Everything's bigger in....Tuscany??
Now as y'all know, it's a certainty that Texas owns all braggin' rights to "bigger & better". After all, our founding renegades didn't design that flag with One. Big. Star. for no good reason. However, after today's impromptu back road adventure, I think a small portion of Tuscany is vying for a little recognition in the size department.
Morning hours were devoted to research and gracious desk top usage in Ray's Tuscan Enterprises office, and then it was back to Chianti Bar for another round of that amazing ribolitta and red wine while I did a bit more online updating.
With a good portion of the afternoon at my beck and call, I decided a short road trip was in order, but to where? On this day, Lady Toscana had hastily removed her spring glory and recloaked in soft grey draping that eased the landscape into reflective repose. Despite my pure delight in the bright array of sunlit central Italy yesterday, this soft presence merely offered a different sort of beauty to take in.
I decided to head east to a gravely turn off that led to the tiny community of Vigliagli, an Etruscan necropolis, and who knows what else. Having been down this road several years ago but only as far as the necropolis, it seemed like a good idea to pick up where I left off.
The bumpy dusty road lead me on through wide open spaces that practically threw magnificent Tuscan vistas in my lap, while other portions were dark forested and seemed to be protecting the medieval ghosts that lurked within. It was delightful.
Arriving at the small Etruscan necropolis, I was starkly aware of being alone with these ancients as I stepped from my car onto the ground where mourning souls had trod to bury their dead. The beautiful song of several birds, as well as distant cuckoo, joined my thoughts in this otherwise silent revery.
I stepped down into the now open pit that had once held the elegantly carved burial boxes that held the ashes of Etruscan dead. The remaining stonework was of fine workmanship, squared and set to hold for how many thousand years now. I touched the edges here and there, imagining who else had touched this and how possible it somehow connected us in humanness and experience.
Soon enough another car came along, and that was my signal to slip away further down the quiet road.
With no certain plans other than to maybe find the supposed Roman ruins somewhere out where, which I never did...again...I ventured on, passing through, over, and around copious views, Tuscan farmhouses restored or crumbling, stately villas, and moments I tried so hard to burn into my memory and senses. One tiny hamlet lay on a hill I crested, first noting the cemetary, and then some sort of monument. In this incredibly small place made up of not more than a scattering of buildings? I stopped and walked to the side of the somewhat abstract looking giant pin memorial and found a bronze plaque honoring the life of one soul from this spot called home who'd given his all in the resistance of 1944. It was poignantly sad, yet touching, and made me think of what this place I stood on must've been like some 70 years ago. It often strikes me of how the Italy I'm seeing today is most probably not much different than the Italy our WWII heroes saw under much different circumstances. God bless them all.
A sign declaring "Dievole" caught my eye. Wine...a wine label I've seen in Kerrville! No questions on having to turn down that road. I followed a short, cypress lined crushed gravel path that led up to a perfectly preserved farm house which stood sentry to the incredibly vineyard and Dievole complex that lay at the lower end of the now wide open vista. What a photo opportunity, and of course a bottle of Dievole will be in my grocery cart once home.
Continuing to meander on down the next narrow roadway, a brown (read: something cool and historic) sign marked "Scopeto" caught my eye. Why not. As I came upon the turn off, I let loose a burst of laughter as I spied a large, very large, broom. For a second, I wondered just what was in that lunchtime wine! It dawned on me later, however, that scopere means to sweep in Italian, so bravo for the villa owners at this great visual.
I drove down to the villa, turned off onto yet another narrow and grandiose cypress lined path leading to the regal Scopeto. It was obviously a smallish castle or the likes at one time, and now found itself relegated to making tourists feel like royals. I decided not to get out, but made note to return here some day with hopes of getting swept off my feet in medieval luxury!
Driving somewhat aimlessly but in the direction towards Castellina, I rounded yet another curve and was met the the view of two very large bell peppers sitting in someones yard. I yanked the car to the side, stating aloud "I HAVE to get a picture of this!", and marveled at coming upon yet another giant living in this little corner of Tuscany.
But wait...the giants didn't end there. Just as I was of the notion I'd better get on a beeline back to town, I was met with two huge roadside figures peering/leaning into cypress trees. I was now delighted with this third find and became very curious as to just who the whimsical wizard behind these sights was.
Ghosts, giants, and me....all happily wrapped in the arms of a land full of mysteries and whimsy!
Paula A. Reynolds
Traveler or Tourist?