First blogged June 28, 2012
Last night, Nick and I watched Under the Tuscan Sun. This is the third time that I have dragged my patient and long suffering husband to the living room couch to watch this film with me. And it’s probably the 10th or 12th time that I have watched the film myself. While Toscana may not be the part of Italy that captures my imagination (this is not a dig at Tuscany – it is every bit as romantic and beautiful as the movie portrays), the fictionalized story of Frances Mayes absolutely does capture me and has ever since the film was released in 2003.
At the time that Under the Tuscan Sun hit the theatres I was divorced and had been on my own with my daughter for nine years. I related to Frances in so many ways. I understood the pain of marriage ended by my ex-husband’s infidelity. Her struggle to grow beyond the heartache and the loneliness was more familiar than I cared to admit. Watching Frances reinvent herself was exciting; her brief fling with Marcello, while ultimately short-lived, threw me into a daydream that, perhaps, I too could have a thrilling romantic affair with a dark-haired Italian man. As Frances’ wish for a family and a wedding came true, I believed that my wishes could come true as well. And, to make it even more wonderful, it happened against the backdrop of a country that had remained the very definition of romance and magic for me since my teenage years.
While the fictionalized story of Frances Mayes in the film, and her autobiographical account in the book of the same name, made me almost salivate with the desire to do the same, I had a ten-year-old daughter, a mortgage, and a career that kept me from even considering something like a move to another country. A house in Italy was nothing but a very unlikely daydream.
Fast forward to April 2005. A good friend had convinced me that Internet dating was a good idea. Well, in fact she threatened to make a profile for me if I didn’t do it myself. Although the thought of online dating was terrifying, she was right. It was a good idea – in fact it was a great idea. I spent six months going out for coffee, for walks, and to movies with a series of very nice men that I connected with through the dating site that my friend, Wendy, had insisted I join. While all of the men that I met and chatted with online were fun, interesting, kind, etc., but there was no spark – that connection that would make me want to see them more than once or twice was not there. Then, one day, early in October, I met someone new for coffee. He was already waiting in the coffee shop and I could see him sitting at a table next to a window. Dark hair, dark eyes, I had found my Sicilian romance.
It was clear to us almost immediately that we were a match and by the third date we were an exclusive couple. We had discovered at that first coffee that we were both travellers – travellers and not tourists. We both had done a lot of travelling, and we were thrilled to find out that we had each visited Sicily at age 13. I was especially excited to hear that topping Nick’s list for future travel was Italy. It was, however, the first time we watched Under the Tuscan Sun that the topic of buying a home in Italy came up. A retirement home in Sicily actually seemed to be in our future.
Today, that Sicilian-Canadian man is my husband and this summer we are heading off to Sicily to search for our retirement home. I look back over the almost seven years since we met and I realize that I have indeed, reinvented myself. How appropriate it is, then, that we are following the path of Frances Mayes and her husband. The wishes that I made back in 2003 have all come true. I have a loving husband and a daughter who has grown up to be an independent, fierce young woman. To years ago I returned, with Nick and my daughter, to both Venice and Sicily and they were as wonderful as I remembered.
And now, Nick and I are planning a life together in Sicily. How could I have imagined, that day back in 1974 when I climbed onto the plane bound for London, that the exciting holiday I was about to embark upon would be the first step to a lifetime moving me towards my dream home in romantic Sicily.