Monday, May 28, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Pepita

Dear Il Chiostro friends, family and staff alumni from Le Lodoline days,

We got the news that our Contessa Pepita passed away 2 weeks ago and we wanted to share some photos and memories of her with you.

Her passing marks the end of an era for sure. It is because of her and her beautiful Lodoline that Il Chiostro ever began.

Maria Giuseppina Radicati Di Brozolo Hamilton yes, Hamilton. She married the love of her life Major Hugh Hamilton just a few years before he passed away.  He was a legend in Chianti for bringing tourism to this beautiful area and even though they had been together for many years, she was still married to her Italian husband and divorce was not legal unless she claimed he beat her. Pepita refused to lie about the relationship so she and Hugh waited until the laws changed to finally tie the knot.

A British Equestrian magazine wrote an article about her describing her as a small, fragile looking woman made of steal.... that was Pepita for sure!

We went up to Lodole a few days ago to say goodbye. There was no one there so we snuck in the way we always did, jumping over the fence from Cipressaia, and paid our respects to her in her chapel.

As Michael and I sat up on that hill overlooking the rich valley of vineyards and olive groves, the golden light causing Siena to sparkle in the distance, we realized that even though we will never have those days again the joy we felt there was what inspired us to shape the experience of Tuscany we want to share. It will always be special place for us. We are filled with gratitude for having known Pepita and Le Lodoline.

Pepita shied away from the camera saying she wasn't the looker she used to be but here are some pix I managed to capture when she wasn't looking.

Thinking of you all,
Baci from Tuscany,
Linda and Michael

Le Lodoline from my kitchen window
Pepita in 2008 with her trusted dog Prince
P.S. Did we mention she was 100 years old in March!?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Arrival in Italy, Spring 2012

In real time we are on week 2 of this years Spring line-up of programs. We are in Genova at our friend Beppe's place which we will discuss in future entries...we have a little catching up to do!
Here was Michael's impression on our arrival:

April 28, 2012 – Arrival in Italy After a smooth 8 hour flight we landed safely in Rome’s Fumicino airport.  A curious thing I want to point out is that when we left New York nearly everyone was speaking English (even an intimidated couple trying to explain to a woman that she was in their seat).  But something happened over the Atlantic because as we came in sight of Rome, all of a sudden the only voices we heard were speaking exuberantly in Italian – even the flight attendants!
Whenever I travel nowadays I’m worried that with the world shrinking the differences between cultures will evaporate so that America and Europe will not be much different than Ohio is from New Jersey.  But the minute we set foot on Italian ceramic tiles in the airport, my concern was put to rest.  There are tenacious aspects of our cultures that, at least for now, are still worlds apart.  Here are 3 that I noticed immediately:
1.     Tailoring – Italians wear clothes that fit their bodies, from the flight attendants on Alitalia to the uniformed guards patrolling customs to the men in suits waving placards for their passengers
2.     Shoulders – in Italy shoulders are a form of speech.  The closer towards the ears they rise the more emphatic their point.  The couple ahead of us at passport control could have been bouncing a volley ball between them their shoulders were so animated
3.     Compliance – as we exited baggage claim all the Americans proceeded in an orderly fashion down the lane that was marked “Exit to Customs”.  The Italians, however, already in their sunglasses and hauling their designer luggage behind them, crowded en masse down the lane that was clearly marked EXIT:  ABSOLUTELY NO ENTRY!  And not one of those customs officials said a word.
Ah, we are in Italy!