One of the greatest sources of happiness for me is travel to many different countries where I can experience different cultures, meet interesting people, and see the natural beauty of many countries. Most especially, I love the challenge of traveling solo and it certainly makes me happy to be able to navigate a strange airport or find my way around a new city.
I got my first passport in the early 1970s, just two years out of college, so that I could live and teach in the West Indies for three years. This was my first taste of travel outside the United States and from that time forward I have been hooked, always plotting my next trip, next country. I'm on my third passport as you can see and have visited about 20 countries, mostly in the Caribbean, Great Britain, continental Europe, and New Zealand. New places I hope to get to while my health and mind (!) is still good, include eastern European countries. So far I've only been to Ukraine and am signed up for a river cruise in Russia, St. Petersburg to Moscow, this September. So many places to see, so little time--and money!
Today's "vast porticoes" quote by Baudelaire was on a stuccoed wall at a farmhouse just outside Sienna, Italy: Villa L'Apparita is situated in the rolling hills overlooking Sienna in the Tuscany region of Italy. According to it's owner, the writer Giovanni Guiso, it is the most beautiful farmhouse in Tuscany. Dott. Guiso made this grand pronouncement when he entertained the group of gardeners that I was traveling with on a horticultural tour of Florence and Tuscany in 2000. The farmhouse was built in the late 1400s and was indeed beautiful, especially the rosy brick facade, the arched doorways covered with clipped greenery that could accommodate horses and mounting posts in the lower level, and these lovely red roses--the flowers of love--growing up the walls.
Visiting this garden was different from other Tuscan gardens. While the surrounding landscape was beautiful, our host had more theatrical interests that he wanted to share. For he was involved with Sienna's theatrical society, writing and designing costumes. He also used Villa L'Apparita as a stage for some of his productions. Before lunch we gathered in a small drawing room for a miniature opera in his puppet theater. Everywhere there were reminders that this place existed to celebrate the beauty of love, landscape, and words.
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