I am enjoying my Italian classes so much. I don’t really care about conjugating all the verbs in the conditional tense. My favorite part is the light bulb that goes off in my head when I understand what we’re talking about in class, all in Italian, of course. I like to ask questions about the unemployment rate and what my teacher thinks of the Euro, etc. It’s so fun being able to converse and understand in Italian. Of course, I choke often, but the teachers are so encouraging and patient. They gently lead you to what you wanted to say. Still, it’s fun having English speaking breaks with Dixie. We were talking about how important it is in middle life to do new things, to take on new challenges. It slows down time, sharpens your mind, but most importantly, it’s just fun. I love being able to understand Italian. Now my homework is to write a letter in Italian to advise a fictional Massimo whether he should take the new job or not.
La Foce: Here’s the abbreviated story: Iris Origo nee Cutting grew up as a rich socialite in Florence. Her father was Irish and her mother was a rich American. Iris married Antonio Origo, an Italian, and they moved to La Foce, a neglected home on the old Via Francigena pilgrimage trail that had fallen into hard times. The whole Val d’Orcia was poor, the farms were no longer producing, and the region was in decline. Antonio and Iris worked hard to bring agriculture back to the region. Iris loved gardens and hired Cecil Pinsent, an English architect, to design her gardens. At first their well ran dry, but her rich American mother paid for a spring to divert water from miles away to the property. That’s when the gardens were designed. Pisent did not like flowers, but Iris added them in the upper garden. He looked at plants as crystalized forms and not organic beings. I’ve read Iris Origo’s wonderful War in Val D’Orcia. During the war, they housed many orphans from the cities, but the war came to the Val D’Orcia, and they eventually had to flee to Montepulciano, which was protected from the German destruction. Tours are given on Wednesday afternoons only, so we lucked out getting there before the storms. The active clouds enhanced our photos: landscapes in the sky. Dixie and her daughter, Hannalor, rode with us along a white gravel road to La Foce. Enjoy the photos: