It’s a hot July day – the kind of day that makes you slow down, sit down – yes, even lay down. Days like this are ideal for taking it easy, so that’s what I’ve been doing today. And my mind has been drifting back to tours and workshops we’ve hosted over the last few months.
Individual moments stand out after busy trips, don’t you think? It’s impossible to remember all the details, of course – so many experiences, so much excitement – but those certain moments that stand out can become cherished memories. So many moments …
In May, during Jeanne Salucci’s watercolor workshop, the group painted in a vineyard and our dear friend, Paola, set up a impromptu wine tasting so they could paint and sip. What fun! On another day, the painters set up on the sweeping terrace of the villa to paint landscapes – what a gorgeous day it was.
Later in May, my husband and I hosted our annual Italy for Couples Tour … the couples’ arrival in Venice was so special – with one couple arriving by water taxi, then climbing over another boat with their baggage! The group’s first aperitivo hour in the gardens at Il Colombaio (where we stayed for several nights) was lovely too. Then there was the evening that the men helped the owners put together new outdoor furniture (lots of handy men were along!), and of course our fabulous afternoon in Castiglione del Lago … such a special group of couples!
In June, Elizabeth St. Hilaire arrived to teach her annual Paper Paintings Retreat. We love it when Elizabeth comes to Italy, but this time we temporarily misplaced two of her students upon their arrival in Rome. Little did know they’d taken a taxi instead of our private van service. Needless to say, we were relieved when they arrived (as evidenced in the selfie below!). So many memorable moments … like how charming 87 year-young Marie was during her paper lesson with Lamberto, and how much fun we had at our lunch together at Daniela’s, and what a beautiful last evening it was – while Elizabeth and Lou chatted on the lawn at Il Colombaio.
In between tours Alice came to visit – she’s assisting Lauren McClerkin with her Pilates Retreat next year, so I gave her a tour of Il Colombaio and we discussed details about the retreat (which is going to be soooo fabulous!). I remember us sitting outside, watching the sun lower over the distant Tuscan hills. Memorable moments.
In June we said arrivederci – at least for now – to our beloved, Ermanno, who has been driving our groups for several years. At Off the Beaten Strada we’re really all like family, so when one of our family members goes away – even if the reason is a good one (a good job that will keep him closer to his wife and daughter), it still stings. We’ve shared countless special moments together, Ermanno and me, and loads of laughs – like him expertly fitting an impossible number of bags into the back of his van! We’ll deeply miss our wonderful Ermanno.
Most recently, artist John Sterner and his wife, Tracy, came to visit – and to plan John’s upcoming Painting Italy Workshop in June 2017. Our mornings became planning sessions (usually with a round of cappuccini at a local bar), and when John and my husband, Lou, painted in Bagno Vignoni we knew we had struck gold on a painting location! One day, while the guys painted, Tracy and I happened upon purses that had our names on them – well, what could we do? But one of the most memorable evenings was an outdoor dinner at Il Colombaio. Enjoying good food with good friends … and making cherished moments.
As we enjoy our way through July and August – and the beauty of summertime – I’ll look forward to our upcoming end-of-summer and falls tours, and to so many special moments to come. Che bello.