Oggi ho una sorpresa per i lettori del blog di Studentessa Matta. Ho chiesto alla college autore—Kyle Tackwell Ball di scrivere un guest post per noi. Ero molto colpita dal suo libro in cui lei parla di un restauro di una proprietà che aveva acquistato vicino a Greve in Toscano. Ma, non ha comprato una casa qualsiasi! No! Invece si è innamorata di una chiesa e l’ha comprata per farne una casa.

Today I have a special surprise for the readers of Studentessa Matta’s blog. I asked fellow author Kyle Tackwell Ball to write a guest post for us. I, for one, was quite taken with her memoir about the restoration of a property she bought near Greve in Toscano. But, she didn’t buy just any house! Istead, she fell in love with a church and bought it to turn it into a home.

Photo Credit: Kyle Ball

Nel suo libro intitolato “Altared—A Tale of Renovating a Medieval Church in Tuscany” Kyle racconta le sue varie esperienze italiane, che sono davvero divertenti e interessanti! Include anche alcune storie di fantasmi! Ora, qui sul blog, sono felice di condividere un piccolo frammento di alcuni dei ricordi di Kyle sulle sue avventure italiane.

In her book entitled “Altared—A Tale of Renovating a Medieval Church in Tuscany,” Kyle talks about her various Italian experiences, which are fun and interesting! Now, here on the blog, I’m happy to share a little snippet of a few of Kyle’s recollections about her Italian adventures.

Kyle Ball

Ecco il guest post di Kyl.

Photo Credit: Kyle Ball

By way of introduction to Melissa’s readers and students, my husband and I purchased a historic property outside of Florence in 2000. I’ve written a book about our years there, “Altared: A Tale of Renovating a Medieval Church in Tuscany.” This 11-year Italian adventure changed my life, mostly for the better, and will provide a wealth of material to entertain strangers at cocktail parties for years to come.

Photo Credit: Kyle Ball

Melissa asked me to write about living in Italy and/or learning the language. I found driving in a foreign country to be challenging, especially in Italy. One-way streets, pedestrian crossings, blind corners, and restricted access areas all contribute to the chaos if you’re trying to park and walk into town. Our home was in Greve-in-Chianti, only a 30-minute drive south of Florence, so I would often find myself in, literally, a tough spot trying to find a parking place in Florence.

One morning, I was late for a meeting with my notaio (lawyer) whose office is located in the heart of the city. Visibility was low, and the rain-soaked streets made for slick stops and starts. As I rounded a corner towards my favorite parking garage a moped – driven by a helmeted young man – swiped just to the left of my car, almost striking the mirror. I slammed on the brakes and said a silent prayer of thanks for not injuring the rider. I said a couple of other things I had learned in Italian, but they are not printable here. He had come out of nowhere, and exited just as quickly, weaving in and out between the parked cars on the road. As he flipped up his middle finger, the universal sign for his frustration, he yelled out an Italian phrase that has stuck with me ever since, and one I thought was warranted considering the circumstances: “Stupida Donna!!!!”

Friends who visited us and rented a car to tour the Tuscan countryside were a constant source of amusement and amazement. I would rarely agree to ride with them, my basic survival instinct, coupled with the raw fear of their incompetence behind the wheel pitted against Italian drivers, in full gear. They would inevitably call my cellphone during outings, asking how to exit the area around the Duomo in central Florence and find a parking spot on the Ponte Vecchio. (A word to the wise – there is no parking on the Ponte Vecchio.) How they drove that far into town without being stopped at a checkpoint, or how they negotiated the tiny cobblestoned streets meant only for pedestrians, was perplexing. If they didn’t arrive home in time for an aperitivo at 5 pm, I started the cocktail hour without them.    

Photo Credit: Kyle Ball

A visit from our friends, the Tilghman family, provided an interesting lunch outing in Castellina-in-Chianti. This tiny Tuscan gem has several nice restaurants in the center of town, but one of our guests suggested a country eatery he had read about in a “Slow Food Guide to Italy.” Things were a little crazy with so many guests, and I neglected to call ahead and see if the restaurant was open. We chugged along in our rented minivan towards the address, but eventually ended up in a field with no discernible road thanks to Dave’s GPS and “foolproof” printed directions. As it turned out, the restaurant was long closed, and I had to back up through a field of cows and sheep, trying desperately to get back to the main highway.

The lessons I learned to live by in Italy, which included a three plus year renovation of an abandoned church, still stand. Most problems are better solved after a glass or two of Chianti Classico Riserva.

Photo Credit: Studentessa Matta, Deposit Photos

Grazie Kyle, per il tuo guest post!

Thanks Kyle, for your guest post!

La trasformazione della chiesa in casa che
Kyle ha realizzato è davvero mozzafiato.
Mi quasi viene la voglia di correre direttamente
in Toscana per trovare una chiesa
da convertire in una dimora abituale!

The transformation of a church into a house that
Kyle has accomplished is truly breathtaking.
It almost makes me want to run directly to Tuscany
to find a church to convert into a habitual residence!

Potete trovare il libro di Kyle su Amazon.
You can find Kyle’s book on Amazon.

If you would like to get back to Tuscany, (and who doesn’t????) join me this September 2021 in Arezzo or Lucca for two great language immersion programs. More details for both trips can be found by clicking the button below.

2021 Matta Italian Language Immersion Programs

Learn More!

Plans are also in the works for next year’s 2022 Matta Immersion Programs! Stay tuned.
I’m revisiting some favorite places
as well as adding a new venue to the mix!

State sintonizzati! Stay tuned!

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