Posted by: livesimply2livewell | August 5, 2009

Mind-Traveling to Tuscany

Cypress trees and the Tuscan landscape around San Gimignano

Cypress trees and the Tuscan landscape around San Gimignano

I am thinking about Tuscany today.  Maybe it’s the lush tomato harvest and the basil just steps away from my kitchen door.  Maybe the heat this week, humid and heavy, evokes a languor that makes me more given to daydreams than usual.  I don’t know.

There’s a calendar next to my desk.  It’s like the calendars that I buy when  I am in Florence, at one of the news-stand/souvenir kiosks that dot the piazzas of the city.  This particular calendar, however, came from the Barnes & Noble, as I have not been to Italy since 2007.  The photo for August shows rolling green hills near Pienza, with just a hint of late summer in the gold that tinges some of the fields.  Cypresses punctuate the landscape like exclamation points, and rows of grapevines in a small vineyard are abundant with clusters of grapes.  In the distance, an ancient farmhouse, and beyond that, tree-covered hills.  It’s beautiful.

Cypress trees on a mountain overlooking Terontola, near the Tuscan-Umbrian border

Cypress trees on a mountain overlooking Terontola, near the Tuscan-Umbrian border

When I gaze at a view like this, if I’m having a day when I can be “in the moment” instead of thinking about books to send to customers and project deadlines and bills and what to fix for dinner, I’m transported back to the Tuscan countryside.  My first glimpse was in 1994, on a train ride from Rome to Florence.  The beautiful, green November landscape, broken by occasionally fallow fields or recently mown hay fields, sped by the windows.  I thought, “Aha.  It’s a Renaissance painting’s background come to life.”  And it was. 

That first trip was urban – Rome, then Florence, then back to Rome and on the plane.  Tuscany remained a concept, a view beyond the glass windows of a speeding InterCity on the Trenitalia ferrovia. 

Until 2001, that is.  I landed square in the far Tuscan countryside in October, one month after 9-11, when planes flew across the Atlantic almost empty and every traveler seemed on edge.  Reaching my destination was like the moment in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy opened up the farmhouse door after being rocked by the cyclone – and discovered the Land of Oz in green and gold and lushness.

 To be continued…..

(Author’s note:  I first published a series of posts about Tuscany in a blog I built myself, from scratch, a few years ago.  That blog is gone – victim to spammers – but I thought that the words still had something to say.  I envision a series of travel-related posts coming, probably weekly.)

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