#3 Italy/Croatia, Oct. 3, 2009

Dear Everybody,

All was quiet in the house in Partina after all the guests had gone—a time to kick back and think about how lucky I am. I have three wonderful lives—one at home in Minneapolis with much loved family and friends; one on the road wherever that may be—soon to be Croatia; and one here in Partina, looking out the window at the gorgeous Apennine mountains covered in lush forests that hide porcini mushrooms, wild boar (cinguale) and other good things to eat. Additionally there are local grapes that produce good Tuscan wine which I’ll admit to drinking a half bottle of just now accompanied by bruschetta topped with Gorganzola cheese, tomatoes and basil and leftover pate that I made for my company. I suppose it’s the wine that makes me now write what I often only think—I really am the luckiest person in the world to have all these lives. Yes, it’s true—nobody lives better than I do, and I’m grateful for that.

This place is magical and is so much fun to introduce to my friends—they always love it as I do. I play my Luciano Pavarotti CDs, along with a Willie Nelson—my grandson, Marco used to sit for hours and play “On the Road Again” and “You Are My Sunshine” over and over again until his dad would shout “Basta, Marco!” (Enough!) My friend, Gayle, who has visited Partina with me, gives me several books a year about Italy, which I bring here to read.

Roberta (Roberto’s sister—yes, the same name!) gave me full permission to use her grandmother’s embroidered sheets and pillowcases (90 years old?) but I will admit to taking them to the laundry as they do need ironing! The small olive tree in front is beginning to produce a few olives; the sage and rosemary near the fig and plum trees in the backyard are just the thing for roasting coniglio (rabbit) and now and then I cut a fresh rose to decorate the table.

I visited Vivaldo’s grave—Roberto’s father—who died in October, 2005. Time goes so fast. It seems only a short while ago that we celebrated Italian New Year’s Eve together in 1994 with, what else? a six course dinner followed (from midnight to 6:00 AM) with dancing.

Well, bless her heart! Roberta took me to the train in Arezzo at 6:30 AM on Friday so I could catch the 7:35 train to Venice; from there I got a bus to Rovinj in Croatia, where I am now. The town turns out to be very touristy and hotel prices are a shock to me.

Rooms in private houses with shared baths are 35 euro a night, which is $50. There are no hostels, and there weren’t any private rooms that I could get when I got in just at dusk. So I wound up in a modern upscale hotel, which isn’t my style, but ok for now.

Rovinj is a gorgeous medieval town; mostly situated on a small island/peninsula, reaching into the clear, blue Adriatic Sea. I’m quite conflicted about this town; on the one hand it is beautiful and easily walkable; on the other hand it is full of tourists with food (ugh) and prices to match. Last night for dinner I had the worst spaghetti, bad wine (yes, Roberto, it made me shut my eyes as I swallowed—Roberto’s test for bad wine), olive oil that was vegetable oil, mediocre bread and good Parmesan cheese. Oh for Tuscan food!

I visited St. Euphemia’s Cathedral, the dominant huge church with high bell tower that sits atop the town,

with St. Euphemia’s tomb (she was martyred in 304 AD) behind the altar. Her remains were brought here from Constantinople (Istanbul) in 800 AD although the church is from the 1700’s when Rovinj was an important fishing center and the center of the Venetian fleet.

This area is Istria and has been conquered so many times that the history is boring to read. The Austro-Hungarians, the Tartars, the Turks, the Venetians, Napoleon, the Serbs, the Italians, the Germans and finally Marshall Tito all took their turn here. Today, although it’s part of Croatia, Italian is spoken (and on signs) as much as Croat.

I walked all over this town and surrounds today, which was so pleasant.












Tomorrow I’m going back to Porec, where the bus from Venice didn’t stop. I can take a day trip there to see some Roman ruins and other things.

As ever,


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