A Room With a View

The 1986 Merchant/Ivory film adaptation of E.M. Forester’s 1908 novel remains to this day, one of my favorite romantic movies. The room the title refers to is in Florence, Italy overlooking the Arno River. 

In the spring of 1998, Jim and I visited the south of France, Monaco and a heavenly slice of Italy that included Florence and the surrounding medieval hill towns. We’d been dating for a year and a half.
In Tuscany we feasted on wild boar, porcini mushrooms and all of the “B” wines. Brunello. Barberesco. Barolo. We toured Florence in a horse drawn carriage and walked across the Arno River on the city’s oldest bridge, the Ponte Vecchio. Although there have been shops on this bridge since the thirteenth century, since 1593 only goldsmiths and jewelers have been allowed to ply their trade there. In a tiny shop on the Ponte Vecchio, Jim bought me a beautiful souvenir. A gold ring set with a sapphire and four small diamonds. A ring I have worn every day since.
Not long after this dreamy vacation I discovered at the ripe old age of thirty-six that I had breast cancer. A year later, after surgery, chemo, and radiation treatments, Jim and I got married in the Napa Valley with a weekend-long celebration of “life, love and gluttony” as our rather unusual wedding invites declared.
In one way or another cancer has been part of our lives for a long time. Imagine the courage of a man who asks a bald-headed lady to be his bride? That’s Jim. Now that Jim is in the cancer hot seat, that courage and tensile strength is more apparent to me than ever.
Recently, our neighbors Buzz and Pat invited us to meet Buzz’s brother, the artist William Berra. Their home is filled with Bill Berra’s sublime, luminous paintings. While he has painted landscapes and figurative subjects throughout the world, Italy remains one of his favorite places to paint.
Today, we accepted the temporary loan of one of Bill Berra’s paintings. We’ve set up a special nest in the guest room for Jim to recover from surgery. From the bed where he has been snoozing he now has a magnificent Berra painting of the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio. 
Thank you, Buzz Berra, Pat Newport and of course, the artist William Berra, for Jim’s new room with a view.  



20 thoughts on “A Room With a View

  1. Thank you for that story, Lee. You both sure can write! I am grateful to Tom Conrad for telling me about you and inviting our friendship and mutual support. It’s clear to me that there is a ton of that all around you. Go get it, now!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. John,

      We are both so grateful you have come into our lives. We all owe Tom Conrad one! The author Richard Bach said “Rarely do member of one family grow up under the same roof.” Thanks for being along with us on Mr. Toad’s wild colon cancer ride.


      Sent from my iPad



  2. Thanks for sharing your love story with us — what a beautiful life you guys have made together! We have a picture of Ponte Vecchio hanging in our kitchen. I had the best ravioli quattro formaggi in the world right near that bridge. Love your glass-half-full outlook — may the glass always be half full of great Italian wines. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The legacy of half full on the Ponte Vecchio. A wonderful tale of the “Ring” Wine & Love above the Arno River as Lee & Jim define their love. A William Berra
    painting to awake & sleep as you dream your way through the magic you both are. Enjoy.


  4. What a neat story, well, not the cancer part, but the rest. Enjoy your “view”. Get more rest, both of you! You only had surgery a week ago. Take it easy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You two always make me have emotion when i read your beautiful pictures with words. This morning I cried. The smells, sights and love…… it is all there. What a beautiful setting for a picture. Jim enjoy this eye candy. Hugs to you both. Two of my favorite people. Earline

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dry your tears, sweet girl. We know you are with us on this journey. Hope your remodel/move is going well. Hugs back at ya!


  6. Beautiful story, painting and photo. Maybe soon you can view that beauty with a good glass of Italian vino. That might calm the “cranky gut”. Rest and take it one sip -oops -step at a time.😁😂. Prayers flowing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Instead of feasting your taste buds, you can feast your eyes and all the lovely memories that come with viewing Bill’s painting. Your history together is so rich and will feed you forever.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jim & Lee,

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful story. Florence, Italy has a special place in my heart as about 15 years ago my daughter took me to Rome & we had a private train trip through the hillsides to Florence for the day. It was there I got 3 (not just one but 3) leather purses. I never purchased 3 at a time not even in Mexico. It was a special time for me & today I’m reading a romantic novel about the same region.

    Have a beautiful day with wonderful memories & many more to come your way.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Don. Jim is on the mend. It will just take time. Now if I could just get him to shave off that god-awful thing he calls a beard…



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