This is the story of Ellen Sutherland, a US-citizen who came to Tuscany when she was very young, and fell under its spell.
I love Tuscany not only for her unparalleled beauty, but also because it hosts an amazing variety of humanity. Through centuries, it has attracted all sorts of travellers, artists and creative minds. After World War II, it has opened up to farmers who flocked in, helped by a law that guaranteed advantages for those who were willing to take up fields and continuing the rich agricultural tradition that had marked the region for centuries. In more recent times, it was flooded with German and English whose strong currency allowed them to buy those lovely rural properties that have filled lots of books and movies with romantic and so much longed for scenarios. And even more closely in time, Tuscany has welcomed many immigrants from less favoured countries, giving them work and integrating them in its cities and social routines.
Tuscany today is a highly varied region, hosting lots of human stories, initiatives, and endeavours. It is a mosaic of different nationalities and cultures that have melted together on the background of an amazingly richness of landscapes, traditions and gastronomic solidity.
Ellen Sutherland is one of those persons that fell under the Tuscany spell. Her love story with Tuscany is interesting because it dates back to a time when the big flux of foreign buyers had not arrived yet. It was 1973 when Ellen embarked on a trip to Italy with a friend. Times were, of course, different. No cell phones, no Internet, no fast trains… Ellen started her Italian trip in the north, and when she arrived in Tuscany, she left a piece of her heart there – in many ways, including falling in love with a Tuscan man.
She continued her trip, and when she arrived in Sicily, she collected her mail (at that time you gave the address of a post office somewhere on your itinerary) and realized that Lufthansa had accepted her as an air hostess. She was torn between the idea of starting an exciting new job and the desire to stay in Italy, and eventually decided to go back to her native Houston, set things straight with the boyfriend she had left behind, and take some time to reflect on her next move while starting the new job.
Thanks to that experience, Ellen today speaks perfect German. Adding perfect Italian, her native English, and French, she is able to provide her guests at the beautiful Boccadalma B&B a warm welcome in many ways. Yes, because the story of Ellen with Tuscany resumed when she decided to go back and stay with the man she had fallen in love with. He was the owner of a beautiful camping place that still exists (Punta Ala Camping) and is today managed by Ellen’s son.
Ellen decided to open the B&B after her husband’s death, using a part of the house where she lives, and turning it into a warm and cosy space with four nice bedrooms and a lovely common kitchen. The house is surrounded by olives and has an amazing view of the beautiful surroundings.
Ellen knows Tuscany inside out by now. With her new partner, she tours by motorbike and keeps on discovering new places, restaurants, little villages and hidden corners, which she always shares with her guests. She knows Tuscany’s winds, weather patterns, people, culture, idiosyncrasies and best restaurants.
During my stay at Boccadalma with a friend, she gave us lots of useful tips to make the best of our three-days in that beautiful part of Tuscany between Follonica and Castiglione della Pescaia. I was already excited to be able to spend a few days at the seaside with a dear friend. When I discovered that Boccadalma was managed by an expat, I felt even happier. After listening to Ellen’s story, I told her I would share it on Expatclic. Here it goes.
Boccadalma website: https://www.boccadalma.com/
Claudia Landini (Claudiaexpat)
Photo Credit ©Claudiaexpat except the photo of Ellen, which is her propriety