Florence

Consume and Update: Life, Tolerance and Free Guides

If you're always learning, hopefully you're never bored. Here's my attempt at bringing you the quality information I'm learning by this week. Christine created a series this month on what she knows best: giving a lifestyle some massive alterations to become one's dream life.

This series seeks to give you the practical, real world steps you need to take to get from wherever you are, to exactly where you want to be– traveling the world and living the lifestyle you want.

Today marks her 20th day in the series, and even if you don't harbor a desire to drop what you're doing to live at large in the world, reading her steps toward being location independent can uncover whatever dormant lifestyle shifts that are begging to be released in you. I personally enjoy Day 16: Becoming a Digital Nomad, The Freelance Edition as well as some assorted tips from Day 15: The Not-So-Secret Trick to Finding Cheap Airfare.

Brave New Traveler's Ian MacKenzie brings to our attention a video about tolerance and diversity that is worth the 8 minutes of attention.

Spiritual Enlightenment

Spiritual Enlightenment

Christine Garvin continues to think philosophically about travel's influence on personal identity and self-respect. It's the underlying theme of it all, and there's no point in continuing whatever mission you have if you don't have a conscious emphasis on this in your life. It helps to read these works regularly.

l now feel in my bones something that has been said to me time and time again over those last 10 years: to have others look at you with appreciation, you must first appreciate yourself. And the way to attain that appreciation for the self and connect to spirit is to gain some understanding of all those other people out there roaming the earth.

Other Discoveries This Week

Elance.com and Guru.com: As I'm beginning my freelancing career, it's important to know there are websites like these making it easier to bridge connections between suppliers and demanders.

Kayak Buzz: I've been looking for something like this. It's almost like having an eject button.

The Happy Planet Index: An independent think tank that believes in economics as if people and the planet mattered.

Phoenix: Four French dudes that make up a quality band

Update on Nomadderwhere

Speaking Engagements: On Thursday, October 1st, I will drive to Northern Indiana to present my travels to interested Hoosiers. If you're a friend of my grandparents, you'll be seeing me in a Peabody conference room, chatting about travel photographs and the dramatic stories behind them. If you live in Wabash, Indiana, be sure to reserve your space at the Honeywell House fast, because the room is already filling to capacity for my later presentation. But there will be no lectures, because in the spirit of lifelong learning, I won't for one second pretend I'm not there to learn from the audience as well.

Free Guides: I receive e-mails fairly frequently from friends and family asking for tips on certain travel destinations. In an attempt to offer what I know to those who may benefit, I've created free guides to cities and countries I've visited, which will continue to grow in number as I continue to get those kind of e-mails. Thus far I've offered my city guide of Florence, a first timer's guide to India, and some pointers and background for the Greek isles. With each guide, there is the option of the pretty or the printer-friendly version, depending on how you will read and enjoy the material! Email lindsay {at} nomadderwhere.com if you have a request for a free guide!

Old Stompin' Grounds: Day 08

What thrills me today? The cool, green smell of rain blowing through every Tuscan vineyard and smokehouse, past our patio. Florence summoned us this morning to relive my past and satiate Dad's architectural curiosities. Everything was exactly as it had been, give or take a few minor changes to my favorite panini joint. Today was not about the points of interest and getting our fill of each but creating a wish list: picnic and drawing in the Boboli gardens, catch an early bus into town to hike up the Duomo's cupola, sunset at the Piazzale Michelangelo, spots of interest Allison would enjoy, and discotecas for the occasional late night. The sky was a little dreary for my reimmersion into Florence, but the clouds, questionable smells and ballsy Florentine men enveloped me with a feeling most New Yorkers must experience with the subways, car exhaust, and public urination of their beloved city.

Today we bought every type of wine in Tuscany from a sweet old man that has run my old wine stop for the last 50 years. He had a darling smile, sour breath, and a true desire to treet us sweetly. He doesn't live to work, but if he has to, he makes it an opportunity to make dear acquaintances.

The rain now coats every visible hillside with a thin slick that just barely gives the dry but hearty soil a satisfying gulp. Just enough wind to turn a page of an idle book or brush the hair back. Enough to send the parents inside and leaving me with the slow and natural arrival of spring. A one hundred year old olive tree that sits next to me has a single twig fluttering under the light stream of the rain gutter, and since this house and that tree haven't moved for a century, it appears I am watching a tiny moment of perpetual history in this little Tuscan town.

It seems quite evident that the Italian mind is primally connected to the nature that surrounds it, and this union makes me long for the understanding to feel what I sense, the highest regard for passion and the present - two words I hope will characterize this journey of mine.

A 'Cha-ching' Opportunity: Day 07

After a morning of reading the lyrical prose of the Tuscan countryside by Frances Mayes, I felt like my magic would come from cooking the best and freshest Italian meals of the season. But I experienced a moment of pure divine magic later on that made this expectation of good home cooking so miniscule in comparison. I feel somewhat compelled to explain the whole day in perfect detail, but I doubt I will really care in the long run about these pure moments that now fall completely into the background - like saving drowning moths during my first chilly swim or our big lunch of garlic frittatas and basil tortellini, surrounded by thunderstorms in the distance. No, I would rather focus my written attention to the wonderful coincidence of the day: the new job opportunity.

