Agriturismo, Assisi

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Agriturismo means “Farm Holiday” in Italian.  With two young boys who still love animals and running around outside, a week on a farm seemed like the perfect way to see Italy off the beaten path.  I was a little worried that a week of Agricultural Tourism might be too “rustic,” but fortunately that worry was totally wrong!  Agriturismo Colle Pu was our dream vacation.  Maybe we just have simple dreams, but Jake and Eli are already asking if we can come back every year.  That sounds pretty good to me!

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The road to Colle Pu wound up from Assisi into the hills, unpaved in some places but lined with blackberry bushes and olive trees to keep us on track.  I’m not sure I would have chosen this place if I’d realized how far out of town it was, but the views and the cool breezes outside the city were the reason it turned out to be so perfect.  The Umbrian sun gets HOT during the summer!  And it makes me wonder, if the reason all these towns were built up in the hills wasn’t to escape invaders, but to get away from the heat?  In Assisi we were drenched and sweaty, but up at Agriturismo Colle Pu the breeze was cool enough to leave the windows open at night.

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We were greeted by a sweet lady named Gloria and shown to our room, with bunk beds, a terrace, air conditioning, fluffy towels, and a full kitchen.   Wi-fi worked well enough to stream a movie one afternoon when it rained.   There were cats!

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And a pool for doing cannonballs.

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Breakfast each day was in a bright room overlooking orchards of olives and figs.  Plums, apricots, and pears grew in trees next to the grapes and the chickens.  A fresh jam tart was set out every morning along with croissants and a marble cake.  The boys discovered coconut yogurt with big bowls of muesli, and little tarts made from tomatoes and cheese.  We ordered Due Cappuccini, Forte.  Prego!   Frizzante!  Italian was not so hard.  The boys got the accent down pretty well.

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Our plan was to relax, which for me meant not doing dishes and letting someone else make decisions.  I’m starting to believe that “choice” can be the enemy of free will.  How do I know what I want when I have so many choices?  What if I choose wrong?  Choice can be paralyzing.  So for dinner every night, we loved going to the farm’s restaurant for a set, 3-course menu chosen by someone else.  It was like eating at Grandma’s house.  We had whatever was being made that day, and like Grandma’s, it was always good.  We asked the boys if they’d like to go somewhere else for dinner but they always said “No!  The food is good here!”  I guess they don’t need choice either.

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Our wonderful tour of Grandma’s Italian food included pork stew, beef cheeks, red wine risotto, lasagna, roasted chicken, homemade gelato, and the best tiramisu we’ve ever had.  One night we requested gnocchi and they brought out four huge bowls.  Jake and Eli were busy drawing and weren’t always hungry by 8pm, but since we requested it, Mike and I felt obligated to finish all four bowls.  We were pretty full after that.

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In the mornings, Mike and I took walks before the boys woke up.  There were cicadas buzzing and birds chirping; the sage green of olive trees mingled with dark green junipers and golden patches of late summer straw.  Bees buzzed around blackberry bushes spilling onto the road, and the air shimmered with silvery webs of spiders.

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We wandered through a suburb of fig trees, past chickens and zucchini blossoms, to the vineyard and its dewy clusters of grapes.   It’s like a movie!  What did we do to deserve this?

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In the afternoon the kids shout from the pool, jumping with endless energy, over and over again.  Blow-up rafts are the magic elixir of pure happiness for a 10-year old.  Swimming in Italy requires swimming caps, and the boys look so cute with their goggles and smooth orange heads.

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Watching movies also defines “vacation” for Jake and Eli, so I will remember this as the vacation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  How have I missed the wonderfulness of Harry Potter for so long?!  As a family, it sparks so much conversation, so much thought about good and evil, and the power of our choices.  How many horcruxes do each of us face in a lifetime?  How many times do we have to die to who we were, to become someone new?  Maybe that’s a little too deep for the kids, but the movie speaks an adult message too.  Maybe the urge to travel is a horcrux for those of us who seek to keep improving ourselves.  Travel is how we grow.

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Although it’s funny, the boys may have matured into playing Fortnight this summer, but on this trip I still hear “Do you have cornbread?  What about bacon pies?  I just got 5 pancakes!  My animals are all ready!”   I love hearing them play HayDay.  I love hearing them happy.

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A week on a farm is a perfect way to remember who we are, and who we want to be.  We sit on the porch sipping Prosecco, read books by the pool, and remember that life is just a string of moments that we can choose to make worthwhile.  Whether it’s a country farm or a city apartment, we all find things to commit ourselves to.  We take on what we can handle.

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I will never be an Italian, or a farmer, or a 10-year old boy,   But this week we are all learning from each other, a to become better versions of what we’re supposed to be.

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