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Two Homes: Two Valleys


I'm inextricably rooted to my home in the Hudson Valley. For 55 years I've never considered leaving it for long. Even when my parents split and we lost 75 of 110 acres I had enough left to stay attached to our old farm in Milan. While I mourn the loss of part of the land that was mine till I was twelve, I see it every day and know it’s okay. If I ever feel doubtful or disconnected, I go to the middle of my mown field, lay face down, spread my arms wide and give it a big bear hug.

Now my kid is twelve and I reflect on how they are connected to this property. Tyler has enjoyed that same sense of childhood wonder, running freely in the fields and woods and on long dirt roads.


When I took them and my husband to the Italian village of Morinesio that I had been visiting for years, they experienced an innocent delight and fascination there, feeling safe and connected to another place.  Perched on the slopes of Piedmont’s Valle Maira, Morinesio has become dear to my heart and I sense that it is dear to theirs.


After searching for a getaway place in Tuscany, my German friends Christa and her husband Fritz got lost in the mountains and came across Morinesio and knew it would be their home. Over the last 25 years, they have respectfully modernized a number of the medieval houses and compounds of this mountainside village. I’ve visited them many times over the years and I feel I can call it a second home, one that's ancient, majestic and breathtaking. And yet, after a while, I get homesick for my spot in the Hudson Valley. Nothing's quite as grand there as it is in Valle Maira, where they think the Catskill Mountains are hills.


Moonrise, recurring and everlasting, affirms my place on this planet whether I view it with my kidfrom our back door or during a summer solstice procession around Morinesio’s church on the high horizon.

This world's always mutable but it seems no less permanent to me. My kid has a lifetime to choose where they feel at home.

I love my mountain views from Milan, New York no less. While I don’t have a wonderful church perfectly placed in the distance, I have rolling fields and a hill with sunset vistas that serve as my sanctuary. My 1800s wooden barn home feels as timeless as a medieval stone doorway. The gravel on my dirt road crunches underfoot in the same way it does in Morinesio. And Tyler frolics as I once did, appreciating the new and the old equally.


This piece is dedicated to my kid, Tyler,

(Grace Tyler Bard Benepe [they/them])

Edited appropriately with Love.

 January 2023
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