The patron's baby gets bored. I pick him up to bounce on my knee and prepare him for his midday meal. I get a job offer to be a live-in nanny for nine months. Sounds like a dream, no? The couple, that not only would house and feed me in exchange for child care but also encourage the start of my art career in Florence, also understands the need for travel and experience as a young adult. Is there a downside in sight? Millions of miles away among the dimmest stars? Even those distant gas balls are cheering for my Florentine nanny idea. Such a rare possibility in my mind before and now my most promising post-travel plan. The benefits of free room and board, possible local travel, beautiful surroundings in the best part of Florence, my favorite city on Earth, an awesome baby and equally great parents, free time for tutoring, learning, or just living - all amazing perks.

And to make it even more appealing for both sides, I can use July as a trial period to live this life with them and see if it works for all of us. How to make this decision...what a tough dilem--done!

Death by Stick Shift: Day 06

For the last two years, I've had a reoccuring dream. I have just arrived in Florence, Italy with my parents in tow, and I can't recognize a single landmark. Highways in the sky suspended over modern buildings and massive tomato sculptures - sort of a 'paved paradise' situation which makes me cringe. Today's early morning bus boat through the Grand Canal next to a Grecian cruise ship was no big deal. Speaking with the train ticket seller in perfect Italian was cause for a mini 'cha-ching' motion. But to return to that city of concentrated culture and passion, one my heart would gladly withstand the greatest amount of hardship to be in, had a moment of a sweet release for me yet also one of over-waited deja-vu. My memory hardly lost a street corner over the past two longing years. The perfection of the moment also came with the realization that we had a perfect Tuscan villa to get to. It's cliche for a reason. But first we had to reach the driveway.

Stall...a little movement...stop sign...and stall...confusing street...hit a few pylons...a hideous/hilarious curse word or twelve...drive in circles...drive the wrong way on a one way...stall...wrong turn...and finally, smoke billowing from under the hood of our 2009 Alfa Romeo. Dad's face grew as red as the Chianti of his dreams and his mouth became that of a sailor's. And when comedy or therapy couldn't help his 30 year rusty stick shift skills, he threw up his hands and flipped on the hazard lights.

Since Mom was busy burying her head in the backseat luggage, I very reluctantly got behind the wheel for the first time in a new country. Zooming past me were the weathered Florentine racers who enjoy testing your next move and leaving you to quiver in their dust. I was scared to the point of pre-scheduled vomitting and moments of terror that produced songs and humming from the depths of my most primal being.

When you can only expect failure from yourself but seem to slip by unharmed, it feels like pure joy while running through an active and unpredictable minefield. Once I escaped the pee-in-your-pants phase of Florentine traffic, I reached the organically lain backroads of Tuscany. Steadily crawling to each small town in second gear, I waited for the imminent, drunken fool to fly into my lane and send my Italian car flying into tree after olive tree. Foliage-covered death cliffs taunted me on one side throughout the country weave. But once I was no longer blocked in on all sides by Ferrari-red hot-blooded Kenevals, I began to enjoy my drive on the wild side. In fact, awe-inspiring views spread around us in 360•. I threatened the parents to encourage their enjoyment of the sights a-plenty because this drive, which was giving me crow's feet, needed to have some worthwhile benefit.

And with driving instructions only dictated from irrelevant starting points for us, the game plan was to use street signs and just smell our way there. After all that time searching on mapquest and identifying our little street on my phone map, it seemed like a do-able task, especially with the help of our palpable anticipation. Giorgio and Lizzi at a nearby bar had to ultimately steer us in the right direction after lending us a WC and our first Birra Morrettis.

Pure luck of our aimless wander and I stalled in front of Poggio al Pipi. It felt like the end of a relentless pilgrimmage, even though it included flying across the ocean, training and ferrying around Lake Como, and a €200 per night Venetian hotel from a National Lampoon movie. I'll skip over the obvious part about our patrons being gems with a darling bambino and a loveable little Dachshund. I'll also skip how perfect and authentic our villa turned out to be - surpassing the most lofty expectations with the charm of burning wood barbeques and 110 organically grown olive trees. I don't know how else to say, without using regurgitated and expected vocabulary, that whatever sense of Italy this place recalls, those moments are presently ours. I can only hope that the price we pay to live like a Tuscan allows us complete rights of every basil infused moment of this experience. I sauteed some vegetables as my parents chugged Italian beers and sopped up juicy olive oil with their crispy bread. I think the air of rural Tuscany brings out the full aromatic colors of garlic and basil.

Pages and pages scribed without a moment to rest my tired hand while others read up on their most recent Italian inquiries. And as I relish in the retrieval of my first (of many) obligatory foot massage, I can only believe we have interpreted the meanings of our own dolce vitas and lived them fully within these first few hours. Tuscany waits untainted and unaware we are here, and my laughable aspirations to run the gravel roads or imbibe the sweet, sun-ripened air of the morning still have an inch of possibility...mi scusi...a centimeter. Where's my Bella Tuscany book?