Not all those who wander are lost.

Off to Tuscany!

Castelvecchio di Compito

I boarded the Lucca-bound train at Roma Trastevere station, unsure of what to expect upon my arrival in Tuscany. The 4-hour train ride was unreal, worth every euro cent in and of itself. I marveled at Michelangelo’s dome topping St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, and I saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa somehow still managing to defy gravity. I passed countless lavender and sunflower fields, streams of purple and yellow for miles on end. The Mediterranean Sea, just as brilliant as I had left it in Turkey, though now more blue rather than Turquoise in color. The Italian sun, even this early in summer, so strong and so so hot. “Do not open windows…air conditioned cabin,” the sign read. False. The stuffiness was suffocating and the only way to combat it was to close my eyes and dream of gelato.

I was on my way to Tuscany to meet the family I will be living with for the next 2 months. A family of six, all four children under the age of 10, and a mother who wants them to learn English. Am I insane? Probably.

Tonja (host mom) and I had been corresponding via email since mid-March. She contacted me after reading my profile on Work Away. The website puts people in contact for volunteer work-exchange opportunities around the world. The expectation is 20-25 hours of work per week in exchange for full room and board.

While Tonja didn’t present any set schedule or hours for working, she seemed completely reasonable in her expectations. For me, it was too good to pass up. The town is Castelvecchio di Compito, and it sits on top of a hill 20 minutes outside Lucca. Shockingly gorgeous, incredibly small, and very off-the-beaten-path for tourists.Over the next 2 months, I will eat, sleep and breathe Italy. I will learn Italian recipes inside an Italian kitchen. I will partake in headed debates in Italian over simple topics such as what constitutes a “typical” Tuscan work week. I will sing Italian lullabies. This is exactly the type of immersion I have dreamed of for so long.

I knew the risks – I could end up working much more than 25 hours/week, or the family could be a disaster, etc. But if La Merda truly hit the fan, I have my life in a backpack – I am extremely mobile & flexible – I could just leave.

But upon my arrival at the Lucca train station, I was greeted by the biggest hugs and warmest smiles of Tonja, her mother-in-law, and the kids. My heart melted instantly, and I knew this was absolutely what I was looking for. Here I am, finally under my Tuscan sun.

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