Archive for October, 2012

Wedding in Orvieto

There are lots of weddings in Orvieto. Most often we see the wedding parties emerging from City Hall or St. Andrea church. Occasionally we see them at the Duomo. We once saw the wedding of a Scotsman and Italian bride. All the bright kilts were such a surprising contrast to what you normally see in Italy!

This year we came across what appeared to be a wedding photo shoot at the Duomo. I decided it was just that, and not actually a wedding. There was a cute little old Fiat that had been rented and lots of posing. Later that evening I saw the wedding party outside at a restaurant. I asked them about the shoot and it turns out it was the real deal! It was fun!

The cute little Fiat 500

Wouldn’t it be fun to rent it?

I’m always amazed at the heals on cobblestones!

Love, sweet love



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Our Sense of Calling

Mark Nepo‘s October 19 entry in his Book of Awakenings struck a cord today. It struck a cord just because I’m human, but also because, for those who travel with us, I believe this reading is true for them. So here it is:

Our Sense of Calling

Every year, around the scalp of the planet, the caribou run the same path of migration along the edge of the Arctic Circle. They are born with some innate sense that calls them to this path. And every year, along the way, packs of coyote wait to feed on the caribou. And every year, despite the danger, the caribou return and make their way.

Often nature makes difficult things very clear. What feels like confusion is frequently our human refusal to see things for what they are. What lesson do the caribou shout to us with the thunder of their hooves as they deepen the crown of the planet? They are evidence, even as we speak, of the fact that in every living thing there is an inner necessity that outweighs all consequence. For the caribou it is clear what it is.

For spirits carried in human form, it is a blessing and a curse that we don’t always know our calling. Part of our migration is the finding out. What is it we are called to, beneath all formal ambition? The caribou tell us that, though there are risks and dangers that wait in the world, we truly have no choice but to live out what we are born with, to find and work our path.

These elegant animals bespeak a force deeper than courage, and, though some would call the caribou stupid, the mystery of their migration reveals to us the quiet, irrepressible emergence of living over hiding, of being over thinking, of participating over observing, of thriving over surviving.

I love that last bit:  living over hiding, of being over thinking, of participating over observing, of thriving over surviving. What a great call to life. He writes to sit quietly and ask what you are called to. Whatever it is, he suggests, you receive as “an energy that lives inside you and not as a goal you have to achieve.” That, I think, is beautiful advice. Don’t make it a goal. I believe our travelers are living, being, participating and thriving. It’s why they choose our trips!

Orvieto Sunset – Afterglow

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It is great to be back in Morganton, but there is much to be remembered fondly of Orvieto. Truly, we have two homes, each very different, each wonderful in its own way, each to be savored and enjoyed. Here are a few of the things I recall fondly from our 5 weeks this fall.

  • I love, love, love the bells chiming at 7:30 in the morning. The sound comes wafting in through the open window providing such a charming start to the day.
  • I love the physical intimacy of the streets. You are embraced by the space. It is cozy, warm, friendly, perfectly scaled for we humans.
  • Streets full of people create a wonderful sense of community. Even though the burble of language is indecipherable, there is a sense of sharing with everyone else on the street.
  • Streets empty of people are compelling as well. The quiet entices you to look at the detail and light and beauty of it all.
  • I love the ability to walk everywhere and get anything I need. I marvel at how much time I spend outside in Orvieto on those streets on my feet. And it is simply wonderful to find everything I need in the stores around town – everything.
  • It is such a joy to experience the multitude of vistas. There are those at the edge, but then there are those from streets that terminate at the edge, framing a view and drawing you forward. There are fields and mountains and sunsets and storm clouds. Marvelous.
  • Once at the edge, I am endlessly entertained by the activity in the fields below. Tractors plow or till, people trim or harvest, sounds of activity drifting up to me. There is something compelling about an agricultural landscape.
  • The food, oh my I love the food. Everything at Cristian’s, a particularly simple yet yummy pasta dish at Hosteria Posterula, the always different food of Angelo at Numero Uno, the simple goodness at La Palomba, the

    Simple food – immense pleasure

    innovative at Zeppelins, the pizza at Antichetta Pizzeria, the gelato, coffee at Scarponi’s.

