Casteluzzo

I’ve changed the name of my blog to be the same as the URL. Casteluzzo (“little castle” in Italian). It’s the name of the house in the country we’re going to have someday. And I’ve subtitled it “In Search of a Dream to call Home.” We’re not sure exactly what our dream is, but we’re pursuing it nonetheless. As Bilbo says, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

I also decided to merge my old, very infrequent blog with Casteluzzo. It was interesting to go back and read the posts. Nearly every time I wrote, I mentioned Italy or Paris (or sometimes San Diego). I realize this is sort of an ongoing quest for me. So from now on, Casteluzzo is my blog.

So far, our dreams have brought us here to Italy, where Tony is in the process of having his citizenship recognized through a strange Italian citizenship law. His great-great-grandfather was Italian, and Italians hold on to their roots.

We’ve considered living many places. On a good day, I think la vita bella is worth whatever you have to throw at it to make it work. On a bad day, I think I’d like to go to what we call “one of the countries up North.” Germany, or even more so (“I thought I could organize freedom. How Scandinavian of me . . .”). The travel agencies here in Italy put up pictures of Norwegian fjords in the summertime.

These days we think we might find our Casteluzzo in France. Maybe we’ll do like the Brits, and renovate a dilapidated old French country house in the middle of the lavender fields of Provence. Then again, people do that under the Tuscan sun too.

We decided once that we were going to live in Paris. It’s far and away the most visited city in the world. (We’ve never been to France, but we’ll like it, just as we love Italy after seeing it for the first time the day we moved here. We are planning on visiting France before we move, though. Just as soon as my legality difficulties are straightened out.)

In London last week, I was reminded of how much I really love the big city. The beautiful parks, good restaurants, grand architecture, cultural and artistic events, the hum and buzz of living in the midst of it all.

But then there’s the allure of the country, where my dream is to have a little farm with goats and chickens and a garden full of heirloom vegetables, and horses, and sunsets over the mountains.

A few weeks ago I was reading my daughter Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse, and realized the dominant dilemma of my life right now is whether I am a city mouse or a country mouse. No, really.

At the moment I live in “Beautiful Chiusa Pesio,” the quintessential small Italian town at the bottom of a mountain with a ruined castle. It is beautiful. I love it. We buy our raw milk from the woman across the street. Tony began his first batch of yoghurt with it today. He says it’s his first step toward becoming a master cheese maker. I have my sprouts out on the counter. We saw fireflies on our evening walk the other night. It’s perfect. But something is missing.

I can’t hear the cars outside my window all night. Nobody’s keeping the place alive while I sleep. It’s difficult to explain the allure of concrete and crowds. But there’s something in it that I can’t live without for too long.