In this first of a new blog series , we
posed the question: Can you think of one positive way in which 2020 has changed
your vision of life? Sheryl and Rob Turping, Cortona residents, share their
thoughts and reflections on the past year.
are Americans who have lived in Cortona, full time, for over 20 years having
chosen this community to be our retirement home (at the age of 55) after many
years of expatriate living.
It was not a hard decision to make all
those years ago.
Already knowing Italy well, we were swayed by the country’s beauty,
history and elegance (we met going to a Junior year abroad program in Florence 1967-1968)
and the welcoming of its people, particularly in Cortona, which has hosted
tourists for 3,000 years starting with the Etruscans …not to mention its food
2019 we put our second home up for sale, (our first property here we sold in
2012) because we wanted to do another project. We are house people and we had
already decided that we had one more restoration in Italy before our long term
plan to return to Seattle, and then to split our time between Cortona and
No matter where
we are in the world we always return to Seattle to various homes for a few
weeks a year. As usual we returned to Seattle in February of this year in order
to check on our house there, renters, accountants, friends etc
We planned to extend our stay into March because we didn’t get
everything done but as news of what we now call Covid 19 became apparent, we
didn’t want to be ‘stuck’ in the US.
So we arrived in Rome on March 2. Italy went into lock down on March
No matter where we are, Covid has forced us all to step
outside of ‘normal’ life. 88 days of very restricted lock down in Italy caused
us to pause. We thought after all these years in Italy that we understood
‘living in the moment.’ But we learned we didn’t understand it at all.
In the Spring/Summer of 2020 we were very confident that our house
would sell thanks to Cortona International. You could sense whether American,
English, German, Dutch or Italian no one wanted to go through another pandemic
and be trapped in a small apartment or big city without space, especially
outdoors. And Covid taught people that one should not wait to fulfill one’s
dreams. That life is uncertain.
Our American buyer and we, with Cortona International, reached an
agreement in an afternoon and closed within a month. But, of course, we still
had to deal with the roller coaster ride of Covid restrictions. Sally, the
buyer, wanted to harvest our olives with us and, as part of the contract we
agreed to have her come to stay in our home….well legally it was really
hers!…for a week and then return when we moved out in the first part of
But Covid continued to manage our lives and she soon wrote and asked
if she could come for the olive harvest and stay, along with her Dutch friend
and dog (she was in Amsterdam at the time) and there was discussion about
closing borders in Europe.
October 11th, with a car packed with
everything she could fit in, they arrived and we suddenly became a family of
five. It was the best harvest we have ever had! The olives were perfectly ready and the fun we had, along
with another friend, was joyful. Five ‘strangers’ (includes her dog Boo) were brought together by a deadly
virus. And for many moments we forgot about the world around us in the beauty
of this wonderful paradise.
a week her Dutch friend returned home and we four shared a communal life. With
no where to go given we were under serious restrictions, we got to know each
other…not as buyer/ seller but as friends. We cooked, we talked into the night,
we discovered we had many mutual friends in common….six degrees…is real! The
fact that she is a fabulous cook and took over the kitchen was an extra bonus except for the 5 pounds we
we moved out on November 2 it was with sadness…not for the house but leaving
Sally and Boo.
So Covid came with unexpected blessings for us…..the sale of our
house in the midst of a pandemic, a new friend, and for the first time, at 73
years of age, we understood what it is to live in the moment.