The doors opened and we stepped into the kitchen. The sun streamed in behind us – the little windows not doing much to brighten up the place – but it was cool and it was safe – the tower wasn’t built for relaxing getaways, it was for protection – windows would’ve just given others opportunities to break in.
The floor was rough stone, the walls stuccoed ever so slightly, not to make it beautiful, just to make it strong. Rafaelle had set it up perfectly. A little wood stove in the corner, a desk and two chairs, a table, a green cabinet on the wall – with each little drawer filled with some type of themed items we may need while were there – bug sprays, a medical kit, headlamps, candles. A pan for chestnuts hung above. There was a two-burner gas stove for minimal cooking and a gas refrigerator (a new thing for me!) set on the ground underneath. Rafaelle went over it all – pointing out this and that, the safety procedures if anything went awry. He explained how to use the solar-panel-powered charger for phones, lamps, etc. The shelves held pots and pans, plates and cups, more lanterns, and a pair of binoculars. Underneath the steep stairs, the solar panel was the only thing that looked out of place. A few axes leaned against it, their handles worn from use, grounding the place back further in time again.
“So, what’s the story on this place?” Rami asks as we all start to take turns climbing the steep stairs set against the wall. It was an old watchtower, built over five hundred years ago. My mind wandered as my eyes met the wood floor and I stepped into the first level of the tower. What had happened inside these walls all of those years? What happened just outside them. The tower was probably built to keep watch for the castle nearby. The first level of the tower made me wish it was warmer so we could have enjoyed it more, though Rami did have a nap that probably is up there with the one in the beachside swing in the Maldives. The furniture throughout the rooms of the tower has been sought out from the antique markets of the surrounding towns. I want a tower to fill with treasures too. There’s another gorgeous little woodstove tucked into the old open hearth. I dream of coming back in the winter and being tucked inside – tea on the stove downstairs, the little windows shuttered tight, keeping the heat in.
That afternoon they were thrown wide open. The green fields stretched out behind the shutters. They had thought of every detail – down to the artwork framed on the walls. Up another floor, and we stepped into a writer’s dream. A dark, heavy wooden table claimed the center of the room. If I didn’t have Rami and Luna, and didn’t love the outside just as much as the inside, this is where I would’ve stayed. I felt like I’d need a quill to write there instead of a pen. Instead, we again threw our compliments at Raffaele and climbed up again.
The bedroom is in the loft. The bed sits up under the wooden beams. Once upon a time, it was the colombaia, where the watchmen would have kept their messenger birds. They’ve kept the holes in the stones where the birds used to fly in and out of. A few were made into windows that let the breeze float through at night. That night as we got into bed, I dreamt of birds flying off with little scrolls of paper and torches glowing outside.
After we got the rest of the tour and the safety precautions Raffaele opened the fridge and offered us a beer. We walked around the tower, learned how the outdoor shower and bathroom run, the sink on the side of the house, the barbeque area, where the hammocks were hidden in the woods. So much love was put into every detail.
After the beers, Rafaelle jumped back into his car. “See you in a few days!” and then he was gone and it felt like the rest of the world went with him, and we were alone in our own little paradise – even just for a little while. As the sun started to set, Rami started to set up a fire in the fireplace outside the front door. The border had been made with flat, jagged rocks. It looked like it belonged somewhere in the Game of Thrones, but then, so did the tower. As the flames started to flicker, in the orange light a deer crossed the meadow. We got out the binoculars and opened up Bassel’s freshly made beer (best father-in-law ever award again – Grazie Bassel!) and watched the stars come out.