La Dolce Vita Takes Flight

It’s spring in New York. That means it’s time for our annual migration. Along with snow geese, swallows, and Siberian cranes, my husband and I change continents with the warming of the air. It’s a long commute, but twice a year, we leave New York and its 8.3 million inhabitants for the tiny village of Varinella, Claudio’s birthplace in southeastern Piedmont. With a mere 248 residents, Varinella is a so-called frazione, or fraction, of Arquata Scrivia, a larger town (pop. 5,848) across the river Scrivia. It’s a splinter town, really, founded by monks long ago. Their handiwork is still visible in lovely brick arches that frame our petite garage and the neighbors’ hayloft, built some 400 years ago. I would describe our house, inherited from Claudio’s great-grandmother, as a ‘medieval townhouse’, abutted as it is by other skinny houses, all huddled together for protection from marauding Saracens who used to launch raids from the sea near Genoa, just 25 miles to the south. That proximity to Genoa and its cobalt sea is one of the things I love most about my adopted home. Claudio leads the way to feather the nest and catch up with friends, while I stay behind to tie up all the loose ends. Sublet apartment? Check. Send out information booklets to all our clients? Check. Invest in a pricey new Canon 19-200mm zoom lens? (Gulp). Check. Start a blog? Check.*

This blog is for those of you who think running a wine tour company is the cat’s meow. ‘Oh my god, that sounds so great!” is the reaction I usually get when I tell someone what I do. Often it is great. There’s that cobalt Ligurian sea, those peaceful dawns in Montalcino watching the mist rise over the Val d’Orcia, those conversations with the winemakers about their passion. And, of course, there’s the wines themselves, which is no small reward, given the quality of wines we taste. Other times, when I am my own gopher, my own tech support, my own Gal Friday, this job can be a real slog. Stay tuned, and you’ll get a taste of both. But for the next two months, it’s time for the good stuff! Italy, here I come.

* But first, I spend the entire morning of my departure at the Apple Store, troubleshooting the blog template on iWeb. Long story short, they couldn’t solve the problem with my current software/operating system/computer. So until I can replace all that upon my return to New York in July, this blog will run as Notes in Facebook, which also offers an RSS feed. Gotta wing it!