Casey and His Italian Girlfriend
Highlights and Selective Memories
Casey and Sophia--reminders of romantic tales of yore. Beautiful
children enjoying each other with the purity of innocence. They had
never met but were soul mates as soon as they saw each other--each
had been looking forward to the other. Casey speaks English--as he
frequently would say "I speak English--a lot."  Sophia speaks Italian.
Didn't make a difference as they both speak the language of children at
play. They ran the fields together, dug sand holes at the beach of
Talamone, swam the waves, had their "lunch date", chased the dog--in
other words, they were picture book children. Casey doesn't forget
Nico's invitation to visit "by himself" when he is older--next year. Nico
and Elena, our Montepulciano friends, are Sophia's parents.
The First and the Best:
Most certainly the most amazing part of this trip was introducing an almost 5 year-old to the joys of
Italia. We love visiting Italy--a land that has welcomed us several times--always warmly and with new
adventures. The adventure this time was seeing the land and experiencing its people in a new and
wonderful way. The eyes of a child see differently than grown-ups eyes and a child's comments and
observations can demonstrate amazing insight. Often our pleasure came not from the magnificence of the
cathedral but from the awe in a little boy's eyes as he stood transfixed in front of the tableau. And--rather
than driving white roads in search of the mystery around the next curve, we found every playground in
every small and isolated village.             

                             Do we treasure the memories of 2003?  More than I can say.
This is Casey!
Our first and most exhilerating memory is arriving in Rome
from Barcelona, getting our car and finding ourselves
driving the roads of familiar and beloved Tuscany. We just
looked at each other, smiled and felt that we were home.
The land was familiar, the hills beckoning, the memories of
past trips vivid and filling us. We both felt relaxed, alive,
and happy. We zipped along the highway taking in each
familiar sight and turn in the road-- sensing our excitement
grow exponentially as we neared our "home away from
home" Sant' Antonio in Montepulciano.  There is no place
in the world that has the ambience of the hills of Tuscany.
If you have been there--you agree. If you are going--your
love affair is about to begin.
Tuscan Countryside
Sophia and Casey--Lunch at the Beach
We had a fun and relaxing day at Talamone. Unlike most Italian
beaches with rows of lounges, umbrellas, cabanas and thousands
of people crowding the sand, Talamone is a small beach at the tip
of the Monti dell'Uccellina (The   Maremma Nature Park.) We
spent the day here with wonderful Aunt Paola (Sophia's great aunt)
who rented          lounges for us and let us all share her cabana.
We were able to relax, watching the water ebb and flow as the       
   children dug in the wet sand, making sand castles and other
mysterious creations. The water here is calm and shallow so it is
perfect for children.

When we decided we were hungry, we just meandered up to the
little beach side restaurant which cooked up        wonderful pasta,
shellfish and other seafood. Casey, much to our surprise and his,
found that squid is quite good. Even in a little place like this, food is
yum-yum good. The fish I had was spectacular. Later in the
afternoon, we drove the short distance to Paola's house up in the
hills, where she and Franco shared the notorious Italian hospitality
which is such a pleasure to experience and accept. If you are
wanting to go to the beach--but are not enthralled with the
European beach scene, you would probably enjoy it here. It's only
an hour or two from Montepulciano below Grosseto.
Aunt Paola, Ken, Casey and Sophia
Fun at the Beach
Scooby, Cinco and their three, unnamed campanions--as well as Uncle Duesy added unexpected dimension to our
experiences. We discovered on this trip that only children tend to create their own entourage. In our case it was 5
dogs and the invisible, magical uncle. Somewhere along the way, we picked up Scooby who then needed a
companion so Cinco showed up (we were in Spain a while before Italy) and then three more were with us for a
short time. Unfortunately, Scooby was not well behaved and kept jumping in the front seat and being mischievious
in myriad other ways. Casey needed to scold him quite often. Cinco, on the other hand, had a very well developed
sense of proper doggy demeanor and always did what was right. He crossed with the lights, did not hide under the
beds and, certainly, didn't lick the cereal bowl! We were all pleased to find that both of them knew how to behave
in restaurants and didn't bother the other diners--as, Casey pointed out to us one night, they were quite invisible.

Uncle Duesy joined us along the coast of Spain and stayed with us quite a while. In fact, occasionally, we find that
he is here with us in San Diego. Uncle Duesy had a lot to say about things we should and should not do--including
what would make interesting day trips. We were all sad when he needed to leave us for a while in Spain but he did
find us later.  Here are pictures of Uncle Duesy, Scooby and Cinco as drawn by Casey.

Scooby and Cinco
playing with their
Uncle Duesy
waving goodbye.