A Touch of Tuscany


I realise that I have been at Podere Trove for almost 3 weeks now and I haven’t written anything about it. The truth is that nothing very exciting has happened since we arrived here… and yet… I am having an affair! I am in love with Tuscany. Tuscany is my bit on the side. I am having my cake and eating it in Tuscany! There is something in the expansive countryside of rolling hills and vast, untouched woodland, in the fairy-tale villages of cobbled streets, terracotta roofs and rough, misshapen stone walls and in the winding roads lined with perfect rows of the dark trunks and bright green leaves of vines, or the shimmering silver leaves and pale trunks of olive trees. I can’t explain it really. Like all great romances it was simply love at first sight. Unexplainable, unimaginable, undeniable love. The kind that epic novels are based on. Life here is so simple, so peaceful that I am constantly reminded of living in a 17th century romance novel. Planting vegetables for the kitchen, going out to gather herbs, waiting patiently for the trees to bear fruit with which to make jams and pies. Sweeping the rough stone floors of our little cottage. And of course my daily routine of filling a bucket with well water for my morning wash out in the courtyard.

It is a well known fact that for a long time artists have come from all over the world to study the “Tuscan Light” but before coming here I never would have believed that one place’s light could be all that special and yet it is. There is something magical about the light here, I have seen so many different forms of it, in the way it washes over fields of young wheat like silk, rippling over the surface in the breeze, or the way it glitters through the tops of the trees that hang over the courtyard, casting a maze of shadows over every surface, in the way it can wash a yellow haze over a scene in the rain or splatter the trees with a thousand colours in the evening sun. Sometimes even Barbara or Ugo will stop what they are doing to marvel at a new light that has been cast over a scene, whether it’s shining down over the hilltops turning the grass from green to yellow or bouncing off the leaves of the olive trees emitting that silvery or sometimes even golden glow.
It is in the cities too, when Barbara took us to Sienna for an evening Josh and I spent hours wandering around, not really exploring, just looking. We watched as the light changed from one street to the next, some almost dark and others ablaze with light. I remember standing on one street and watching, fascinated, for several minutes as the almost setting sunlight slowly crept up the walls of the buildings there, starting at the pavement and working its way up, setting the windows on fire as it passed them. I remember that there were two American guys there too, one was in the Pizzeria nearby asking for directions and the other was looking intently at a map on his phone. I wanted to shout at him “Look up! You are missing it!” I couldn’t understand how someone could be standing in such a stunning place at such a crucial moment and not be amazed by the scene that was unfolding.
Barbara said once that some people who come here to volunteer have “Romantic notions” about Tuscany but that she doesn’t see that in us. She meant it as a compliment, it was said in a conversation about how well we have taken to life here. At first I found this perplexing as I have already expressed on many occasions exactly how head-over-heels in love I am with Tuscany, but over time I think I have come to realise what she meant by that, or at least, I have given it my own meaning. Some people come to Tuscany expecting the romance, having seen it in films and read about it in books, they come here with such a strong idea of what it should be like that they fail to see what it’s really like. We arrived without much of an idea of what to expect so everything we see here is brand new, we walk around with our heads held high and our eyes wide open, taking mental pictures of every sight, getting a thrill out of every little change in the scenery, determined not to miss anything and so we see it for what it is.
How can I ever forget the first time that I experienced the full impact of a true Tuscan sunset? We were walking home from Petroio one Sunday evening in May, it had been a beautiful day and Josh and I had taken the day off to have a picnic outside and then we had gone to the bar for a few afternoon drinks. As we turned onto the track that would take us to the farm, I was struck by the scene ahead of us. How can I describe it? It was like Spring had been transformed into Autumn in a split second, the green trees glowed in various shades of orange, yellow and red. When I looked to my right I saw the blazing orange of the sky, underlined with subtle shades of purple and pink. The village of Castelmuzio, turned black against its new backdrop, looked suddenly like a medieval kingdom from a fairytale where a princess waits for a knight in shining armour to sweep her off her feet. To the left I saw Montepulciano far off in the distance, the setting sun reflected there made the town appear to be sparkling. In that moment I was struck speechless, there were no words to describe it, even now I struggle to put into words the beauty of that moment.
Or the day that Josh and I went cherry picking? For a while I stood on the ground holding the basket, having already picked everything within my somewhat limited reach and watched Josh as he worked from the ladder. I watched the sun dancing in his hair, illuminating his skin and casting a bright halo around his head, I watched it bouncing from the bright green leaves to the plump pink cherries and I thought about how many artists had painted scenes just like this one, in this very place.
No I will never forget these moments, the simple pleasures that I have found here. The unexpected adventures and the immeasurable beauty. There is pleasure in every little thing we do and every little thing we see.
What more could one expect from a Tuscan fairytale than simple bliss?

N.Mattock.

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