2. Our First Night

Here we are!

Picked up at the bus stop by Marco, a graduate student in economics and the nephew of the project leader, Tonio. We were shown to our room on the top floor of a gorgeous 16th-century palazzo, which, miraculously had its own bathroom and AC. So I’m all set.

We arrived a little too late for the introductions, but from what I could gather, most of the others were involved in art history or art preservation work in some way, although we also have a biotech researcher from Seattle and an executive at David’s Bridal, who lives in Fishtown, Philly. I am easily the oldest; the youngest is a very bright 11-year-old girl, whose mother wants her to experience foreign travel in a deeper way. We had an amazing dinner, mostly of beautiful local cheeses and grilled vegetables, sitting at one long candle-lit table. Of course, all the Americans, like me, were taking photos of the food.

We will be in good hands with Tonio, an archeologist and preservationist who has devoted his life to this work with his wife, Jennifer, a Canadian former actress and set designer; August, their 9-year-old son; and another archeologist whose name I don’t recall (so many names!!!), who made a hugely important discovery of a 150,000 year old Neanderthal skeleton in a cave nearby.

Bonus — we can help in the kitchen and learn to cook local specialties, and there’s an Italian lesson in the evening.

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