We have had the incredible good fortune of being able to spend the past month in one place. As I mentioned earlier, we have been staying with Stephanie, the friend of a friend of a friend. She let us live in the downstairs area of her tri-level home in Tremoleto. You say you haven’t ever heard of Tremoleto? That’s because it’s quiet.
Tremoleto is about 30 minutes southeast of Pisa and about an hour and a half west of Florence. It is in a rural area surrounded by mixed forests of elms and Italian Stone Pines. There are numerous farms with everything from beans to vineyards to olives to pulp trees. The town of about 200+/- residents rests on top of a small knoll and is centered around an old church. There is one trattoria (Italian for a quick sit-down restaurant, not that any eating experience is actually quick), a couple of groupings of homes, and a cemetery. That’s pretty much it. And for us, after a couple of months tramping around in large cities, it was like heaven. We took long walks on the tiny roads from there, planted a garden for Stephanie, did household chores, fixed meals, and let the kids just hang out and play. I even swapped soccer jerseys with Maxmiliano the neighbor who just couldn’t figure us out. It was just what we needed.
One day I rode a bike to a town called Lorenzana located just across the valley on a neighboring hilltop. It is about three times as large as Tremoleto and even has a stoplight to help regulate the traffic down its single lane main street. Since this is the only street through town and only wide enough to handle one tiny car at a time, there is a stop light at either end of the town to regulate traffic. On the top of the hill there is a church from which we could hear the beautiful chiming of bells throughout the day, even across the way in Tremoleto. Steph watched the kids one Sunday afternoon, which afforded Meg and I the rare opportunity for a “date.” We had a typical Tuscan meal at Lorenzana’s main restaurant called La Fraschetta. I am really learning to like good food: zuppa Toscana and zuppa de farro, panne Toscana, formagio Italiano with miel, cingale sausage, and a bottle of local Chianti. All served on the patio overlooking farm valleys and forested hills as far as the eye could see. Yeah, it was romantic.
One day we decided to explore a dirt road across the highway from the entrance to our village of Tremoleto. We wandered for about an hour along farms, vineyards, and forested lanes. We found porcupine quills and wild boar burrows along the embankments. The wind was really blowing and made great sculptures in the clouds as well as ocean waves in the tall grasses on hillsides. It was really beautiful. Eventually we popped out into the tiny town of Fauglia. It too has a streetlight just like the one in Lorenzana. And just like Tremoleto and Lorenzana, and for that matter pretty much every other small Tuscan town we visited, it sat on top of a hill with and old church at its center. We were hoping for a gelateria but had to settle for a coffee bar where Sarah Jane discovered panne ciocolato. She’s been hooked ever since.
We’ve all been hooked by the beauty and pace of life here. On our last day here, Emma woke up and immediately said, “I don’t want to go. It’s so beautiful here.” That sums it up.