Truth can indeed be stranger than fiction

This story has several beginnings, or perhaps it is several stories interwoven, or perhaps it is one story, but it started four years ago and is more amazing today than I could have ever imagined. It went from Dallas, Texas, to a Calico Corners fabric store in Palo Alto, California, to a kitchen in Coppell, Texas, then into storage for 3 years, then back to a living room in Coppell. While packed away, it was magically interwoven through time and space by literary transport, and established a connection that continues today in Cortona and Arezzo, Italy. It is a story of magic, of relationship, and of miracle! It is a real life version of Julie and Julia, and today I witnessed it with my own eyes. Four years ago Nancy and I were traveling in northern California and stopped into a Calico Corners fabric store near Stanford University. She found some fabric that she then used to make window treatments for our “Italian style” kitchen, which we were redoing with granite and faux Tuscan wall paint. We had never been to Tuscany, but we admired the style and wanted to enjoy it every day. Being an excellent seamstress, Nancy accented the windows with the rich burgundy and gold fabric she had brought home from California, and the cornice looked terrific over the redone kitchen windows. About a year later, when we sold our home, she salvaged the fabric and took it with us, hoping to use it again someday… The magic threads of this story began to weave a tapestry that is far more interesting a tale than I could create.
A little over a year ago, we were sitting in Bill and Cindi’s living room talking about traveling to Italy. Cindi had been wanting to get a group to go to Tuscany, and had found out that the Villa Laura (used in the movie to represent Bramasole from Frances Mayes’s book in the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”) was available to rent if we could get a group to go. We joined in enthusiastically, and Cindi made the arrangements. For a year Nancy and I were saving, planning, and thinking about our trip to Cortona. Nancy began researching Cortona and the places we would visit on our amazing journey to Italy. During that time we purchased a fixer upper home, and again redid the kitchen, which again received new granite counters, travertine backsplash, and faux paint. Nancy went into the attic and retrieved the fabric she had used in our previous home. This fabric, I would discover, would connect far more than our two do-it-yourself kitchen remodels. It would span oceans and continents, time and space: and I’m not making this up!
While researching Cortona, Nancy read Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun to learn the REAL story about where we would be staying. We learned that the Villa Laura was the home used in the movie, but not the actual Bramasole villa. It was still beautiful, and we were still able to anticipate being where Diane Lane got her groove back in the movie, so it was all good. Near the end of Frances Mayes’ remarkable story, she mentioned that she had used fabric from her home in the states to make window treatments in Cortona. She had bought the fabric at the Calico Corners in Palo Alto, California, had salvaged it from the home she left, and used it in her home in Italy.
At the same time she was finishing “Under the Tuscan Sun”, Nancy happened to be making the treatments for our “new” kitchen, doing exactly the same thing in Texas that Frances Mayes had described in her book. It was utterly serendipitous, and she couldn’t help but reflect on it as she sat in our kitchen, sewing her window treatments. Nancy said, “I felt such a connection with Frances Mayes at that moment, making my window treatments with fabric from exactly the same store, and it made our upcoming trip to Italy come alive!” the connection was deep and sympathetic. Nancy continued to read everything Frances had written, and we both grew more and more excited about Tuscany. Like many fans, Nancy sent Ms Mayes a Facebook friend request and received a confirmation. I think the Mayes even mentioned on their page that they would be traveling to Cortona in May– so we were intrigued that we would be in Italy at the same time. Wow, small world!
Little did we know… After some time in Rome, our travel itinerary today took us to Arezzo, where they hold an open air antique market once a month. Undeterred by rain, we walked the market and bought several keepsakes. Crowds were light because of the weather, and we shopped and looked around some more. I had to sort of squeeze by a tall, silver haired man with an umbrella, and he politely let me slip by him underneath it. His companion, who I did not really notice, was browsing at the table beside us. Then Nancy grabbed my arm. “Bo, I think that’s her!”. I’m a little slow. “Who?” “Frances Mayes and Ed!”
“Well, go meet her!” I said. “No, Nancy said, I don’t want to bother her.” “Nonsense, she’ll appreciate it.” We approached Ed and Frances, who were as nice as could be, and Nancy got to share with the author how meaningful her books had been in preparing for our trip of a lifetime, while I said something inane to Ed about our being do-it-yourselfers too. We spent a couple of pleasant moments there, standing in the rain in downtown Arezzo, somewhat overwhelmed with the unlikeliness of it all. The threads of the tapestry, woven in San Francisco, Coppell, Cortona, and Arezzo had come together: picture street booths, rainy cobblestone streets, umbrellas, and four people meeting impossibly at that moment at that Italian intersection… As we parted, the Mayes said, “See you on the Piazza!”, and there, 5200 miles from our kitchen window treatments, which which had traveled from Calico Corners in Palo Alto to Texas, we met the woman whose window treatments traveled from Calico Corners in Palo Alto to Cortona. It just took a trip to Arezzo to connect all the threads of the tapestry, woven across time, space, and possibility.

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