“ Take only memories, leave only footprints.” – Chief Seattle.

An Evening with Maria

Maria, the apartment owner had been wanting to include me in a 'not' tourist event so when she was invited to a small gathering for a private concert, at the Museo Cassioli  in Asciano, then on to dinner at the host's country estate, she invited me as her guest.

Jackie had left at 6:00 a.m., and I was looking forward to spending the evening with Maria, driving over the countryside to Asciano, near Siena, and all the other events planned for the evening.

About 3:00 pm (15:00) a vicious, thunder, lightening, rain storm descended upon the region.  As the storm gained strength and got more fierce as the afternoon wore on, I was expecting to hear from Maria that we would not be able to drive there.  However, she arrived at 6:30 pm with a fortunate lull in the storm, as I have no rain gear with me.  

Shortly after we started to drive, the heavy rains picked up again, however, it was daylight and she could see the road, but while not able to anticipate downed tree branches, we made it safely and began the looking for a parking place saga. We found one, we found the museum and arrived in plenty of time to see the museum before the concert.


Maria wondered why I'd asked her to stand in front of this particular painting to take her photo. I said it wasn't for the men in the painting, it was that I like the room they were seated in and it's decor.

The hosts were the Principi Pignatelli and her husband, the former Italian ambassador to Guatemala. The concert featured a concert pianist from Guatemala.The selection of music and the evening is best explained in Maria's description of the evening.  


"Pleasant evening last night with Liz Birmingham in the Tuscan countryside, at the concert of composer Roberto Perez Chamane, Guatemalan of inca origin, who played music of South American composers, influenced by European culture, but with a prevalence of Indigenous culture: it was beautiful and strange music, sad and cheerful at the same time, popular and elegant.

I am very pleased to introduce liz to a particular part of Italian society, not known so much now, not tourist and stereotyped: the aristocracy, who is not at all the bloody and cowardly one who finds in history manuals of the last century but, especially in the centre and South Italy, they are ancient families, often keepers and managers of villas, palaces castles, park gardens, linked in a visceral way to the territory of belonging.

Hope it was a great experience!

It was Maria, it was!  Grazie mille.

Of all the times in my life I've wanted to pull out my phone and start clicking pictures! Except for the princess who took some photos, no one was taking out their phone for any reason.  I did sneak a couple later  outside at their country home, in the dark.

After the concert we wandered around the dark countryside for awhile looking for the estate.  We arrived just in time for a short drink before joining the 30 guests for a delicious buffet dinner.  After dinner we were again treated to a few more musical numbers by the pianist.  

The lane from the road to the house seemed like about a mile of cypress trees on either side.  Most appeared to have been planted about the time the house was built in the 1930's.  Almost every tree was the exact same height.

The hosts were very gracious.  The husband spoke very good English, as he'd attended college many years ago (I'm guessing in the late 1960's) at Oberlin in Ohio.  He told me their son was on vacation just then in San Francisco, but had also been to Utah and Colorado for the awe inspiring landscape.  I laughed that we all go to other countries for their lovely landscape. 

Me in front of the outdoor bar and perhaps casitas behind it.  Maria is walking along a path of lavender.


We left around midnight and were home by 1:00 a.m.  A good evening.