Has another year flown by already? It seems like only last week I was writing about 2012.
As we hoped, each year has been better than the year before. Casa La Pace in 2013 welcomed more guests, there were more nights with all rooms booked, and more nights with at least one room occupied. As ever, we are thrilled to welcome new people from around the globe.
2013 for Casa La Pace could be subtitled ‘The Year of the Australians.” Until this year, we’d seen mostly Americans and a smattering of Europeans. In March, our first Australian guests arrived, two wonderful couples from Queensland. They were kind, funny, and all-around great guests. We felt so lucky that they found Casa La Pace. We never imagined that they would be the first of a wave of Aussies we hosted this year. Our final count for 2013 is 17 Aussies – each and every one delightful.
In addition to Australia and the U.S., we had guests from Great Britain, Poland, Hungary, Denmark, Singapore, and Dubai. (I have probably forgotten a few). Meeting people from other countries is one of the most interesting aspects of running a B&B. We’re ‘tied down’ and can’t travel most of the year. But as we hear the stories of the lives of our guests, I can travel to their home in my mind.
This year we welcomed our first visitor from my hometown. Rita and her husband Jim, along with their nephew, came to stay with us early in 2013. I left Blountstown in 1983 and have returned for only a couple of brief visits. During her time at Casa La Pace, Rita and I reminisced about high school and she updated me on significant events in her life in the past 30 years. I was glad to learn that she and Jim are happy and healthy and active in their community.
In 2013, we had several returning guests. We love the good reviews on Trip Advisor. But a guest who wants to return to Casa La Pace says much more to us than words of praise. It confirms that Casa La Pace is a welcoming place and that our efforts are appreciated. We have promises from several people of their return to Casa La Pace in 2014.
Our final guest of this year was also our very first guest. In 2010, Becca brought along her friend Kate; they arrived about 10 days after Pepper and I moved from the U.S. to Ghivizzano. The renovations to the house were (mostly) complete. But the walls were unpainted, we had almost no furniture, and we had no heating system. Shortly before their arrival, I rushed to Lucca and bought two twin mattress. Becca and Kate slept in the Nelida room on the mattresses on the floor. Fortunately, it was a hot week in mid-summer, so they didn’t complain too much about the cold showers.
This December, Becca brought her husband Andras. They slept in comfort in the Victoria room. They stayed with us for 4 days. And though it was cold outside, the happy couple took hot showers and were toasty and warm. It was exciting for Becca to see how far we’ve come in 4 years.
We continue to make improvements to the house, as time and our budget allows. Solar panels went onto the roof in April; they were finally approved and linked to the power grid in July (thank you, Italian bureaucracy). We also installed air conditioning /heating units in each guest bedroom. The summer of 2013 was mild and the air conditioning was hardly needed. But we’re ready now for future heat waves.
Though we had more guests and fewer free days, we still managed to travel a couple of times this year. In February, we celebrated my 50th birthday in the Canary Islands. And during August, we escaped the heat by journeying to the Isle of Wight, off the southern coast of England. In both cases, we stayed at B&Bs when possible. We got to know the owners at a couple of them and wish we could return every year to see them.
During our free time, we tried to spend time with our friends, old and new, here in Ghivizzano. We remain close with Ramona, Grazia, Rossano, and Ester. We visit Alessandro and Marinella and Samanta and Albano often. We’ve added to our circle of friends Antonella and her husband Dean, who was born in the U.S. and is a perfect English speaker – and bakes wonderful bread in his pizza oven. We met Andrea and Elisabetta at Alessandro and Marinella’s and we hope to see them much more in 2014. We are grateful that our friends welcome us into their homes and seem to enjoy meeting guests of Casa La Pace when we bring them along. Alessandro and Dean speak English, but language seems to be no problem over a glass of wine or limoncello.
Pepper and I are grateful to everyone who came to stay at Casa La Pace in 2013. We already have many reservations for 2014 and we couldn’t be happier.