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Rebecca's View

Rebecca joined our message board on January 22, 2003 after one of our regulars, Gavin from Australia, convinced her that she should take a look. She has been happily talking with us since. She answers questions, gives great information about Italy and her part of Umbria, and posts informative and funny essays about life in Italy. We convinced her to give a try at writing regular essays for us, and now we have "Rebecca's View", a series of articles about life in Umbria. The series started in August 2003 (we have some earlier articles that we took from her message board postings), and every month Rebecca sends us a new article about life in Italy.


Rebecca Winke

I've been giving some thought to the whole idea of writing a book as of late (I've also been giving some thought to winning the lottery, and we can all see where that's got me) and it came to me while showering the other night that if I were to ever write a book (which ain't gonna happen, but let's just say for the sake of argument) I would bill myself as the anti-Francis Mayes.

Now, before I start getting death threats from devotees who have read all her books, painted their yard furniture yellow, and named their cat Ed, let me specify that in "anti" I don't mean anything against Ms. Mayes personally. I've only read one of her books (which I didn't particularly like, but I didn't like "Catcher in the Rye" either (c'mon Holden, get a grip) so that doesn't mean it can't be classified as an American Classic), and I'm sure that she's a perfectly nice lady (though she does claim to abhor tiramis, which proves that she is clearly from a different planet). I'm not trashing her, I'm just highlighting the fundamental differences between us.

The primary one is, of course, the fact that Francis Mayes can write (using words like mellifluous, God bless her) and cook, whereas I have considerable limitations on both fronts. Aside from that, what really separates us is how we have approached our Italian adventures from two very different angles. Francis Mayes is a generation older than I am, has an adult daughter and an established career, has some money and an upper-class upbringing, and uses her sojourns in Italy as a temporary respite from Real Life, never meaning to really settle here.

I am a thirty-something new mom, in that grey financial period of life between sleeping on your best friend's couch and living off Ramen noodles and Buying Tuscan Villas for Fun and Profit, who moved to Italy straight out of college (after a childhood in a particularly blue-collar area of Chicagoland) with the intent of staying for the long haul. This has led me to have a completely different experience with Italy and the Italians than Ms. Mayes, an experience which may be grittier and less dreamy and sell a heck of a lot less books and furniture, but one which is just as vital to understanding the whole experience of an ex-pat in rural central Italy.

So, I was thinking that instead of a book maybe I would just jot down life in Italy as I see it from time to time and see where that gets me. Pauline suggested calling it Rebecca's View, and who am I to argue with the Boss? However, the tricky thing about views is that you can never seem to get a perfect one, can you? Sometimes you are graced with a good look at the ocean, but there is a big power line or somebody's underwear hanging out to dry which detracts, sometimes you would have a lovely vista of some hill town, if it weren't for the damn dying umbrella pine right in front of your window. The one time you are ever at the top of the Statue of Liberty, it's foggy. There's always something.

Likewise, I may have a skewed picture of things sometimes, I may not see the forest for the trees, I may be completely lost in a haze of mist, but it will still be what I see from my vantage point, honestly reported (okay, with less swearing), really lived.

My mom will read it, anyway.

Rebecca's View is a series of monthly articles on Slow Travel. Read the article "Rebecca's View - Introduction" for more information.

Rebecca Winke lives in Assisi, Italy and operates Brigolante Guest Apartments. www.brigolante.com

© Rebecca Winke, 2003

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