Posted by: main street writers | February 15, 2011

Rowing to Italy

Creative Writing Meets Caves, Vineyards, Cooking Lessons, and Locals

Giovanni's Vineyard

Giovanni's Vineyard

Last Spring, Maureen Moore – fellow writer in Main Street Writers workshops – went away for a couple of weeks.  She mentioned something about Italy, and promised to come back before too long.

She kept her promise, returning one sunny Tuesday morning to sit down and write a glowing and inspiring piece about Orvieto, Italy – a small city set atop a steep, high hill a few miles north of Rome.

Her Orvieto hosts Bill and Kristi Steiner blended creatve arts with things like Etruscan cave tours, wine tastings, vineyard visits, olive groves, Italian cooking lessons, and fellow travelers – in an experience that was rich and deep and generally beyond description.  Though Maureen did a pretty good job of describing it.  We were all sufficiently envious.

So I tracked down Bill and Kristi, had a long chat with them, and found we had a lot in common.  Like art and writing and travel.   So now we’ve put them all together in an adventure called  Pathways to Discovery,  a Creative Writing retreat in Orvieto,  September 23-29, 2012.  And now everyone I can reach through the wonder of technology has  the opportunity to meander along with us through new worlds, approach writing in new ways, and refresh both the heart and the palate.

How Many Miles to Italy?

Rowing to Italy is about the things I want to do between now and Orvieto.  Living in the present is important – I get that – there’s also something delicious about anticipating a journey: wondering what I might discover; ruminating about how and why this journey is important to me; learning something about the language and the landscape before I set out.

from here...................to here

Google tells me it is 4108 miles from Boston to Rome.    It also says the average person in the average rowboat goes about 3-5 mph .  So if I start rowing now – putting in  8 hours a day, weekends off – and if the weather is simply “neutral” (which it isn’t), I could tie up to the docks in Rome in just under 26 weeks – that ought to work.

Building the Boat

So where to begin…if this is going to be about writing and Italy, I ought to start with a simple, fool-proof, can’t-fail, everything’s-right kind of writing.   I’ll begin with a list: 16 reasons to write in Orvieto. And by keeping the window for writing really short – say, 5 minutes – there won’t be time to agonize over the right word, punctuation, or even the reasonableness of the reasons.  That makes everything easy.

If you’d like to try this, start with a topic – any topic…16 things I don’t want to do today, or 16 things I wonder about. Here’s the key to making it fly: write whatever comes to mind – truth and fiction.  Really.  If you get stuck, go to wishes, impossible realities, and flat-out lies. The list will take turns you hadn’t anticipated – and your imagination will thank you.  And, really, 16 is just a made-up number; two reasons or two hundred qualify as a list.

My list is posted here.  You can post your own in the comment box below – or send it to a friend, for the sheer satisfaction of sharing your world with someone who knows and understands.

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