Today is the day I head to Tuscany! I check out of my Rome hotel and head for the train station, arriving in plenty of time to people watch and pay 1Euro to use the public restroom (Yay- it was clean). I boarded my train car and stretched out in the nearly empty coach. Lush, green countryside whizzed by as I headed to Chiusi, the closest train station to the village of Montefollonico, where I’ll be staying for a week. I am filled with excited anticipation, anxious to meet the other brave culinary travelers who have also left their jobs, their daily routines and their loved ones for this grand adventure.
International travel is the greatest way to deepen one’s self-awareness. Meeting other travelers gives me a sense of community like no other. We are strangers and yet we share wanderlust. We are willing to eschew the comforts of home and embrace the unknown, the uncharted and sometimes, the uncomfortable. As a solo traveller, I feel invisible in the midst of crowds, but this feels incredibly liberating. I could be anyone, adopt any accent and claim any nationality or, I can just be me. Me, wearing clothes that are scented with the mysterious, unidentifiable smell of my suitcase. Me, with the messy ponytail and the perpetual goofy grin. Me, the luckiest girl on this train, on my way to a delicious, grand adventure.
I meet Debi, another solo Tuscan Woman Cook guest at the Chiusi train station and we share a scenic 40 minute cab ride up to Montefollinco, a tiny Tuscan village located high atop a Tuscan mountain, overlooking spectacular vineyards, farms and olive groves. Both Debi and I feel like pinching ourselves. Debi tell me this is her first time traveling out of the U.S. And I, a perfect stranger am the first to bear witness of her incredibly courageous step into a whole new chapter of her life. At fifty-something she is now officially an International Traveller. I welcome her to the club and warn her that one trip abroad leads to another; And another one right after that. Life is about to change with mind-expanding sites, sounds and adventures.
Are we really here? I can feel the driver smile and hear him chuckle softly as Debi and I take turns swooning and saying “Look at this” beckoning each other’s attention towards our respective sides of the car.
It’s beyond beautiful.