As we bid au revoir, I look back on how it all started.
It all began here:
A cascade of water into a plunge pool: not a bad analogy for this experience, although when I mulled it over as my nerves fluttered pre-departure, I concluded that coming to a European country with Tom, albeit with a clutch of bambini, had to be easier than going to a war zone solo when in my twenties.
So it began here two years ago, when Tom, H., P. and I found this spot of tranquility, away from the rat race which seems now to be eating up even Primary Education in the UK. A chance conversation with a Brit living locally enlightened us as to the school movement in the locality – a Montessori system which places children truly at the heart of their learning and actively avoids testing – one of the vices of UK education which I found mildly frustrating as a teacher and positively distressing as a mother of children caught up in a flawed system.
That chance encounter led to the seed of our plan to upsticks and re-root ourselves, temporarily, in Italy.
And that would surely have been the end of it, had we not been put in contact with a family who had done precisely that with three young children. Deciding to spend a year living in the ‘casa’ they had restored over the years they ended up staying for three and were leaving just as we climbed down the rope and found the cold plunge pools. We made contact and the smoke of the pipe dream began to take shape.
There was a mild hiatus – something to do with the distraction of having la Principessa which almost re-routed us into the domesticity of life in the UK, so last autumn was crunch point: start plans now or abandon them, to be brought out and dusted off in years to come as one of those ‘might haves’ and ‘could haves’ with which our lives are filled.
We started plans, on the basis of the old adage of ‘regretting those things you haven’t done, not those you have’. The conversations which had led us to the owners of ‘la casa dei sogni’ (the house of dreams) seemed serendipitous: how could we do otherwise than push on this open door?
In February we made a recce visit to see the house, the school and remind ourselves why we thought this was a good idea.
Thereafter, there was no turning back. The house in the UK went on the rental market, we sold the car and bought the 4X4 we would need to access casa dei sogni in the winter and began the laborious process of packing the house into the loft. Well, not only the loft, we managed to persuade our wonderfully supportive families to house for us various bits and pieces, of varying sizes and no doubt to varying degrees of annoyance.
So, it is a crazy plan: life cannot literally be put on hold and Tom will continue to work in London as well as time at home in Italy. It remains to be seen how he will cope with the commute, how I will cope with the working week without him looking after three children, particularly as they adjust to life in a country in which none of us speaks the language. It is an adventure which we have all embraced with open arms and, like any commitment and most things in life which are worth experiencing, it will take effort and care to make it work. For now, we have brought the seed to fruition. We are here, living the reality of our Tuscan dream.