Visions of Tuscany An inside into the editor's affair with Italy.
From my Journal - 19th June 2001. Last Sunday, I had a great day, one of those days that last in your memory for a lifetime. My friend Carlo invited me for a day out on his Motorbike. We left mid morning, after a 5.30am finish from the night before and headed for Siena. A stroll around the Piazza where the Palio di Siena will shortly occur (a huge event which is totally Sienese and which I am sure to get to this year) and then lunch in a Trattoria, Tuscan anti pasta and Pizza, two bottles of wine and coffee - does it get any better??
From there we headed off to Montalcino, a small village 'su un Collina' where they make "Brunello" considered the best Italian wine (according to my research on the Internet) There is a 10th Century Castle in Montalcino, the last to fall in the 'Florentine wars' perched on the top of the 'Collina' overlooking the Sienese, we wondered
around for an hour or so, then Carlo introduced me to Brunello, in fact to 'Banfi' which is a type of Brunello - boy did I like that. I've always liked a little wine, but that
Banfi will stay with me for a long time I think, maybe it was the setting as well; in the courtyard of the castle, mid afternoon, classical music in the background, gently breeze. mmm I felt like I was in a film.
It was at Montalcino that it really started, we slept in at the foot of the castle for an hour in the afternoon, on the grass, awoke and headed for
Gelato and coffee, then boarded the Bike and headed for Monticchiello, winding country road, soft rolling hills and the odd villa, splashed with
colour from the spring flowers.
The ride was about 40 minutes (at 160kph). That stretch of countryside is among the most beautiful places I've ever visited. We arrived to a village that apart from the cars is exactly as it was 1000 years ago, no tourist, really unknown and a small dot on the map. I had the good fortune of being able to visit it with a local person, other wise I would perhaps never have discovered it. Perched on a hilltop, overlooking several valley and on to another village in the middle distance also perched on a hilltop. I've loved being in Tuscany - everything here is so picturesque,
colours, classical, tasteful, warm. But this particular valley and village has no comparison. This is when I knew I had fallen for Tuscany.
When we left, it was just starting to rain really lightly, so we took it a bit slower on the bike, Carlo took me via Montepulciano, which is also very well known as a wine region and then on to his home 'Paese', Fratta where they where having a 'Sacra' (village festival) this one was the 'Sacra della Pastasciuta' one of my
favourite things!!! it was held in the soccer field and most of the village was there, I met a bunch of people who just took me in and I was instantly part of the group. The whole of the ride was just under 300
kilometres. Pasta and red wine - BRING IT ON!!
The Tuscans are such an interesting people, different from the other Italians Ive known, they love to have a good time, most things to excess, lots of food, lots Of wine and partying. They work hard, but treat themselves really well. A really warm people and very friendly, so friendly in fact that when I first arrived, I was more than a bit suspicious, I though 'what do these people want from me' wasnt really sure how to take them. It took me a little while to overcome my paranoia and relax into it. Having come from a difficult background, these people are very proud of their heritage, in fact this Sunday, I am going to The Giostra dell Saracino, which is a Medieval Joust, held in the main Piazza of Arezzo. This annual event has been happening here for centuries, and is the subject of fierce competition between the 4 quarters of the city. I must be careful to remain an impartial spectator lest I offend.
On Monday, 2 friends have invited me to go trail bike riding with them, they are taking me to northern Tuscany to a national park to visit a monastery built by Saint Frances of Assisi, its only accessible by trail bike or on foot, the people who I have spoken to about this monastery tell me its breathtaking, can't wait.
Mostly my days are filled with quite morning coffee and breakfast at the Agritourism and then off to work till 12.30 then lunch either here or with friends in Arezzo, usually, I connect up to the net briefly in the early afternoon, then home and some work on the computer (mostly with this database and writing to companies with proposals etc. I'm enjoying it. Lots of time for reflection and I feel like I'm allowing the changes that seem to be occurring in my life to happen naturally without my intervention.
Have I ever told you of the Persian expression, "what if one day you went to sleep, and dreamed you went to heaven, and in heaven, you plucked a beautiful rose. And what if when you awoke from your dream you had in your hand the rose? How would you look upon your life then? Could it ever be the same?'
Who knows when we'll awake to find such a rose in our palm?
This website is proudly edited by Alessandro Sorbello, a freelance travel writer and publisher based in Italy and Australia.
Italy By Region
Italy is divided into 20 regions each with its own unique flavors.