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Our house in Tuscany, the place we call home

posto che chiamiamo casa

The place we call home is in Tuscany, one of the most wonderful regions in the world.

I tell you the story of how we found our house in Tuscany, and of the wonderful human beings we met through her.

I practice Linguistic Empathy and I expect you to do the same. Please bear with me if my English is not perfect.

When summer begins and we feel holidays approaching, in our family we start exchanging messages about our house in Tuscany, the place we call home. Short, simple messages that express the accumulated longing for what is about to come: the moment when we not only shall be together for a long time, but together in our house in Tuscany, the one we love more than any other house in the world.

This year it will be different because since the last time I wrote about her, after our international party, all of the brothers who made our dream possible have left us.

We obviously knew the moment would come, but this does not change the fact that there will forever be a sense of emptiness in the fields that surround our house in Tuscany, now that they are no longer there.

With this post I want to remember and honour them. If today we have a place we love so deeply and that we and our sons call home in the warmest sense of the work, it is exclusively thanks to them. I will go through this beautiful story by sharing some old pictures.
This is the first one and the most important:

our house in tuscany

We were young (veeeeeery young) and our dream was to find a place to renovate in Tuscany. We had searched for long, on all possible dirty roads, asking every living soul we met whether they knew of a ruin to buy.

We did it during our holidays – Christmas, Easter, summer – and between missions in Africa.

We had almost given up: Germans and British with their strong currencies had bought almost everything in the area.

But we kept on going because during our search we had desperately fallen in love of the area around Volterra.

The picture above was taken during an Easter holiday, when we took some friends and my brother to see the region. The man on the tractor is the second of the three brothers that sold us the house. He is the one who said the historical sentence: “…actually, I have a little house…“.¬† The picture was taken precisely at that moment, when my husband (in red) was explaining that we were a young Milanese couple in search of a ruin to renovate.

The man on the tractor took us to his farm, where his eldest brother was, and to a point where we were able to see “our” ruin. I will never forget my husband watching through the telescope and whispering: “Claudia, maybe we have found it“.

This picture was taken shortly after watching the house with the telescope:

casa

The one leaning on the FIAT 500 is the eldest brother. We were all (friends included) debating. If we were excited, but tried to keep our expectations under control, after all the disappointments, the two brothers were also slightly under shock: they had never really considered to sell the “casina” (little house, as they called her), which was on the fields they had been working for years, and that they always used as refuge from the rain after it had been abandoned by the last farmers who lived there in the ’50s.

They worried about the fact that selling it would deprive them of the right to work on the fields that surround her. Before continuing the discussion, we decided to go and have a look at her, in order to understand how much work it implied to renovate her. With the little Citroen of my mother, we launched ourselves on a wooden track, crossed a little river, and arrived to what today is the place we most love in the world:

casa

This was the house on one side:

our house in tuscany

And on the other:

our house in tuscany

We instantly fell in love. It was the ideal size for us, beautiful, in a wonderfully isolated place, which is what we were looking for.

I don’t remember whether we started to seriously discuss the price at that moment or in another occasion. Maybe we gave them time to think and discuss among themselves before taking a decision, and went back later on. What I know is that at a certain point something magical happened. Not only did they decide to sell us the house (and I know which brother insisted for it, because not the whole family was comfortable with the idea of selling the casina), but they asked exactly the amount we could afford.

The rest is history: we signed the deed when our first son was one year old, and we could not start renovating the house for many years, because we did not have the money. When we did, we went there every summer trying to push the works forward and hoping to finish as soon as possible because we were dying to use it. This happened in 2007, and since then our house in Tuscany has become a steady point in our nomadic life. It has hosted a lot of love, life, laughter, friendship and beauty.

The magic of going back every summer was also in seeing the beloved brothers and their families. Never, not even for a second have we forgotten that it’s been thanks to them if our dream has come true. Going back every year and finding them was as special as approaching the scenario that surrounds the house, and feel our hearts opening up.

The youngest brother, an amazing person, died shortly after we started using the house. A devastating news, but the beginning of a profound friendship with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, whom we are always so happy to see when we arrive in our beloved Tuscany.

The middle brother was very sick in the end, but he always welcomed us with joy and love. One day, when he had already been suffering for long, he insisted to have us for “merenda“. His wife was worried because he wanted to cut the ham with trembling hands, but he was very proud of having us with him, and share his food. That afternoon, which I remember as one of the sweetest I have ever spent with him, he told us a lot about his past, how how he had put his baby brother on his shoulder, during the war, and had fled in the woods to seek refuge under the repeated attacks on the area. He told us more about the casina, of how fertile and rich the earth around her was, and how the brothers’ wives always went to pick peaches, apricots and myrtle. That day I went back to the casina with my heart full of love and gratitude.

We managed to take some more pictures together the summer before he and his sister-in-law died:

our house in tuscany

Last year the eldest brother died, too. We maintain our friendships with their children, who are also special people, but nothing will ever fill the void in our hearts when we pass by their farm, now, and don’t see one of the wives that comes towards us happily screaming: “Madonnina!!! How they have grown!!! (our children)”, or one of the brothers on the tractor, caressing the beloved fields.

Claudia Landini
June 2016
Photos ©ClaudiaLandini

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