As business travelers, we’re no longer tourists. Creating a small network of places where we can do business and feel at home is the ultimate. And anyone can do it.
Responsive. We begin at Villa San Michele, a charming hotel where repeat guests are valued. Savvy receptionist Chiara recently solved a complex problem with insight, grace, and nuanced Italian. My Italian is wide but shallow, so her help was invaluable.
Sip and savor. After work, there’s always an excellent tagliatelle bolognese or pici cacio e pepe available at the hotel’s Antica Torre restaurant. We don’t dine-in every night, but have enjoyed meals often enough to crave whatever amazing fare the chef is creating.
Take a walk. It’s wonderful to exchange ideas in the moist air of a verdant hilltop town. Park your car and leave it. Remove your belongings and forget the autostrada. Stroll through the dreamy rustic scenery and take your time – you’re “home.”
Look down. Delight in natural and man-made details like this pale angel at the base of a stone wall — smooth winged serenity against gritty rock.
Look up. In Rome, we rarely miss the sunset drama of tiny starlings, i storni, swooping and diving in the evening sky. The aerial ballet is abundant and free at our Campo de Fiori home-away.Become familiar. We’d love a third round, but Bar La Rocca is closing. “No problem,” says congenial Rosanna. “Stay, have another. When you’re done, put your wineglasses in the planter, I’ll find them tomorrow.” We do and she does.
Relationships. Repeat-renting reduces the stress of finding the corkscrew, figuring out electrical and WiFi (Italian systems are fussy), locating the groceria, farmacia, or street market. You know there will be towels, and where they are. Trust happens.
Appreciation. Find a responsive landlord with a sense of humor. When I broke the toilet within five minutes at Ugo’s in Milan, he was there in immediately with superglue and a smile. When I blew all the fuses at Barrie’s, he talked me through it – at midnight.
Make it yours. Minimize inconvenience by becoming familiar, inside and out. Bond with something or someone new at each visit. Learn a new word or phrase. Delight in rituals — Sunday pastries, a walk along the lake, or a big, fresh lasagna with scamorza and basil.
Lean in. This plaque hangs on a wall in Menaggio, Como. As charming as it is, I prefer, “Wherever you go, there you are.” •
I recognize that pink backpack