Inspiration via Acqui Terme: Listening, Sharing & Working Toward a Common Goal

Palazzo of Eleonora Ricci Misheff and Alzek Misheff, Acqui Terme, Italy

Palazzo of Eleonora Ricci Misheff and Alzek Misheff, Acqui Terme, Italy

In November of last year, I visited Diana Baur at her *fabulous* bed and breakfast with Sara Rosso. On our only full day there, Diana took us on a tour of her beloved Acqui Terme* in Piemonte.

Don’t you just love seeing a place through the eyes of someone who has utterly and madly fallen in love with it?

We stumbled upon a couple loading firewood into their foyer — well, really a cortile with cathedral ceilings and a grand alabaster staircase leading skyward. So we stopped, and Diana discovered that architect Eleonora Ricci Misheff and artist Alzek Misheff also share her love for Acqui Terme. Then they invited us inside their 17th century palazzo, meticulously restored and lovingly decorated with gorgeous artwork by Signor Misheff.

Each of us was deeply moved and affected by the experience in our own way (read Diana’s impressions), but one thing we shared in common:

We were overwhelmed by the warmth, beauty, and knowledge of everything about that palazzo, a place we stumbled upon by chance — or maybe not.

On a crisp November day, these kind owners stopped what they were doing to share their home and workspaces with us, to explain not only the physical reconstruction of the building but also the philosophy and emotions behind their choices.

So many small moments of that day were magical, but something that has stayed with me was when Signor Misheff launched into a lyrical Aristotelian lecture about how important it is for people to work together in order to bring ideas to fruition, for each person to share his or her talents to work toward the common goal. It’s all “a process,” he said, one that requires different perspectives and skills.

And this “process,” he added, calls for a group of like-minded people who “live, appreciate, think, work, and understand” it.

Palazzo of Eleonora Ricci Misheff and Alzek Misheff, Acqui Terme, Italy

Palazzo of Eleonora Ricci Misheff and Alzek Misheff, Acqui Terme, Italy

In other words, no casual observers need apply — you have to feel it, work at it, and make it happen. Such a process isn’t easy, Signor Misheff said, but it’s always worth it.

As Sara commented at the time, I said next to nothing during the hour (or was it two? three?) we toured the house. Instead, I snapped photos and recorded some video, but mainly listened — allowing Signor Misheff’s words and the elegant simplicity of the surroundings to wrap themselves around me, seep inside of me, and make such an impression that I’d never forget them even without photos and video.

I’m naturally a quiet person and a listener at heart, but I’m especially attentive (and silent) when I’m in awe of someone, when I know they have so much to teach me that my best course of action is to just shut up and listen.

In those situations, I relish the chance to absorb like a spugna and tuck it all away to process later in quiet moments of reflection and calm.

Now, months later, I realize that during those moments, I was gradually reaching the decision to change the direction of this blog in order to talk more about finding and appreciating simple pleasures, living deliberately, and cutting out physical and emotional clutter.

By that point, I had been considering taking that route for months, but I was at that proverbial crossroads, still unsure of so many things — how would longtime readers respond? Would they accept the change, even embrace it? Should I fold up this blog and start a new one? Should I just stop blogging altogether?

I never really wanted to stop writing entirely though, so I took Signor Misheff’s thoughts about community, about “process,” and applied them here among an already amazing community of readers. I put faith in the idea that by writing about what I believe in and feel passionate about, those on the same wavelength will willingly offer up their talents, skills, and visions, and together we can learn and grow. In case this is not clear, let me assure you:

I am loving this process, as we “live, appreciate, work, and understand” this common goal together.

That short visit in Acqui Terme reinforced my desire to not only keep this wonderful blog community going, but to make it stronger, to enrich connections, to explore topics and ideas that dig a little deeper, to make us all think and feel a little bit more — and, most of all, to continue to share those experiences with one another.

Can you recall a time when you stood in silent amazement and just listened? What did you hear?

*For more photos of Acqui Terme and Misheff palazzo, please see my Flickr set.

25 Beans of Wisdom to “Inspiration via Acqui Terme: Listening, Sharing & Working Toward a Common Goal”
  1. Fantastic post. I really like the new direction of your blog. You give us a lot to think about.

