The job with the boutique hotels website came to a rather abrupt end, leaving me with two day’s notice to decide what to do with the family. I have been commissioned to update 10 Italian city guides while I’m in Italy so I figured the best thing to do would be to carry on to the major cities and focus on getting the guide updates the best they can be.
I needed to buy myself some time to organise my onward travel, contact tourist boards and see if anyone would be interested in hosting us. Luckily I have a friend in Italy and after I explained my situation to her she suggested that we retreat to her boyfriend’s parents’ house in the magical hilltop Umbrian town of Città della Pieve.
And what a salve it proved to be. After a month of living in hotels it was such a joy to go shopping in a supermarket, to cook hot meals for the family that we could eat when we wanted (including, perhaps, at 5.30pm – a time when no respectable Italian restaurant would serve dinner, even to two toddlers). And what a relief to be able to wash our clothes in a washing machine and hang them out to dry! Yes it is great to get some relief from domestic chores, but it is wonderful to be king of a castle again when you have been a guest for so long.
I had also found it very difficult to work while on the road – with much of my time consumed by packing and unpacking, checking in and checking out and travelling from one place to another. In laid-back Città della Pieve I got into a routine, going out to ‘work’ every morning in the friendly Café Degli Artistes, where I could rent a table with excellent wifi for a €1 Americano. I even managed to do a day’s subbing shift for the Guardian in the UK and several hours subbing for the Guardian in the US.
I would get home in time to cook lunch for two excited children who had spent the morning in the garden with daddy, playing games with sweeping views over the Umbrian countryside. Then the children would nap, while i did some more work and then we’d go out together to a playground and back to the Café Degli Artistes for rich, thick hot chocolates. Bliss.
Tomorrow we depart for Rome, but we leave some happy memories in Città della Pieve.