Zach Richardson ’10 …a family affair

Henry and Zach Richardson in CF 2012

Henry and Zach Richardson in CF 2012

Zach’s mother, Rita Richardson, tells us about her wonderfully fateful trip to Cortona to visit Zach which resulted in an enduring connection to Cortona and neighboring hill-town Castiglion Fiorentino.  CLICK HERE to watch a video about the visit that started it all, which includes some footage of students at the UGA Cortona campus. We also get to know what Zach has been up to since his time at Cortona. Don’t miss the links at the end – be sure to read more about the Tanyard Creek Chew Crew.

by Rita Richardson

In my mind’s eye, I can still see the Study Abroad in Cortona poster hanging in UGA’s Moore College. It was 1976, and I was a freshman studying to be a French teacher.  I remember thinking how cool it would be to travel and study in Italy. My mom is Italian, my grandmother was born and raised in Tuscany, and I have several cousins and an uncle that live there.  I knew, though, that my parents were sacrificing financially to send me to college, so I never mentioned studying abroad to them.

street in cortonaIn 2010, my husband (and fellow Bulldog) Tim and I learned that our eldest son Zach, a junior at the time in landscape architecture at UGA, had the opportunity to study in Cortona.  We were excited and happy to be able to send him.  And what a wonderful surprise when Tim told me that I, too, was going to Cortona – to visit Zach while he was there.  Tim couldn’t go, but a dear friend was happy to step in as my travel companion. And so off we went.

The first part of our trip – three days in Florence and three days in Cortona – went beautifully. We had a spectacular time in Cortona visiting the UGA campus, meeting Zach’s friends and indulging in the culinary delights and the town’s festivities.  After Cortona, our plan was to take Zach to visit relatives in Pisa and a couple of other Tuscan towns for the weekend. As luck would have it, we were getting ready to head down the hill to the Camucia train station when we heard the dreaded word: sciopero – /shop er oh/ – which, if you ever hear it, means you’re not going anywhere anytime soon.  All trains and buses were on a twenty-four-hour strike.archeswithflags

Noting our disappointment and dismay, a thoughtful Cortonese gentleman suggested we take a taxi to a “charming” nearby hill town called Castiglion Fiorentino (CF). We took his advice.  Zach and I instantly fell in love with the town, which is indeed charming and medieval and magical.  Exactly one year later, after some persistent house hunting, Tim and bought a fixer-upper in the centro storico – the historical center of the town.

Zach and brother Henry getting off the train in 2012Since that day in 2010, we’ve traveled many times to Tuscany and are making good progress on renovating Casa CF.  I’m honing my Italian language skills, and when we’re there, I volunteer in the town’s school system – teaching English!  Tim is also becoming quite proficient in Italian and has transformed into an avid Fiorentina soccer fan.

Zach is continuing his study of Italian as well, while he finishes up his Master’s in landscape architecture at UGA. His prescribed grazing project – the Tanyard Creek Chew Crew, a herd of goats to clean up an overgrown creek that runs under Sanford Stadium – keeps him busy on campus. Still, he dreams of returning to Tuscany to hunt for cinghiale, wild boar, and play soccer with the locals. He insists that his summer studying abroad was the best experience of his collegiate career and encourages his peers to take advantage of the opportunity every chance he gets.

Read all about the Tanyard Creek Chew Crew – Click on these links: Red and Black Article, Chew Crew Video, Chew Crew Facebook Page, Chew Crew Website

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