The Ride of a Lifetime! After sixteen years of trying to live in Italy as "true Italians," we set out to write a book about our experiences. As it turns out, we ended up doing a lot more than just writing a book because we decided that to capture the essence, we really needed music, poetry, drawings, videos and more. So, that's exactly what we did. You can find our complete body of work at www.uncommonpromise.wordpress.com. We hope you can visit us from time to time—let us know what your personal adventure looks like. Perhaps we can all glean some inspiration to go out and write a new chapter in our own stories! Wishing you the best, Cheryl and Emerson

Gatta the cat runs this place.

Fabrizio, one of our neighbors, brought her to Pretena about 10 years ago. She has been the sole proprietor of this country plot, managing the comings and goings of every little critter within 100 meters around the house. Cats are really good to have around. They seem to get a kick out of their own little hunting games and we are all better off as a result. (more…)

“I didn’t know you were such a ham.”

Cheryl shared that brief comment with me on the phone, just after watching the video I had made called “Wood Worms.” Since we were working remotely during the month of June, there was a bit more independent action on my part, so I admit that both the topic chosen and the implementation might very well have been just a bit different. However, I have to say that the word ham didn’t settle quite right when I first heard it. What does it mean anyway? It certainly didn’t feel like the compliment I was hoping for, so I left the conversation feeling a bit puzzled. (more…)

Wherever I go, there life is. Whatever I’m doing, there I am.

Sometimes it feels like I’m being followed. No matter how far away I go, no matter how sneaky I think I am by stealing off to Italy, despite my best efforts to change my name and identity—when I wake up the next morning, there I am . . . again!

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Cerilla, Cheryl and I will meet for the first time tonight!

Yes, I know it’s hard to believe after so many years, but it’s true—tonight is the night of our first date. You might even call it a blind date, and I’m actually getting a bit nervous about it. All I really know is the time of her arrival. I might even hold up a sign with her name on it like everyone else does—glancing expectantly at each fresh face that comes through the door as if asking, “Are you the one I’m looking for?”

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The ciliegio, cherry tree, in the corner of the garden was full of bright red cherries with that deep irresistable glow. We plucked a couple and popped them into our mouths as we walked by. They were wonderful—as sweet as they could be and just about ready for pickin’. (more…)

C’è una problemma, there is a problem!

Math is actually the issue here. Take any regular problem and multiply it by the following factors: I am temporarily alone and must resolve any computer/technology issue in Italian tech-talk, the people who can help aren’t anywhere close by, telephone conversations are not easy—which means that instead of having a problem, suddenly I have a convoluted, compounded major problem of huge Italian proportions!

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There was a strange high-pitched noise in the engine. Proactive is always better, so we drove down to Sieci where the local autofficina, mechanics shop, is located—tucked in just beneath the residences above. We asked Moreno what he thought about the noise. Moreno knows everything about cars. We trust Moreno. (more…)

Admiration.

That’s what comes to mind when I think of someone living alone. I’m in awe of the courage it must take to say “I’m going to do this on my own, no matter what.” The underlying self-confidence is inspiring. My brief experiences are nothing in comparison, but they at least give me glimpses and insights into what it must take to be solo, as we say in Italy. (more…)

Our friends down the hill Sabrina and Roberto, hired Alessio Merciai, a local historian, to research and write the story of their beloved villa, Il Trebbiolo. They have been working non-stop for 10 years to restore it to the grandeur of its finest hour in the 16th century, and they’ve done a fantastic job. The book is now finished, so we picked up a copy the other day to check it out. It reads like a reverse murder mystery—instead of trying to find out who done it, as in something really bad, they are trying to solve the riddle of who done it so good, because it is such a beautiful place today. That alone makes this story very different from any other. (more…)