Sunday, May 8, 2016

Reflecting on Tuscany

Bo Jackson, our friend and fellow travelers describes it best in his poem which he shared on the bus as we left on Saturday,

What of the sunrise in Tuscany? What of the breezes, and birds on the wing?
How can the mind hold their memory in time, of the blue of their sky or the arias they sing?
How will I keep all that they gave to me, whether villas or villages, vineyards or skies?  
How will I see cobblestones, cypress trees, or the wheat fields that sway in the breeze as it dies?
What of the cities on mountains? Medieval villages, cobbled and steep... 
How can I leave you Cortona? How can I say goodbye, failing to weep?
Can I hold on to your memory? Remember your churches, your people, your art? 
Time will deface but it will not replace you; what I can't remember, I'll hold in my heart.

We were delighted to stay at Villa Laura, where the movie Under the Tuscan Sun  was filmed in 2003. The 17th century villa was purchased by Cline Cellars of Sonoma, California after the filming and has been beautifully restored.

Located on the grounds, the villa

the farmhouse 

and limonaia 

we found spacious rooms to accommodate our group of 20.

The scene from the movie where Diane Lane waves to the elderly man each morning was filmed in the room where we stayed (no there was not a picture of Mother Mary over the bed.)

This is not Bramasole, but we did see several familiar icons like the spigot that dripped 

 We slept with the windows open so we could enjoy the cool breeze. ABN was a bit concerned a pigeon would fly in and leave a bit of good luck (a reference to the movie if you haven't seen it.)

Located just a couple of miles from Cortona, we enjoyed walking the rather steep road into town to shop and find gelato. With a driver provided by the villa and with the assistance of our cute, well informed and fun tour guide, Louise, we made excursions to the famous antique market in Arezzo, the hometown of St. Francis of Assisi, the cathedral and sights in Siena, the towers of San Gimignano and a few other churches and villages . We were pleased to do a few wine tastings and found a favorite Italian wine, Brunello. 

We were fed very well at the villa by 
by Chef Francesco, 

his lovely wife Annamarie and their assistant. Before coming to Villa Laura, Francesco was the chef for George Lucas of Star Wars fame. 

Each evening an aperitif was served by Simone, who also had charge of the wine cellar. 

When we travel, we like to take something home. Not souvenirs to dust but something that will make our lives richer. From Tuscany we will try to replicate some foods we enjoyed (like focaccia and bruschetta) and will look for Brunello wine. Having enjoyed the aroma and tastes of the herbs growing profusely throughout the region and seeing flowers, especially geraniums  at nearly every window, on the walls and by the doors, ABN has plans to stop at a favorite nursery on the way home. (Yes, we already have an amount, but ABN thinks not enough.) 

We had very slow internet at Villa Laura and, due to the thick stone walls, we could only connect while in the living room. That made blogging a bit of a challenge. Currently we are at a hotel in Sorrento and the wifi is much better. 

We are off now to explore the Amalfi Coast region.

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