I have arrived! ! After a smooth flight to Rome I met up with fellow Lemon Tree resident Lydia, an artist from Georgia, at the Rome airport and together we navigated the hectic train station and managed to get ourselves on the right train to Chiusi. In Chiusi we were met by our hosts and whisked off with the others for our first stop – the grocery store. Dinners are provided by our private chef, but we do breakfast and lunch in our individual houses, so we needed to stock up. Grocery shopping in a strange country, when you don’t speak the language and are jet lagged and sleep deprived is an adventure! I managed to grab some amazing local cheese, olives, bread, grapes, eggs and bread – and of course…chocolate!
We then drove out of Chiusi for about half an hour and as we ascended into the hills the scenery became more and more magical. It had been raining all day and ribbons of mist were lying in the hills. We arrived at our house, La Capanne, just before sunset. Our house is a three-story villa set on a hill.
There are five of us in La Capanne and we were all sent off to discover our rooms. The week before I arrived we’d been told what house we were in, and I had gone on the website to look at photos of all the rooms. When I came to the yellow room with a beautiful writing desk and wicker chair I thought, oh I can see myself there. On the night we arrived in La Capanne I walked down the hall till I came to a room with my name on it. I slowly opened the door and walked into… the Tuscan yellow room with the beautiful writing desk.
We just had time to settle into our house before we were whisked up to the top of the hill where we made our way along cobblestone lanes past the chapel to the courthouse. The restored 18th century courthouse is the building where we gather each night for cocktails, craft talks from the writer and artist in residence and dinner.
We walked into a magnificent room with wood fire blazing and were welcomed with glasses of Prosecco. After drinks we went down into the dining area where 24 of us gathered around a large table lit with three elegant candelabras. Dinner our first night was pasta with fresh arugula and lemon – simple and perfect! Dessert was almond cake with poached cherries.
We are a very diverse group with a mix of writers and artists from all across the globe. Surprisingly this year the east coast of Canada is well represented with Wendy MacIssac a Cape Breton poet living in P.E.I., Angela Antle a CBC producer living in Newfoundland, Jennifer Hatt from New Glasgow and myself. Our residency hosts made a special Thanksgiving toast for all the Canadians.
As I looked around the dining room on my first night, the room alive with great conversations, food and wine, I raised my glass to my dear friend Sheree Fitch, whose dream had brought me here.