…no, not yet. And certainly not all the work that went into making it look just right – chlorine so low I could swim laps daily, chemicals in balance, almost perfect – no, not yet.
Perhaps I haven’t had the time to miss Piemonte. Certainly not all that time it took to create such a paradise. Maybe the lessons learned will last a lifetime; yes, let’s go with that.
Initially, at 50, it was fun. Then at 58, carting the wood from the shed in two feet of snow several times a day, not so much. Aging is a strange thing. Most years flow into one another, some hit hard with their jarring reality.
I moved to Piemonte because I had aspirations and I wanted to experience all the seasons; yet there were so many of them. A season to stack the wood, to plant the cherry trees, to turn off the massive irrigation system, to turn it back on – such were the cycles of life.
As Oscar Wilde said, “there are two tragedies in life, one is not getting what you want, the other is getting it”.
I thought Piemonte would be our final destination. Then I realized 7 yrs in Loazzolo was really quite like a pilgrimage. Not in search of a blessing or penance, but in search of lessons I needed to learn. One of the most important was my daily health and I did learn the value of a daily tisana.
Each month I would visit Dr. Enrica Maria Marchioni at her shop in Cesole. It was called Erboristeria Negro, a shop witha grand history founded in 1940 by her uncle Teodoro Negro. People came from far away to have him lay his hands on them, to find what ailed them and then provide a potion of herbs to sooth their ills. They would wait for hours in his courtyard; I’ve seen the pictures. I hope to use one for the book, we’ll see.
That’s why I’m writing about Enrica and her uncle, they are but one of 12 interviews, 12 stories, 12 personal legends. This galaxy of talent I found along my pilgrimage in Piemonte.
Enrica’s herbal shop reminded me of living in Rome, visiting the oldest herbal shop in Trastevere, the neighborhood the Romans called the cuore di Roma where I lived once upon a time for 3 luxurious years. Dozens and dozens of drawers full of herbs and magic.
In Cesole, in the Bormida Valley, not so far from my home on top of a hill in Loazzolo, Enrica Maria now runs the place. I loved our visits. I would talk and she would listen. So often we simply need someone to listen. And she did, and then she would provide me with an elixir. She would fill my bag, write the ingredients carefully on the bag and then secure it with a wooden clip. She was lovely and the bag was full of magic.
Here on Lake Garda I have my herbal shop, and the woman provides me with my ‘dopo pasta, my potion to keep away stomach aches or aches of any kind, really. It’s that important to me and my daily diet. The store works, I like the women and their dopo pasta. But they don’t have aqua eyes like Enrica and dozens and dozens of drawers…but it’s just fine.
Oh, the lessons I learned in Piemonte. No, the pool was so pretty but it isn’t missed because the lessons learned will last a lifetime.