It’s day two of your week of inspiration: We had such an amazing turn out for our inspirational travel series that we couldn’t wait any longer to share everyone’s stories. This one is truly an inspiration the message is, you can do whatever you want at any age. So if you are suffering from the winter blues, this story will definitely give you the pick me up you need.
I Celebrated my 50th Birthday in Chianti by Christine Cottrell
Determined to celebrate my special birthday in grand style, I scoured books and brochures for the perfect place. Tutti a Tavola, a cooking school and somewhere to stay in a remote part of the Chianti Hills in Tuscany was an easy decision. A phone call later, our travel plans were under way.
Tutti a Tavola is run by an extraordinary group of Italian women – mammas, they say, who love to cook. Instantly, I felt at home as my celebration started to unfold in a place of unimaginable beauty – where old farmhouses have been lovingly restored to special places for enjoyment and sharing.
With responsibilities and deadlines far away on the other side of the globe, I am easily immersed in the sensual experiences of Tuscan living – the colourful markets, the cooking aromas, the long, luxurious conversations. There are roses to pick, pasta to prepare, neighbours to meet, basil to pluck, risotto to stir, tables to set, tiramisu to construct, linen to lay. The mysteries of artichokes and zucchini flowers are solved, the best recipe for limoncello debated, the world’s problems solved …..
For two weeks, over the routine of daily life, I learn about the lives of the mammas who love to cook. They have all retired from professional careers – to share the traditions of Tuscan cooking with guests and prepare beautiful, homely places for them to stay. Their husbands, professionals in past lives too, are tending vineyards and olive groves. There are weeds to pull, vines to tie, trees to prune, grappa to enjoy, fruit to pick, animals to feed, plots to plant. The weather forecast is discussed, the best way to prune olives debated, the quality of the vintage anticipated …..
Mimma, Franca, Lele and their husbands are now our friends; we visit them and they visit us. Although you can count on your hands the number of times we have connected geographically, strong friendships based on mutual interests have been forged – and through them, I’ve learnt to reconnect with the simple things I instinctively love to do.
I find time to prepare pasta and risotto from scratch, I make a ritual of plucking basil leaves over conversation with a friend, I sometimes lay my table with beautiful linen even when I’m busy, I invite friends and family to share our meals more often, I make an effort to eat what’s in season, I savour the smell of the rosemary and oregano that grow in my garden …..
Most importantly, I have learnt that you can choose to do whatever you want – regardless of what age you are. Mimma, Franca and Lele are women in their seventies who are a true inspiration to anyone who has a 50th birthday on the horizon. They are testimony to the fact that you can start a new ‘career’ – of doing what you love to do, at any stage of your life.
All it takes is to follow your passion and connect with your inspiration.
At a time when teaching colleagues were talking about retirement, I set out to pursue my interest in writing. And I started a business – perfectespresso.com.au. What was once a little idea has grown into a series of published books and training resources on espresso coffee – using the wealth of skill and knowledge accumulated in over two decades of my career.
My husband and I now travel the globe exhibiting at trade shows, researching coffee trends and connecting with the coffee community on every continent. We visit farms and factories, museums and cafes, sample the finest coffees made by the best baristas and wander the world in search of interesting people and places to write about.
Like the inspirational women who love to cook, my lifestyle has become my work. I am doing what I love to do. Oh, and ‘tutti a tavola’ is what Italian mammas say when dinner is about to be served – calling ‘everyone to the table’.
You can do this too!
CHRISTINE COTTRELL: author of the Perfect Espresso series
With more than 20 years of experience in teaching and working in the Australian hospitality industry, Christine decided to do something different.Driven by a passion for coffee and a search for the truth about espresso, Christine connects with baristas and coffee enthusiasts around the world – strengthening her skills, knowledge and research – to become the ultimate authority on everything about espresso coffee.
My BLOG at ChristineCottrell.com
This is an ongoing series of Inspirational travel. If you have an experience in travel that changed your life, made you look at the world differently or an amazing moment that you want to share, please contact us for more details and we will email you right back.. You can also read more about submitting an article to this series at Calling All Writers, Share your Inspirational Travel StoryRead More Inspirational Stories
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