Isn’t That Near Tuscany?
When we found our place in the Pugliese countryside, our friends and family thought we were out of our minds. At first it all sounded romantic, even semi-glamorous. “Martina Franca . . . isn’t that near Tuscany?”
A quick map check for reference confirmed that we had instead committed to a small town in southern Italy. Everyone was horrified. “Southern Italy? Aren’t you worried about the mafia?” “Do you feel safe going out at night there?” “Do you have to bribe the contractor to get your house remodeled?” We started to experience contact anxiety born from generations of Godfather-inspired stereotypes.
During that first year back in California, we worried, too. Were we so hopelessly besotted with the place that we had completely lost our minds? What if Martina Franca turned out to be considerably less charming than we originally thought? Just how much over our heads were we? Worst of all, what if we made a colossal mistake? There wasn’t much external positive reinforcement so we created our own bubble of positive thinking. The strain was considerable.
Update: We do, actually, go out at night. Routinely. With considerably more confidence than we did anywhere in the U.S. We didn’t bribe our contractor. Our renovations concluded under budget and on time. We are over the moon about our town, its people and our lives here. All is well.