As I harbor a deep and unrelenting wanderlust but a simultaneous urge to nest, I have a particular fondness for that subgenre of travel writing wherein some privileged person goes to Tuscany or Provence, buys a dilapidated villa on a whim, and sets out to restore it to its former glory, all the while basking in the whimsy and sheer foreignness of his adopted culture. Think Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun and Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence.
For me, these tales showcase the paramount self-styled life: a lifestyle so off the beaten path, so gutsy, so delicious, free. And in this cultural upheaval, these lifestyle innovators achieve perfect balance between the desires for travel and newness, and for domestic comfort and attachment to place.
(Chosen in part because it comes with this sphinx:)
Of course, these books (and the inevitable movies) are also maddening in their lack of reality. Who can afford to leave ones former life, pack up the dog (and maybe partner) and fix up some beautiful, rambling villa as her sole occupation?
Well, as these tales tell us, it’s the established writer with a fat book advance, the divorceè with a decent settlement from her investment banker ex, the independently wealthy adventuress, or some person who enjoys a number of these avenues to financial freedom. All unlikely scenarios for an as-yet unaccomplished 27 year-old who neither married money nor was born into it.
And yet somehow, I take pleasure in these tales as the ultimate form of non-fiction escapism. They guide my if-I-won-the-lottery dreams and provide motivation to plan wisely for retirement. I suppose they also serve as an example of yet another sweet, if unlikely, alternative to the 9-5…
Happy Weekend Dreaming!
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Agreed! These are particulary beautiful and lovely things to day dream about!
Jean, I love this dream and your dilapidated villa is gorgeous! I’m rooting for you to make this one happen!!
Haha thank you! And it would work out nicely for you, too, if I realize this dream because you guys could visit!! 🙂