    I had one of those silent moments of amazement when I went to the Villa Borghese Gallery and looked at the Berninis.

    There were several of those moments during my first trip to Italy.

    I still have them.

    I hear you…and thank you πŸ™‚

  2. Heh, I guess on our 1-year anniversary of visiting there, I’ll post my pictures πŸ™‚ I love the ones you captured – there was so much light there!

    I didn’t even post any from Diana’s place yet, and very few from Milan…one of these years πŸ˜‰

  3. 06.03.2011

    love the new direction, michelle. i was awed to silence gazing into the water on elba and standing along the coast in a teeny town in amalfi.

    Looooovely images, Sperlygirl, thanks!

  4. 06.03.2011

    Dear Michelle, I have dropped by your blog now and then over the past year or so, and I must say I like the introspective footpath you’ve started down. I also like how living in Italy makes simplicity an attractive option–even though I have two children, we don’t have nearly the amount of stuff my friends back in the States do, and for the most part, we don’t miss it! And, as you point out, it’s also much easier to eat conscientously and well here, too….

    However, as a mother with two kids in Italian elementary school, I often feel a sort of frustration with the rampant materialism attached to child-rearing I see around me–at least speaking of my experience here in Florence. It just feels a bit over the top at times, and I often feel it is something I am struggling against. At times I believe that it’s us expats that crave the simple life, that fight to hang onto traditions that aren’t even ours to begin with, while the Italians desire nothing more than to plunge headfirst into the great foam and froth of 21st century consumerism–as if making up for lost time.

    Anyway, I raise my virtual glass to your efforts. Cin cin!

    I agree, that in many ways, Italy is “catching up” with the times…and not always in good ways. I imagine it’s a struggle for parents everywhere to keep their children on the path to what’s truly important. Thanks so much for commenting!

  5. 06.03.2011

    Hi Michelle,
    I, too, appreciate this direction toward simplicity. I always have this itch to slough off my material junk, and stick with things I can’t quite hold in my hand– experiences, friendships, gorgeous snapshots of what the world has to offer. Inspiring post.

    Thank you, A; the best things in life aren’t things, right? πŸ™‚

  6. Louisa Calder

    Timing is everything in life, the cord you are striking with many of us at the moment is just so precisely SPOT ON… keep doing it – and sharing it as you have, as a Mummy of three older children in England surrounded by the glories of popular, modern culture, I regularly preach: fewer possessions, better quality, it’s people not things….(my children roll their eyes over their laptops) but by osmosis something is sinking in, they are questioning this rampant consumerism, my Eldest on a gap year has spent time with some of the poorest people on this earth, he has been moved by their kindness, their happiness and their sense of freedom. Michele you are doing such a valuable job, and you do it with the lightest of touches, Louisa

    Louisa, thank you so much for this beautiful comment; you truly made my day…and it sounds like you’ve done a fabulous job as a Mum to boot πŸ˜‰

  7. 06.03.2011

    My moment of silent amazement was at the beach in the Gulf of Mexico at sunset. Once in a while– rarely– as the sun slides into the horizon there is a green flash of light. I saw it once in the time I lived in FL. As bright green light burst from the horizon into the sky, I heard the sound of the waves swooshing onto the beach. I remember thinking how energizing and comfortable the moment was– unexpected, yet wonderful– simple, but filled with wonder.

    [Thank you for asking this question. I’d forgotten all about this experience.]

    Aaaah so, so wonderful, Ally. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Sophia

    Hello Michelle,

    I have been enjoying your writing for some time now. My answer to one such time would be when I first visited the Sassi of Matera in the still of the night and listened to the words in my mind translate into a poem onto my sketchbook; inspiration from my first impressions of a place so steeped in a mysterious past yet so real and close to me in the present. I’m always finding ways to return.


    How lovely, Sophia! I’m hoping to get to Matera this month πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for sharing your memories.

  9. Gil

    Thanks for another heartwarming post along with your usual more than beautiful pictures!

    Thanks, Gil!

  10. 06.04.2011

    this is to be one of my top 5 blog posts of the week….lovely!

