Tuesday, September 07, 2004

golden sun

We spent Saturday morning wandering the Boboli Gardens behind the Pitti Palace, one of the home's of the Medici. The hedged walks had 30 foot high hedges of hollies, clipped and massive. Lots of playful statuary. And a lovely rectangular parterre garden at the very highest edge of the garden, giving one incredible vistas of villas and houses clinging to the hills south of the Arno.

We left Florence in the afternoon, driving through the Chianti region on small two lane roads, winding back and forth, past small villages. The roads at this level are not marked well as routes, so one looks for signs to villages on the intended route, or in the direction where one wants to end up.

By early evening we arrived in southern Tuscany, finding our renovated farmhouse and our nine friends who are joining us for the week. They were sitting out on the grass, drinking wine and eating plump green grapes. Our farmhouse was built in the 15th century, with walls at least 2-3 feet wide. There are a couple of outer buildings that have been incorporated into the house, with open air walks and covered walks to them, making it all very pavillion like. We are on the top of a hill, amid several other hills, with large expanses of browns and yellows, olive orchards, vineyards, cypress and oaks that look very much like the live oaks of central Texas.

Shelley asked for more descriptions, and I will try and do so, but this particular connection is only lasting a few minutes.

The food? Penne past with garlic and basil, gnocci with tomato sauce, grilled steaks and pork chops, braised in the Tuscan manner, tortes, fruit, wild boar sauce on pasta, lots of bruschetta (forgive the spelling).

The art work in Florence was amazing, this sense of beauty and power in cutting through marble, the teased and relaxed beauties of the paintings in the Uffizzi. I realized at some point that the visualization of the bible in my head is all from Italian paintings. These Tuscan hills look like the Holy Land in my head.

Each vista is out of a painting, with the orderly vineyards, houses, and cypress.

Today, partner and I have stayed mostly at the villa-farmhouse. There is a swimming pool above the house, and the water is ice cold. Lots of pheasants and grouse along the road, and last night, two different groups in our party saw a wild boar on the small dusty road (about 4 km) that we must take winding through the hills from the main road to the house.

Sunday we visited Arezzo and saw men in medieval attire toss and swirl flags. Yesterday we visited the hill towns of Montecino, Perenza, and Montepulchiano. I think we're doing a day trip to Umbria and to Siena later. And then Parter and I are off to Rome. Ciao.


lemming said...

(sigh) aaahhh. This all sounds wonderful. More food! More descriptions! More everything!

lemming said...

(sigh) aaahhh. This all sounds wonderful. More food! More descriptions! More everything!