My journey with Tuscan Women Cook approaches. I find my way back to paradise via Norwegian Air, an unlikely carrier to offer a non-stop option to Rome. I am excited (and a bit relieved) to enter a new comfy plane bathed in lighting I am told by a flight attendant, that is programmed to offset jet lag. Who knew this was possible? Fingers crossed this lighting will help me disembark with the energy I need to head north by train to Tuscany. It’s going to be a total of almost 20 hours of travel but my adrenaline is pumping and I know that my glorious Tuscan destination is worth every minute of this journey.

Lots of honeymooners (at least 6 couples!) board with me. One couple has luggage tags on their backpacks that read “Mr.” and “Mrs.” Another announces to anyone listening that they are headed off for the honeymoon of her dreams. Here’s hoping the groom feels the same! These happy couples set a jovial mood in flight and I’m fortunate to be seated next to one set of honeymooners who cuddle up shortly after take-up. Their clingy embrace offers me bonus room (including the arm rest) so yay for new love! Thankfully a long, deep sleep knocks a half-dozen hours off my 12-hour flight. We land and I am raring to go.

This is my third solo trek to Italy and I find myself feeling more at ease with navigating my way through customs, trains and assorted travel navigation. When I feel my heart tug for a travel companion, I remind myself of all the benefits of solo travel. Every decision I make, from meals to bedtime, are my own and today I am grateful for this. It is truly a gift to travel to Italy, with or without a partner. After all, it’s ITALY, a warm, welcoming country full of such incomparable natural beauty, historical wonders, lovely people and an extraordinary variety of spectacular food.

I am staying on a working farm called Agriturismo Belagaggio, located in Montefollonico, a charming Tuscan village that about 500 residents call home. My room is comfortable and situated near a pond where baby ducks paddle aimlessly, circling their watchful mom. The air is thick with drizzling rain and the sounds of birds, goats and bullfrogs. Nothing compares to this ambient soundtrack.

I fall asleep fast, hard and grateful.