Friday, July 14, 2006

The Hill Country of Toscana

Must keep this short as this internet point is strange, and I have no options for color or even an English oriented keyboard. A contingent of Russians have used this prior to me, and I cannot get any of the symbols as they are presented on the keyboard! Well, there is one that worked, but dashes, parentheses, hyphens, at signs, etc., are impossible.

Since I last checked in we've seen a number of the fascinating hill towns that characterize this region. We like to skirt the city centers and walk around the perimeters, far more interested in architecture and city geography than we are in the multitudes of tourist oriented shops and cafes. Although we did have the best gelato I've ever ingested in Volterra, pistachio for me, peach for Aaron. In addition to Volterra we've been to Radda, Castellina, Greve, Panzano, and beautiful as it looks in pictures, but extremely crowded and the weather did not cooperate, hovering around 100 F! If the food was not so extraordinary in Italy I think I'd have lost 25 pounds by now, at times I've been so saturated by the heat I felt like I'd just stepped out of the shower (hey just found a few symbols!).

We did not go to the Uffizi, as precious as it is. Perhaps we'll go next week. Instead we opted for a more unique experience at the Palazzo di Pitti apartments, and were happy that we did. It is so authentically unpreserved that it felt a bit like wandering into a Great Expectations experience ... I half expected an Italian Medici-related (found some more) Mrs. Havisham-type to wander through the palace as we gazed at paintings hanging askew from old ribbon-style bands. Did I mention that there was NO AIR-CONDITIONING!?!? Good God it was sweltering.

Later the views we saw from the Piazza Michelangelo were beyond translation. The sounds of the city wafted up, muffled by the thickness of the summer air, and the Arno river seemed as if it were a river of olive oil, so thick, green and languid. Really, so many of our experiences evoke some painting, or some moment in literature--we are constantly inspired by our intersections with history.

It is so good to get some e-mails from home (thank you friends!), and good to know that my adventures are being processed by minds more focused than my own!

Some final impressions to leave you with:

* One can really understand the color inspirations that typified the paintings of the Italian Rennaisance. There is a contrast and pastel undertone that tones everything in a very particular way ... clouds have an ethereal quality, smudged by soft peachy, cream, and aqua tones.

* The food in Tuscany is relatively simple, but wonderful. I have eaten a pasta with a black truffle component twice now. Why don't we use those more in American cuisine, they are DELICIOUS. The cheesecake with fresh berries I had for dessert last night was served warm, and with a fluffiness that even beats my mother's.

* On one night we experienced an orange moon rising, which is not like anything I've ever seen. I mean orange, like a huge pumpkin in the sky--quite amazing.

* I feel good in Europe, there is something here ... something vaguely familiar-an ancestral memory perhaps?

* It is clearly impossible for me to keep anything "short," isn't it? :-)

I dearly miss you, all my friends, and cannot wait to host the end-of-summer bash when we return!

P.S. The Russians (I'm talking 16 of them) have taken over our agriturissimo. They are raucus and surprisingly unfriendly, and this will make leaving here on Sunday a bit easier. Other than that, and the nasty wasp sting/bite, this place has been heaven.


At 6:46 AM, Blogger Karina said...

It sounds like you are having an amazing time Hools. I look forward to seeing photos :)

At 8:42 AM, Blogger Pamela said...

Karina, I thought of you during the weekly winemaker's dinner here at the agriturissimo. We sat at the table with a group of the most wonderful family from Adelaide. The family consisted of a middle-aged brother, his two sisters, and his wife. They were simply an evening of fun, cracking jokes, poking fun at the Brits who were also at our table, and drinking all of us under the table with ease. I told them how you had taught me about many of the treasures of Oz, the opal mines, the unique national parks, the unusual critters, etc. We were sorry to see them leave this morning as they were really loads of fun.

As soon as we can find a place to buy the cable that runs from the camera into our laptop, and a place that has wireless access, we'll have some spectacular photos to share.

At 9:27 PM, Anonymous Sandy said...

I'm so glad I decided to check here. Sounds like you're having a great time. Can't wait to see the pictures.

At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wait until you get back home and see how strange it feels to be surrounded by malls, fast food chains, and people buying everything they can get their hands on. I cried when I left Tuscany and felt like a stranger when I came back to California...but not for long. Hope you are having a wonderful time. Miss you both. Tell Aarron I said herroh.



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