Photo by Giuseppe Mondi on Unsplash

By Marilyn Pellini

“Sure enough, there it is!” She shouted, so proud of their find. The four weary travelers tumbled out of their rental car and exuberantly began snapping pictures of their discovery. 

My cousin Barbara was always an avid traveler. She would drag her husband to far-off places, or go with her friends on river cruises to Red Hat Society conventions, and she adored sailing the Caribbean. Here is a story she related about following a travel dream.

A year earlier, Barbara and a friend found that they were enthralled with visiting Tuscany after reading the book Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. They enticed their husbands to go along with the promise of extensively touring the Tuscan countryside. They booked a villa in the town of Camucia, at the foot of the mountain town of Cortona, and this only upped the anticipation of accomplishing the task of locating “Bramasole.” Chapter by chapter, they had learned of the author’s trials to restore this old villa to a functioning home in a manner befitting its antiquity.

In mid-May, the small entourage left the USA for Italy and their rental villa. Upon arriving, they settled their luggage into its proper place and immediately set off in search of Bramasole with information obtained from the Internet. The directions turned out to be rather confusing, and they were not experiencing the slightest bit of progress when they spotted an Italian police car manned with working members of the Carbonieri. 

The two women tried explaining their quest to the policemen, but with great difficulty due to the language barrier. The officers seemed to barely comprehend their intent, but they did radio their headquarters and indicated that they would help them locate Bramasole. All the couple had to do was follow the patrol car. The little caravan set off excitedly at breakneck speed, and were excited to reach their goal in short order. The Carbonieri, however, did not seem to really know where it was themselves from the directions that had been given by headquarters, and soon tooled off in an entirely different direction — losing them purposely, my cousin concluded. In their defense, though, the police might have had an emergency to tend to.

Both couples finally decided to go with their gut feeling, as they sensed they were on the right road and were determined to follow it to the very end. If this method of discovery was not successful, they would turn around and approach it from the opposite direction, which often makes things look entirely different. According to the description in the book, they knew that if they could find “the little shrine in the wall” — where neighbors paused to pray and adorn the statue of Mary with wildflowers — they would have no trouble identifying the nearby villa of Bramasole. 

Their hunch proved to be right, and it was now easy to spot the house perched on the crest of a sunny hilltop. After their squeals of delight and picture-taking subsided, they wanted to do more without purposely being intrusive. As there was a little mailbox next to the shrine, they composed a short note telling Ms. Mayes of their delight at finding her beautiful home, and wished her many years of happiness living in the rural Italian countryside. They signed their names, but decided not to give an address or phone number, as that might be rather presumptuous, indicating they expected at least a reply or maybe even an extended correspondence.

Once the trip had ended and Barbara and the other travelers were back in the states, they spoke frequently of their little adventure — a daunting one, as they were already senior citizens at the time of that undertaking. They all agreed, however, that their bags would be packed in but a second if they could feel that moment of euphoria once again. Traveling with a purpose was exhilarating, and then to actually find the object of their quest was a real thrill.

To find Bramasole: 

Take the road on the west side of Cortona to Torreone;

Turn right at Torreone toward the church of S. Margarita, where that road splits into 3 at a small bar;

Take the road to the left downhill;

Bramasole will be on the right.

BIO: 

Marilyn Pellini has recently published a grief book entitled Dear Al, A Widow’s Struggles and Remembrances. It has been selling quite well. Her other credits as a writer include a recent article in Brick Magazine entitled “Memories in My Button Jar,” pieces in Westchester Parent Magazine, Bay State Parent Magazine, On The Water, Balanced Rock, and others which she would be happy to provide copies of upon request. In May of 2018, she took the first place prize in the N.Y. State Federation of Women’s Clubs writing contest.