Don't judge a book....

Don't judge a book....

This trip, I thought, would be the stuff of Nora Ephron movies: seven accomplished and opinionated women, thrown together in close quarters for a week, one husband (mine) as driver and general bon vivant. Layer on the rigors (and stressors) of travel, and well, you get the picture. In fact, you might have seen it on your Instagram.

Beyond the Romance

My guests and I may be the travelers, but these folks are on the real journey. And while we're seduced by the romance of these old-world, artisan-centric stories, beneath the surface, there's an underlying reality that is bone-crushingly difficult.

Hunting Truffles and Finding Friends

We found ourselves at a dead end, sandwiched between a small railway station and a one-story row of rose-colored buildings reminiscent of a too-cheery suburban shopping mall. A man lounged outside one of the doors that lined its flank, his camo pants a stark contrast to the fiery red of his Fiat Uno, calmly having a smoke, watching the show.