(October 14, 2015) Bill and Shelley Trowell are my friends from North Carolina, now also fellow part-time residents of Spello. We met nearly 5 years ago, when I was returning from grocery shopping and walking up the hill toward my home, and heard them speaking English. I introduced myself, and became their tour guide as we all walked uphill together—including me leaving my groceries outside Santa Maria Maggiore church to show them the frescoes and art inside the church. By the time we were at the top of Spello, with a stop for tea at my house, I think they both had decided that Spello was going to be the location of their retirement home abroad.
For the next two years, I helped them to search for a place to purchase here in Spello, along with help and input by my friends Leonardo and Paola. I accompanied them to many small apartments (and some larger ones) for sale here, translating the realtor’s descriptions and prices for them. For me, it was an adventure to get to see inside so much of Spello, and for them a genuine search for a place to make their own. Finally, in Spring 2015, they signed the deed and moved into their newly constructed apartment, one of nine created from the historic Palazzo Salmareggi in the center of historic old Spello. They had much furniture to find, and all of the details such as shower enclosures and a new kitchen to find and purchase, and were finally furnished enough and could move in.
Shelley and Bill invited me, Paola and Leonardo for dinner in their new home—with furniture that I had been a part of finding and purchasing (still needing some translation to communicate), and we got to see for the first time the home that they were creating. We all got tours of the house, and so much I recognized from our shopping trips. Two vendors from the Pissignano antiques market had become their friends, Marco and Francesco, even bringing furniture to them in Spello to try out. Another carpenter who finished and restored furniture here in Spello, Mauro, was a source of beds, their dining table and chairs, and armoires in the bedrooms. With a trip to IKEA and a rental van, the last of the minimum furniture needed was brought to the house, and they were able to live comfortably with the basics in place.
After the night of our dinner party, it was nearly time for the Trowells to leave Spello and return home. On the advice of friends here, they were headed across the valley to Montefalco, to a winery there that had some excellent new harvest olive oil. While the wines were notable, it was the quality of the olive oil that brought them to Montefalco and the Montioni cantina, where we tasted both the oils and some of their wines.
After purchasing olive oil packed in boxes to transport home, we headed into the historic center (“centro storico”) of Montefalco, up the steep street to L’Alchimista, a small restaurant with a very big reputation for excellence. We had lunch together, and soon were headed back out of Montefalco, and across the valley to Spello—but not without passing some of the fabulous fall color of the vineyards surrounding the roadway, still clinging to some of their vibrant yellow and red (merlot!) leaves.