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Our village in Italy is called Lubriano. It is a "pass by" village. Tourists traveling to the famous hill-top town of Civita di Bagnoregio (called the "Dying Town" as it is collapsing into the Calanchi Valley below) stop at the edge of our village to gaze across towards their stunning destination no more than one mile away.  Truth is, this medieval wonder of a town is also our view.

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Tuscany, with its distinctive food and wine, gregarious people, ancient landscape and history forged by fact and fable, is a compelling attraction. And while package tours largely eliminate apprehension, they don’t necessarily ensure intimate connection with the culture. After a time, a bus window can become the frame in which the still life of the land is viewed with diminishing passion, and a day here or there soon dissolves into a week of misted memories. Inherent in routine is the danger of detachment.

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I have a fairly haphazard approach to traveling: I like to drop myself in the middle of some locale with no plan as to what I'm going to do – and occasionally no viable way of getting out – just to see what happens. I tell myself that this is a good way to test my mettle. If I can make it out of some of these scrapes alive, the argument goes, then I must be a tough one indeed. The truth is, I’m probably just a bit lazy and can’t be bothered with stuff like arranging accommodations before I arrive in a place, or finding transport more than a day or two in advance.

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