Small town north of Rome is worlds away

 This was first published Feb. 21, 2010, in my Boston Globe column “Where they Went.” Hmmm, I wonder if they returned this year?

Karen Lynch and her sons Owen (left) and Henry on the road to Civita di Bagnoregio

WHO: Karen, 46, and Fred Lynch, 48, and their sons Henry, 14, and Owen, 12, of Winchester, Mass.

WHERE: Viterbo, Italy.

WHEN: Month of July.

WHY: For Fred Lynch, a professor of illustration at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Mass., to teach in the school’s study-abroad program.

THAT ‘IN’ FEELING: Last summer was the third the family has spent July in Viterbo, a small city about 80 miles north of Rome, and they hope to keep returning. “The first two times we were in an apartment just outside the city, but this time we were inside the walls,’’ Karen Lynch said of the historic center, which is surrounded by medieval walls. “It was louder, but very fun.’’

Karen and Fred Lynch in Sorano, Italy

IT’S UNDERSTANDABLE: “It’s a big adventure for all of us,’’ she said. Everyone in the family speaks some Italian. “Henry is like a dictionary. He’s not that talkative. I am, but my vocabulary isn’t great, so with the two of us together, we do pretty well. Owen loves to go to classes with Fred, so usually Henry and I go off exploring during the day.’’

TOOK ITS TOLL: “I always rent a car,’’ said Lynch, mentioning she had recently received a $50 ticket through the rental company, several months after the trip. “I think it was when the toll booth ate my card to pay. The gates went down in the front and back of the car. I pushed a button and someone spoke back to me, but I don’t know what they said.’’ They let her go, but apparently not without consequences.

Henry and Owen at the Door of Hell in the Park of the Monsters in Bomarzo

FAMILY FEAST: Each summer they accept an invitation to visit several generations of a local family at their summer house in Tarquinia, a coastal town to the west. “We get there at noon and first spend time at the beach. It’s hotel after hotel, with a sea of umbrellas. Then it’s time to eat: salad, pasta, pork, chicken, vegetables, then fruit. All with wine, of course. We eat for like five hours, a little at a time.’’ In Italy, Lynch continues her usual exercise regime. “I look terribly American when I’m running because no one there runs.’’

LAUNDRY LESSONS: Mastering the Italian washing machine has been challenging. “It’s so complicated that you’re glad there’s no dryer. Once the cycle went for 17 hours. The one we had this last time took maybe two or three hours.’’

Owen (left), Fred, Karen and Henry at a Viterbo restaurant on Owen's 12th birthday

BROUGHT TO HEEL: The evening stroll, or “passeggiata,’’ is her favorite part of the day. “Everyone goes out for a walk, to look in shop windows, have an ice cream. If you’re a woman, you wear your most uncomfortable shoes. I do wear heels, but I can only manage the chunky ones on the cobblestone. All the Italian women are in high-heel strappy sandals. How do they do it?’’

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One Response to “Small town north of Rome is worlds away”

  1. Charlotte Richardson Says:

    LOVE this story!

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