TODAY | November 17, 2011
MATT LAUER, co-host: We're back at 8:51 with YOUR LIFE CALLING TODAY . TODAY contributor Jane Pauley has been working with AARP which has produced and sponsored a series of reports for us. This morning she takes us to the Italian countryside. Not bad.
Ms. JANE PAULEY: Indeed. Ever go on vacation to a beautiful place and dream about not going home? Bill and Patty Sutherland are living the dream. Here's their life calling. Do you ever get tired of those bells?
Mr. BILL SUTHERLAND: Never.
Ms. PATTY SUTHERLAND: No.
Mr. SUTHERLAND: Never.
Ms. PAULEY: The eternal beauty of Tuscany , vineyards, olive groves, the undulating hills had called repeatedly to Bill and Patty Sutherland .
Mr. SUTHERLAND: I love food. I wanted to be able to make my own olive oil and have a garden.
Ms. SUTHERLAND: We wanted to explore something new. We wanted to get out of our comfort zone. We had too much wine one day at lunch around the corner from here and the rest is history .
Ms. PAULEY: She was 53, he was 54. They sold their house and Bill 's real estate business in Dallas .
Ms. SUTHERLAND: We sold 90 percent of what we had.
Ms. PAULEY: Was it a retirement idea?
Ms. SUTHERLAND: No. We made the decision that we wanted to live here permanently and in order to do that, we would have to downsize and have to come up with a concept for a business.
Ms. PAULEY: They came, they saw, they started a cooking school .
Mr. SUTHERLAND: This is all from the garden. We're going to go out in the garden in a few minutes.
Ms. PAULEY: Five months a year a dozen students a week come to Tuscan Women Cook to learn traditional cooking from local cooks.
Mr. SUTHERLAND: There's no celebrity chef involved. We don't do that. We just -- we use the locals.
Ms. PAULEY: They real Tuscan women.
Mr. SUTHERLAND: The real stuff.
Ms. PAULEY: Who can cook.
Mr. SUTHERLAND: Yes. They can cook, trust me.
Ms. PAULEY: Christina , is this exactly the way Anna 's mother did it and her mother?
Ms. PAULEY: And her mother? And her mother?
Ms. PAULEY: And her mother.
CHRISTINA: So you see? You have learned.
Ms. PAULEY: In any language, running a business in a foreign country is not easy.
Mr. SUTHERLAND: They're coming in by rental car. Some of these others have drivers. I need to send drivers to pick them up.
Ms. SUTHERLAND: Oh, I see.
Ms. PAULEY: Paying taxes and regulations and different cultures.
Ms. SUTHERLAND: It was just something that we would have to figure out as we went along.
Ms. PAULEY: Were you ever tempted to pack it in?
Ms. SUTHERLAND: Yeah. That happens to a lot of expats after about two years. The honeymoon is over. I went through a period of time that was very difficult. We're very isolated in the winter up here on this hill. We had six grandchildren who are growing up. We were missing a lot of the holidays.
Ms. PAULEY: Now they spend the off season with their family back in Dallas . But for 11 years, Tuscany has been home.
Mr. SUTHERLAND: What are these called?
Ms. SUTHERLAND: Oh, we're looking at tomatoes.
Mr. SUTHERLAND: Patty and I were childhood sweethearts. We got back together later in life.
Ms. SUTHERLAND: We both were married very young. We had kids very young and we just never had the adventure.
Ms. PAULEY: But now there's a new challenge. At 65, Bill has a serious heart problem. It's not certain they'll be back next spring.
Mr. SUTHERLAND: But you know, you make the best of it. Every day I wake up, the sun comes up , I'm just as happy as I can be.
Ms. PAULEY: But stay or go, Bill and Patty Sutherland will always have Tuscany .
Ms. SUTHERLAND: We won't be able to say, gosh, we wish we would have done that. I want my grandchildren and my great grandchildren to look at the photo albums and say that was my crazy grandmother who really had an adventure.
Ms. PAULEY: There is at least one woman in Tuscany who does not cook -- Patty. She loves history and culture. Food and wine is Bill 's passion. Patty was an art teacher, he was a businessman. Bill 's the romantic. She's the realist. And that's the reality check. Their different temperaments and skill sets made the adventure possible and the business a success. Hope you'll join me at noon Eastern on the -- on my Internet radio call-in show at aarp.org/jane. Matt: