Posted by: main street writers | June 17, 2011

The Tufa Absorbs You

The Slow Road to Italy

The road to Italy began, for me, three years ago. I was a partner in a local company, handling some part of everything and working overtime. I spent too little time with my family, too much time on my cell phone, and somehow eked out enough time to keep the writing workshops vital.

An accident took me off that train. I spent six weeks in a recliner, with a broken jaw – sipping protein shakes through a straw, googling everything I could think of on a laptop, and watching the sun move across the yard.  I had plenty of time to reflect, and enough pain to keep me from diving back into old routines.

Long Story Short…

The rest of the journey is a book unto itself.  The short version is: I thought long and hard about what I should and should not be doing.  I was pretty clear about the roads to not-take anymore – but the road to take was much more elusive.  The only compass I had was a deep desire to heal, to write, and to continue the writing workshops.  And to cook really good food.

It’s the Journey

Friends of Quabbin: Richard Johnson

So here I am, on the road to Italy.  Along the way I have discovered the Slow Travel movement; met Bill and Kristi Steiner; and co-developed a creative writing adventure in Orvieto. This spurred conversations with a workshop member, and led to the creation of Outdoor Voice: day-long retreats in local settings that are worlds away from the everyday. All in all, it’s a slower and richer journey.

Why am I going to Italy?  For me there is no other path.  By guessing and wondering and risking and trying and learning and trying again, I have come to a path that restores and challenges me. It offers new perspectives, new answers, and new opportunities.  I want to share this with others – and that’s how my road leads to Italy.

What Calls You to Orvieto?

I asked our host, Bill Steiner this question – he was quick to respond:

Giovanni shares his wisdom

“There is so much that calls us to Orvieto.  As we return for our 9th year, we are drawn by the relationships we have built with people in Orvieto.  This translates into more personal, insightful interactions – which in turn make it a more meaningful trip for everyone.

“Beyond that, Orvieto is a beautiful setting. The city’s physical character is embodied in its medieval streets and Renaissance Cathedral; it is flat and high up – set apart from the more modern world that sits at its base. The food is superb, they have fabulous wine, and their olive oil is fantastic. What’s not to like!!”

And Why Writing…?

Again, host Bill Steiner:

“We’ve always felt there is a certain contemplative nature about being in Italy – and particularly at the peaceful, quiet convent B&B in which we stay.

“We’ve enjoyed sharing this experience with others – and believe that writing, which is contemplative in nature, is equally inspiring and moving.  It deepens the experience for everyone.”

The Tufa Stays in the Soul

Further reflections from Bill:

“There is something about Italy that gets into your system, your psyche, your soul. Giovanna, at our B&B says, ‘the tufa absorbs you’ – tufa being the porous volcanic rock on which Orvieto sits.

“I agree. Slowly, imperceptibly, gently, deliciously one becomes a part of the place. There are few visitors who are not touched by the magic of Orvieto.

“We are just back, and as always, I am changed. The bottom line feeling of being absorbed by the tufa is that all is right with the world. Why? I think because Italy impels you to live life, to live it fully with passion and joy and gusto.”

Art, history, wine, community, market day, Etruscan caves, stunning works of art, nap time, olive groves – truly: what is not to love?


Experiment, Explore, Discover

Register Here for Pathways to Discovery




Settembre a Orvieto!




  1. […] <- It’s the Tufa                                                          More than Just Staring  -> […]

  2. […] previous posts about Orvieto, writing, and donkey-pace […]

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