We stayed in Torino our first night- picked up the car, drove into town and found a cozy college pizza joint. The next morning, we took off for the Alps, to a little agritourismo north of Biella where my friend, Michele Ratti, operates a goat farm and sells his cheese. I worked on Michele’s farm four summers ago when I WWOOFed there. (Worldwide Workers on Organic Farms- check it out online. Every country has its site.)
We arrived to find a much busier place than I had left- he had since hired a cook and had extra WWOOFers and friends helping run the place. Though we were there on the weekend, his peak visitors time, we were able to follow him around in his duties and play catch up in the twenty four hours we visited.
And Rachel got to milk goats.
Mozarellina was all grown up since I saw her last and she thought I was her mother. I was happy to find out they pronounced her name with an exaggerated American accent still to make fun of how I used to say her name. Together, Michele and I hung a Turkish eye I had brought him in the doorway to bring him better luck in time to come.
It is a magical, special place up there in those mountains, staring at Monta Rosa; I promised Michele I would be back.
We returned the car in Torino, and headed for Firenze the next day. We, by accident, as we did many times in Italy, found the perfect B&B by accident.
Things we did in Florence: walked, ate, shopped in little boutiques, went to the Galileo museum of astrology, went to the DaVinci museum of inventions, saw an intimate opera in a small church (Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro – played it in high school). Interesting things learned: Islam used astrology to determine the location of Mecca and the times of day to pray; Aristotle was the one who came up with the four elements of fire, air, water, and earth; Galileo was found guilty like a witch for his heliocentrism.
I left my dear friend, Rachel, in Florence to board a train for Merano, a small town in northwestern Italy where I would begin my next adventure: a 3-1/2 week poetry institute studying the works of Ezra Pound and working on my own poetry.