San Gusmé is a tiny village in the Tuscany Region of Italy. It is surrounded by a wall and a few arched entrances and has a population of one hundred or so residents. There is a closed restaurant, a coffee shop, a Post Office and an ATM and, outside the exterior wall, there is a gravel parking lot for residents. Lush greenery and vineyards spread out from the wall as far as the eye can see.
We approached the village by car, a bit later than planned, but just in time for the stunning sunset. Our Air B&B Host, Elvita, a 15-year resident of San Gusmé , waving at us with a big smile as we entered the parking lot. The warmth of her welcome stopped me in my tracks and my spirit filled with a deep peace. It was a defining
moment of being.
We settled into our room and then walked the full length of the village within 30 minutes. The tall, ancient buildings of large stones and terracotta roofs seemed so permanent; the stone streets smooth and solid, somehow comforting.
An elderly lady leaning out her upstairs window above us, smoking--when our eyes met, she smiled and said, ” Caio” as if to hide her cigarette. We round a corner and a younger woman hanging her laundry on the clothes line out the window smiles at us too. I take pictures at every corner and some twice, somehow thinking I can capture this moment with a picture. A television is playing in the distance, but with the acoustics on these narrow paths, it’s impossible to know where the silent sounds are coming from.
Later, after dinner in a small town a few miles away, I decided to walk the village again at night. It was truly an incredible experience, walking the ancient streets and capturing it on video, as a solid knowing came within — I wasn’t alone.
I understood too that some residents were watching me from shadowed porches. I’m the stranger here. It’s not my space. It belongs to others. I am always respectful of others space…no wish to disturb anyone, just some quiet walking in the dark, mysterious streets built so long ago.
I notice as I walk that some residents leave their wooden windows open at night; no screens, just a darkened view into their home space. When I return to my room, I too open those windows and sit beside them while sipping wine.
This place, this space cannot be described or captured in a photograph or video. It’s nearly the perfect set for a twilight zone episode. I want to return here soon, to settle deeply in for awhile and see how that feels. Out of my month’s worth of travels across Europe, this is the place. This is the place my spirit needs to return. After all, it’s a regression, a skip backward in time from the technology
driven days into the quiet past of simple stonework and township, quiet spaces, open windows, and neighbors smiling down from the upper rooms… who doesn’t want a little of that! Yes, San Gusmé!
Live your best life now! ~Jim