  • I love all the activity and hubbub of the market: watching it, taking part in it, sitting at Scarponi’s and simply listening to it.
  • I love the views at Palazzone, its fabulous wine, and enjoying a relaxed few hours tasting the wine and Orvieto's cathedraltalking with Giovanni and Isabella.
  • I so enjoy walking down back streets and smelling the food being cooked in homes and the sounds of the cooking drifting out open windows.
  • I never tire of looking at the Duomo, the incredible piece of architecture and inspiration that it is.

What do those of you who have been remember fondly?

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When I am home I start the day with a little reading and a little writing. The writing is a result of reading The Artist’s Way and the “morning pages” she recommends. I’ve been doing it for 13 years. I don’t follow this routine in Italy, but started again today, my fist day back. This morning I found myself writing about all that makes me grateful for the great privilege we have of leading our trips to Italy. Some of the gratitude I felt this morning:

  • For the way Giovanna at the convent connects on such a personal level with so many of the people who travel with us. For her warm hugs, sweet smiles, welcoming nature to those who travel with us.
  • For our friend Cristian at Trattoria del Moro d’Arrone rousing himself with such willingness from his rest between lunch and dinner to boil eggs for one of our travelers with dietary issues that necessitated an immediate infusion of protein. Enthusiastic, generous, and with a smile, he helped us out – and at no charge.
  • For Graziella who does our wine tastings always surprising us with something new and different and compelling.
  • For invitations to lunch and dinner from people we have come to know over our 10 years.
  • For the passion with which Giovanni makes wine and his ability to share it with our groups in a way that gives them such insights into the Italian love of living a full life. For Isabella, who works with him, conveying the same.
  • For Cristina, who guides us through Etruscan caves, extending discounts to all our travelers who shop in her store by the Duomo.
  • For Stefano and Cristiano making room for our group of 10 at Vin Cafe when they had a full house.
  • For how beautiful it is at Palazzone.
  • For the vistas out over the countryside of Orvieto.
  • For the coffee and welcome at Scarponi’s.
  • That Antoni and Romina at the Blue Bar shared their news of a baby boy – their first child, who will arrive before our return in May.
  • For the open arms all give us and extending that welcome to all who travel with us.
  • For the personal and full attention everyone we interact with gives, without allowing the phone or things to be done interfering – for their absolute focus on you.

It is humbling, their generosity, and such a lesson we bring home with us. That lesson is yet another gift we receive.

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Misty Mawn’s workshop ended two days ago. The class produced some stunning work, which they shared Friday evening at a Show and Share in the courtyard. Following is a sample.

One of Dot’s pieces

Three from Dot

One of Jeanne-Marie’s, who joined us from South Africa!

And another

Sharon recalling her train ride

One in charcoal

Two from Jenny

Jenny’s two plus one

One from John

More from John including a page with prints of a stamp he made from a rubbing on an ancient olive oil container

Lorraine decided to share just one of her pieces


Renee’s collection

Everyone with the art

On the last day as everyone finished up their work Misty did a painting for Suor Giovanna. Here are Misty and Giovanna.

Pensive Mary is what Giovanna named it

So sad it is over! We can’ wait for spring and a new set of workshops. Join us!















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Just yesterday it seems we were landing in Orvieto with 5 weeks stretching out before us. Here we are with just four days left. It has been glorious, but so hard to believe we are nearly done. “Siamo alla frutta” as they say here – We are at the fruit. Fruit comes at the end of the meal. So here are a few more pictures.

Honeys at the market

Pastries at Scarponis

A small vendor at the market with her wares beautifully displayed in baskets

A glimpse of San Brizio Chapel in the Duomo




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Before showing more images from our first few weeks in Italy this fall, I wanted to relay what one of the people from Tracy Huskamp’s group said she learned from Italy and the group:

  • To not sweat the big or small things and let go a little (it will get done and the outcome will be fine!)
  • To enjoy every moment and appreciate the world around you more often
  • To share with others but also know that it’s okay to be a little selfish, buy a gift for yourself!
  • That home is always good to get back to.

I simply love how these trips have a profound impact on nearly everyone.  And now the Pictures.

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Lisa’s classroom was awash with color. Dying, stamping, foiling, rubbing, the class produced beautiful fabrics. Kristi said when we walked in for the final showing that it looked like a quilt store full of fabric.

The initial days gave no clue to the colors to come

The finale full of vibrant, beautiful fabric

Stamps carved by the class and used on fabric


Caitlyn with one of her pieces



Julia with her scarf

Julie’s spread of fabric

A sample of beading they worked on

The week’s group, sadly minus two, who weren’t here for the picture

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