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A Castle for Your Clan
8/1/2001
Plan your next family reunion abroad with our guide to get-togethers on cabin cruisers, in villas and manor houses, and, yes, even in castles.

The Italian castle, Santa Giulian,wasn't quite what we'd pictured. Once through the cathedral-sized gate, we entered not into the great hall of a structure of towers and turrets, but into open air, blue sky, pathways curving among rock walls, steps leading to doorways, a garden area, grape arbors, small courtyards and the scent of rosemary in the sunshine. Within the outwardly forbidding walls was a six-building medieval village. Family who'd arrived earlier rose in greeting from a lunch table on a sunny terrace. They had been here in various permutations of grandparents, parents and children for two weeks before we came with our son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren for our family reunion in an Italian “castle.”

The prime movers of the core clan who rented the castle had come a few days before the first arrivals and were the sustainers for a month. They assessed the layout and bought the staples and first groceries. As family groups arrived for stays staggered through the weeks, each assumed the responsibility of preparing dinner meals for a day or two, dipping into the jar of lira to which all contributed, then driving to the market in Umbertide. This became a quiet competition for the most splendid meal and best-chosen wines. After late and long dinners on the terrace, families could retreat to their rooms to put the children to bed, then emerge for talk on into the night.

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