A visit to the bed and breakfast “Casa La Pace” in Ghivizzano, Italy is more than just a vacation, it is a life changing adventure. Rusty and Pepper, have taken a circa 1740 home in the “new part” of the village and turned it into a magically amazing destination. Over spring break we and our 16 year old nephew took our first trip to this remote area in the mountains of Tuscany. Not only did Rusty and Pepper function as our hosts, but provided the services of tour guides, chauffeurs, history professors, travel agents and close friends. They both made the trip seamless and gave us a home away from home. They introduced us to their neighbors and the close friends in their lives as well as the characters that make the town so interesting. We were even greeted by the mayor of Ghivizzano when we arrived at Casa La Pace!
The countryside was of indescribable beauty. From our bedroom window we viewed the “old part” of town dating back to 923 A.D. Even though it was a cold, wet spring for this area, the mountains were breath taking and the scenery as a whole was magnificent.
One of the most impressive aspects of this small community was the residents. So happy and vibrant, these non-English speaking people treated us as long, lost friends. Frequently, we were invited upon introduction in for something to drink or eat. But what fascinated us the most was their love for the United States. The under 65 generation could tell us more about American TV shows, celebrities and movies than we knew and their ultimate dream often was to visit the U.S. The over 65 population had a different appreciation that was repeated many times. During WW II, this area was occupied by Germans and was liberated by U.S. troops. Many U.S. Buffalo Soldiers gave their lives in this endeavor. The residents’ appreciation for the sacrifice of U.S. lives for a country that was not their own was heartfelt, genuine and ran very deep. As one gentleman in his 80’s exclaimed “If it wasn’t for the US, there would be no Italy. If Italy called me to fight, I would say ‘No!’ If the US called me to fight, I would be on the front lines!”
The food in the area was fantastic. This community has embraced the concept of “Slow Food” which represents the opposite of fast food. All restaurants used fresh produce created by and bought from local producers. From vegetables and fruits, to breads, cheeses and meats, the flavors were remarkable and the pride in their products palpable. One sad aspect that we saw repeated was very few patrons in most of the restaurants. Italy’s economy has taken a major hit and small businesses are struggling much like the U.S.
As a part of our trip we did visit Florence and Pisa which held their own places of interest. But by far, experiencing the small town life in this quiet, out of the way community with good friends was the best escape we could have asked for. We encourage everyone who is able to make a trip to Casa La Pace which means “House of Peace”. We promise that it will be a trip of a life time.