    Thanks so much, Rosemary!

  11. 06.04.2011

    I treasure those short days together. It was just wonderful and needs to be repeated. I think you are both wonderful women, and yes, ideas are borne of moments like those in Acqui touring that incredible residence. xoxo grazie cara.

    Couldn’t agree more. Such an amazing few days πŸ™‚

  12. Casey

    Ah now we’re talking, this is the stuff i started reading your blog for! love it, and always eager to read more. lets discuss Cultural Conditioning sometime yea? πŸ™‚ I too am an American expat living abroad but where fate has brought me at this time in my life is the middle east. or another planet as i like to think of it sometimes haha

  13. 06.06.2011

    The journey is what is so amazing. We grow and change and share our realizations with others. We open others’ eyes. We send our passions out on little streams of fairy dust. And those of us who are looking up toward the sun can catch a mote of fairy dust in our eye and connect with whatever sparked a new step in the right direction. Bravo!

    How lovely, Bura! Thank you so much for sharing πŸ™‚

  14. 06.06.2011

    Great post and I am pleased you found such inspiration to change. I also like the direction your blog has taken.

    Thanks so much, Sue πŸ™‚

  15. saretta

    Yes, in a period of feeling a bit lost, I used to sit on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and listen to the wind and the waves and think about the great and grand nature of the world and life. I felt blocked at that time, but the ocean inspired me to think that there was a big, wide world out there just waiting for me to make of it what I would!

    Lovely! You remind me that many years ago (pre-P) I used to walk to and sit in a little olive grove that called my name…aaaaahhhhhh πŸ™‚

  16. Wow … wow … wow!! What an amazing experience. Thank you so much for sharing about it … and especially for taking your readers along with you on your journey. I know I look forward to reading your posts along the way. Honestly, I stand in awe of you … and we haven’t even had a chance to meet yet! πŸ™‚

    That’s very sweet, Laura; I love following your journey as well…so inspiring πŸ™‚

  17. 06.12.2011

    I was already a HUGE fan of your blog – but since you decided to take the new direction, I have loved it even more. Thank you for your great writing!

    Thank you so much, Mrs. P; that means a lot to me πŸ™‚

  18. Sophia

    Hello again Michelle,

    I think you would really enjoy a trip to Matera. There is also a festival, the Festa della Madonna dell Brunna, that takes place there in July that I had attended some time ago, that you may find is worth waiting for:) Peace.

    I think I actually wrote about that festival for Italy Magazine a couple/few years ago! Although this trip got cancelled, I just may be headed to Matera after all for the Fiction Festival in the fall. Fingers crossed!

  19. 06.13.2011

    Honey, I think you have great courage and wisdom to follow your heart. Truly, do what you love, and the rest falls into place. In bocca al lupo. Glad to be back and able to support you from this side of the pond!

    Un bacione, cara…can’t wait till we can meet up in person πŸ™‚

  20. 06.13.2011

    When I was a little girl I would accompany my Nonna when she did her daily shopping. The morning always involved stopping in a chiesa to light a candle and say some prayers. Kneeling together, I would listen to her whispering her prayers; while I couldn’t hear what she was saying, just the sound of her whispering was both comforting and beautiful.

    I remember those moments with fondness …

    Oh that is so lovely, Maria; thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

  21. 06.14.2011

    your blog is an inspiration, the old one was and the new one iseven more so! an inspiration but also an example of the direction I would like to go one day.. Moreover, the Acqui Terme is a place I am putting on my list.. one never knows..

    Acqui Terme is absolutely deserving of being on your list…hope you get there!

  22. Kanika

    The blog post was so inspirational! really good.

    Thanks for stopping by, Kanika!

  23. sweetie

    fab post…and loved the way you are gradually reaching the decision to change the direction of this blog…..

    Thanks Sweetie!

  24. 08.08.2011

    Dear Michele, During my journey in life, I have found some of my best answers in the ‘silence.’ Inspiration and passion are all around us. You have been given the gift of listening.

    Life would be so boring is we knew the ending! Thanks for sharing not only this post but ‘You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first base.’

    michelle Reply:

    Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth; silence is a true gift indeed πŸ™‚



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