I love bloggers who leave you feeling inspired, that are encouraging with their zeal for life. Elizabeth from The Bradley's is one of those people. Her blog covers a wide arrange of topics such as family and healthy living; but it all centers around her family and living abroad and working abroad; currently in Thailand. Jeremy and I have always dreamt of living abroad and raising a family but still don't quite know what that looks like or if it will happen for us in the future. I think that's part of the reason Elizabeth's story appeals to me, she took her dream and made it into a reality. Read on for Elizabeth's story of their 'dream' location.
For 6 months our family took the plunge and relocated to the very place author Francis Mayes wrote about in her best seller Under The Tuscan Sun. I even had the pleasure of having lunch with her on one occasion, during the Tuscan Sun Festival. Living in such a remote hilltop town was a unique experience to say the least, and had its ups and downs.
When our daughter was around 2.5, our family decided to relocated to Tuscany after my husband finished his teaching contract in Korea. Despite our loving Asia, I had always intended on raising our kids near where I grew up ( France) and because of how many awesome, affordable places were available for rent in the Tuscan countryside, as well as the plethora of arts and culinary delights abound, we decided to move to Cortona. We had enough savings to live off of until my husband found a teaching job in Florence or more locally, and I had the dream in the back of my mind of us buying and renovating a small rustico.
Upon arrival, we stayed at an old monastery just outside of the town, which was to be honest the highlight of our stay. Nearly empty, the monastery grounds served as the nicest possible place for our daughter to run around while my husband visited various houses while looking for the perfect rental for us. The food was spectacular too...until the dining room closed due to their not being enough guests, forcing us to hike up the steep hill into the village every day for food.
Billy and the rental agent agreed that if we were not going to have a car, we should get an apartment in town. It just so happened that a gorgeous apartment with two balconies and bedrooms opened up across from the San Francesco church. To date I have never seen a nicer apartment, with 360 degree views of the Tuscan countryside. It was spectacular and we were elated to move in.
As winter came, the throngs of tourists that mobbed the small streets dissipated and my Mom granted us a visit. We also met our soon to be BFF Claudio, a local chemist and herbalist that had a store close to our apartment. My Mom stayed at a small hotel near the top of the hill ( Corys Ristoarte) which is also where Billy's family stayed when they visited shortly afterwards. We had some tremendous meals at the restaurant and enjoyed many walks throughout the cobble stone streets.
Apart from some of the wonders of living in rural Italy, there was also a downside. First of all, Cortona is a very conservative Catholic town and the gossip mill is in full circuit. So doing anything outside of the box ( such as homeschooling, working from home, etc) isn't exactly well received, or at least it wasn't for us. Second, getting groceries as well as oil to heat our home was a challenge; Billy had to take the bus down to nearby Camucia to get the essentials, then hike up the seemingly nevereneding hills that redefine the word steep. Lugging everything up the hills and up two flights of stairs was challenging. At the end of the day, we decided that Cortona wasn't right for us, for a number of reasons, and my husband was itching to get back to Thailand, which is where we currently live. I often wonder if things would have been different if we had indeed found a small house in the countryside instead of living in the center of a small town. Or if we had decided to move to Venice instead ( my favorite place on earth...). Regardless, we had many wonderful moments living under the Tuscan sun!