Gioia (Joy) in a Tuscan Garden

We have been in Italy a mere three weeks and already my “life’s suitcase” is filled to the brim with lessons from Tuscany and the Tuscan people.

That is the power of this country; it expertly weaves you magico (magical) memories, which can be worn like fabric for a lifetime.

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”-Pericles

Each day in Tuscany, I am transported back to a time when everything felt new again, to a place where childlike entusiasmo (enthusiasm) for life was expected, encouraged and most importantly embraced.

This morning while savouring my cafe Americano con latte cauldo (coffee with hot milk) on the terrace, I was watching the butterflies as they swirled and floated aimlessly above the lavanda (lavender) bushes. The lavanda had just begun to bloom, perhaps a celebratory dance of new life in the cucina giardino (kitchen garden)?

Orange, white, yellow, black and purple butterflies all joined in on the ritual, but it was the contrast of the brilliant white butterfly wings against the deep purple lavanda flowers which I found most striking.

This past weekend I was honoured to be invited to a book release held in Lorenzo and Daniela Vanni’s giardino. The giardino is located just outside the medieval walls of San Gusme, a beautiful hilltop village whose population is a mere 100 residents, and whose lands touch the Arceno Estate. This is one of my favourite places.

In the giardino there sits an old wooden window frame salvaged by Lorenzo from a prior restoration of his ancient apartments,  a wooden frame, I call “Lorenzo’s Window on the World” (“La finest di Lorenzo sul mondo.”).


Lorenzo’s Window on the World”.   Photo Credit 2018-Lorenzo Vanni

The window frame sits in the giardino, ensuring that anyone who stands there will be drawn to the natural beauty of the Tuscan landscape in the distance. The magnificent vineyards and olive groves of the Villa Di Arceno Estate which the garden overlooks, can make you feel transported to another place, another time.

The event was a celebration of the novel Love in a Tuscan Kitchen written by Sheryl Ness WWW.LOVEINATUSCANKITCHEN.COM


Sheryl “The Author”.  Photo Credit 2018-Lorenzo Vanni

Sheryl, is an American who comes from Minnesota and she just ‘sparkled’ on her special  day. Her dream of living and working in Tuscany brought her to San Gusme, but it was her leap of faith, determination and good fortune, that resulted in her finding amore (love) in the kitchen (ristorante) run by Vincenzo “the Chef”.


Vincenzo and Sheryl.  Photo Credit 2018-Lorenzo Vanni

Sheryl’s story is one of following your dreams, set in the magical village of San Gusme, which was, and continues to be, preserved by the special people of the village.

These people have been woven into Sheryl and Vincenzo life story.


The people who have been woven into a love story. Photo Credit 2018-Lorenzo Vanni

So in this enchanting giardino, a crowd gathered while Lorenzo and Daniela poured Prossecco and their homemade sangria. Laughter seemed to float through the air like notes, as though a flute was playing music in the background.

The plates were filled with pizza, salads, cheese and meats as more residents of San Gusme descended the stone steps into the giardino. All residents of San Gusme had been invited to attend the celebrazione (celebration), with some closing their shops to attend.


The beautiful ladies of San Gusme. Photo Credit 2018-Lorenzo Vanni


The beautiful ladies of San Gusme. Photo Credit 2018-Lorenzo Vanni

Others choose to stand or mingle their way through the crowd with glasses in hand, greeting old friends and meeting new ones, with the same joy.


Two Masterpieces in the Garden.  Photo Credit 2018-Lorenzo Vanni


David, Karen (the fabulous Conti’s) & I. Sonni is to the right. Photo Credit 2018- Lorenzo Vanni

And as if on cue, the church bells rang out and the sparrows twirled around the bell tower as the festivities started.

With this human blanket of happiness wrapped around them, Sheryl and Vincenzo stood proudly under the pergola, with their voices at times cracking with emotion. They spoke about the novel, while lovingly acknowledging the individual residents of San Gusme who were central to their amore (love) story.

As the moments passed, the smiles broadened, the laughter continued and Lorenzo finally blew his brass horn, there was a tangible pride in the couple’s accomplishment.

And in that moment I wondered what the people of San Gusme had taught me? What magic had they woven today?

“In caring about the happiness of others, we find our own.” – Plato












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