I have forgotten to mention the single most vivid moment before we started looking for a piece of Tuscany, the galvanizing moment when Sally and I knew we wanted some part of it. In fact, it was the spirit of an entire village that drew us in, made us feel part of a small community we were very much stranieri, outsiders to.
Independence Day, July 4th, 2006, Sally and I joined the 200 or so villagers of Montisi to munch pizza and watch a soccer game in the alpenglow of a warm Tuscan evening. The ancient Etruscan road into and out of town had been barricaded , an old white bed sheet had been hung across the road between the old stone walls and chairs were set up many rows deep.
Italy had not won a World Cup in 24 years. For the match deciding who would meet France in the final game, Germany had the home field advantage.
There is simply nothing like sitting-standing-sitting-standing among an entire village of passionate Italians of all ages, genders and castes, cheering, jeering, laughing, spilling wine and occasionally, during bad calls, leaping up to punch the referee projected on the bed sheet screen with their fists.
That night, underdog Italy took a chance and won. A few evenings later, on July 9, Italy took the title in overtime. I am not too embarrassed to say that Sally and I danced in sprays of uncorked spumante like everyone else. Sleep came late that night.
The next day, we started looking in earnest.