Friendships stand the test of time – forty years and counting
My dear friend Patty had an amazing experience recently. She went on a fabulous trip to Sansepolcro, Tuscany with her 1970s college roommates (Camille, Winkie, and Virginia). I’ve asked her to share her Italian adventure with you all.
Now, here’s Patty:
In 1973 we were Meredith College sophomores, suitemates on 2nd floor of Brewer dorm, and having the time of our lives sharing what would become life-long friendships. We had landed summer jobs as roommates: Camille and Winkie at Disney World, Virginia and Patty at Nags Head. Things could not get much better. Then it happened. Because majors at Meredith were limited at that time, the talk of transferring began to fill the suite. By the end of the year, only Patty would remain at Meredith for junior and senior years, graduating in 1975; Camille, Winkie and Virginia would continue their college education elsewhere.
After graduating from 3 separate colleges, and attending each other’s weddings, we found ourselves briefly connected again when our first children were born, all in 1982 (and two on the same day!) in four different states. Soon our separate lives became full of family, jobs, parenting, caring for aging parents, travels, and new friendships in our respective hometowns. Our connection as Meredith suitemates was primarily through greeting cards at Christmas and an occasional birthday card.
Then in 2007, when one of our daughters began to plan her wedding, we gathered again and quickly renewed our special bond of friendship. After 7 years and four more weddings we decided in the summer of 2014 to meet for a suite reunion – we traveled to Asheville, shared a house for 3 days, and felt almost like we were 20 years old again. We knew this was the first of many reunions to come.
Soon we heard about the Meredith Alumnae Tuscan Intensives cooking school. After a few texts, emails and phone calls, we made a decision within 24 hours that we all must go! We joined the group of 14 travelers for the “Art of Eating Well,” April 25-May 8, 2015, in Italy.
Our experiences in Meredith’s Italian home of Sansepolcro and surrounding Tuscan towns far exceeded our expectations in many ways. We four lived together in a large room with an adjacent living room, sharing the rest of the Palazzo Alberti with our fellow travelers. It was very reminiscent of dorm life at Meredith that we had cherished 40+ years before. Having the chance to live together, laugh, learn and experience new things together again was like a throw-back to college days.
Living together for nearly two weeks just blocks from Sansepolcro’s main piazza, we were charmed by its people, food, picturesque streets, and unhurried lifestyle. And how we loved every minute of our Tuscan cooking school experience! Being taught by two authentic Italian chefs, we learned techniques, ingredients and recipes to create real Tuscan dishes.
Additionally, we received fascinating instruction in Tuscan and Renaissance art that wove through our cooking lessons. During our two-day excursion to Florence we saw many of its masterpieces, providing a true immersion in Renaissance art. And traveling there allowed us to gain another experience the Meredith students enjoy. We took a local bus to Arezzo where we boarded a train for Florence. While trying to blend in, we all wished we could speak a little more Italian.
Life has taught us that while things change and distance separate us, strong friendships endure. We have found extra strength in the bonds created when we are “coming of age” during our time together at Meredith. Our long ago memories include sharing a small living space (and a telephone), sledding on cafeteria trays, participating in Cornhuskin’, enduring Freshman English, and being willing to try something new. Now we have added more memories such as making pasta with a 2-foot long rolling pin, seasoning a boar stew, exploring Florence and lovely Tuscan hill towns, and confirming that a daily gelato and cappuccino make everything better. And we have fallen in love with Sansepolcro. We are fortunate that Meredith College created a trip-of-a-lifetime for alumnae like us and it was the perfect way for us to enjoy being together again!
- Sansepolcro student experience from Meredith College
- Tuscan Intensives two-week programs from Meredith College
- Leon Battista Alberti biography from Greatest Visual Artists
- LA Times article on Sansepolcro and artist Piero della Francesca
- Piero della Francesca from Italian Renaissance Art
“Hello! I’m Patty Cease and I am a wife, mother of a grown daughter, and recently retired from the IT industry. I love the mountains, snow skiing, golf, cooking, traveling, and volunteering in my neighborhood. While I have lived only in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia, I have friends from many other places and am passionate about staying in touch with those who are important to me.”
Thanks so much, Patty, for sharing this inspiring story. It reminds me that staying connected to old friends can be a powerful, positive thing in life!
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