Colors of Tuscany

It was exactly four years ago, as he turned twenty-one, that my son went off to study in Rome for his college junior semester abroad. On his first day there, while celebrating his birthday at a local bar, he lost his wallet (or he was pickpocketed) and we received a frantic late-night call about canceling and replacing credit cards, driver’s license, etc. (We had warned him about the possibility of this very thing just the day before as we drove him to the airport!) We calmly took it all in stride. We were relieved that he wasn’t hurt and that he didn’t lose his passport. Looking back, it simply was an inauspicious way to start a four-month-long adventure overseas.  

Never having visited Italy ourselves, our son’s temporary residence there and our daughter’s spring break (she was a college freshman at the time) provided the perfect excuse for a family vacation. We eagerly planned and embarked upon a visit between Palm Sunday, Passover, and Easter.

Our time in Rome and Florence changed me in ways I never could have anticipated. First, I became a fan of red wines. Chianti didn’t give me headaches as did most other red wines and the flavors of Tuscan vineyards (e.g. Brunello DiMontalcino) are now my top choices. Next, I observed my children as young adults for the first time; separate and independent from me. In a museum, they actually got into an argument about whether Bernini or Michelangelo was the better sculptor. I hardly recognized them in their intense conversation as they presented fact-based reasons to back up their choices. (Give props to art history classes and college tuition dollars as work!) Last, but not least, I fell in love with the colors and styles of Tuscany. The old world and beautifully aged woods, stones, tiles, iron and bronze, and sun-kissed hues all around simply spoke to me.

*  *  *

I recently started updating and de-cluttering my home. With becoming an “empty-nester,” I decided it was time to regroup and refresh. The main floor of the house now boasts some upgrades (i.e. travertine floors and iron spindles up the stairs), but mostly trim work and warm-toned paints* of olive, gold, and clay that belie a Tuscan flair.

In honor of my son’s twenty-fifth birthday and upcoming marriage in August, I tackled his room earlier this week. It was time to box up the collections of sports trophies, team pictures, pennants, and die-cast cars that had been accumulated over years. It was time to say goodbye to the gray paint he chose for his bedroom walls fifteen years ago. The caramel-gold color that brightens “his” space now reminds me of a house I saw near the Spanish Steps.

*  *  *

Today I stood in the doorway of my daughter’s room. It is covered in splashes of cool teal, lime, brown, and white stripes; totally the “wrong” color palette of the “new” me. The painter asked if her room was on the list to be painted next. I paused…I stammered a bit…finally I told him, “No.”

I rationalized…It’s freezing in Chicago. She might pack up and come home. Her stuff is still here. She would want the comfort of her own surroundings. Maybe she wants a say in the new look of “her” room…Truth be told, I’m not ready yet. Tuscany will have to wait a bit longer.

* My thanks and love to my “Faux Fairy” Linda Marie Olds,!

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