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Back Online

(cross-posted from another lucky bastard living in tuscany.)

Many things have happened in the last week. But mostly the last week has been . . . the week without internet.

Cue portentous music.

No internet. For more than a week. No MSNBC. No RealPolitics. No Ambivablog. Ted Kennedy gets a brain tumor and I don’t know about it. My lack of awareness doesn’t have much effect on Teddy one way or the other, but I like knowing these things. I don’t like being cut off. Out of the loop.

We are way rustic here. I am not a rustic by nature. I’m a creature of the much-maligned suburbs where we take so much for granted: phones, for example. Internet connections. 24 hour gas stations with mini-marts. Also, roads.

Here’s how you get to my house. If coming from Florence take the first 192 turns you come to. That’s as specific as I can be because, honestly, I don’t have a clue. I do what the Garmin GPS (which we call “Lady” as in, “Goddammit, Lady, this left or the other left?”) tells me to do. Turn. Veer. Turn. Enter roundabout. Around and around and in and out, and never the same drive twice because you always, always miss a turn and in Florence it’s never as easy as just going around the block to get back where you started from.

So first drive around lost for an hour until, by sheer process of elimination, you end up in Pontassieve. Then look for a crack in a wall and pull in there. Follow a half-lane paved road — no, that’s not a typo, I said half-lane. A full lane would be luxurious by comparison. A full American-sized lane would be what this road aspires to. When this road wins the lottery it will live out its dream to be as wide as the driveway leading to a one-car garage.

On the left, as you climb, a sheer drop of anywhere from dozens to hundreds of feet. No guardrail. A Wile E. Coyote landing on the Marchese di Frescobaldi’s grapes. Multiple blind hairpin turns. When traffic comes toward you, both cars slam on the brakes and one backs down (or up) the hill, depending it seems, on who has the least distance to travel to a wide spot. And by wide spot I don’t actually mean a wide spot. Just a slightly less narrow spot. At one point the road goes right through someone’s house. (I’ll take pictures. You’ll see.)

And then you turn off this superhighway and onto a gravel replica of the above. Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy. And there goes the muffler. And the shocks.

This part of the trip is actually a relief since there are fewer drivers.

The house itself is lovely. We are the first tenants, so it’s a brand-new place. Great Bosch appliances, a massive open fireplace, walls thick enough to survive cannon fire. And the view. I will write a lot more about this, and show some pix soon. I’ll just say that even the view from the bathroom could be framed. U We look down on San Francesco, and on the vineyards and across to villas perched on hillsides. Sometimes we look down on clouds that appear suddenly and then sneak away.

We don’t have the rhythm of the place yet. We are resisting the rusticity. Not rejecting the transplant, but not quite cathecting yet, either. It makes us all a little nervous being this far from a Target store. And until today when our two hardworking but not terribly effective cable guys finally got us online, it was closing in on us a little. It’s dark at night. There are stars. There is quiet. There’s some kind of bird that makes a strangled rooster sound in the morning. We hear of wild boar in the area.

Today we discovered that we lost our passports and two credit cards sometime in the last 48 hours. This unfortunate fact was entirely offset, and then some, by the reappearance of the internet. With the internet I can still see the world. Without it, just the view.

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“Back Online”