In my lifelong romantic notions of Italy, no other region has made my heart sing like Tuscany. Enter movies like “Under the Tuscan Sun,” and I was ruined for it beyond repair. So, yesterday – the day we had set aside for a trip to the region – was possibly what I’d looked forward to most.
It did not disappoint.
Our new Floretine buddy, Bernardo (remember him?) strongly suggested a driver, which we’d heard before, but not arranged. He picked up his phone and called his friend Max, making all the arrangements. Max pulled up in a beautiful silver Mercedes, stepping out to introduce himself dressed in a stunning Italian suit, and looking like George Clooney. I kept having to stop myself from calling him George all day!
He set out, driving us out of the city through the area where the elite of Florence reside, and it was absolutely breathtaking. Heavily treed, the first part of the trip to our first stop in Sienna didn’t afford too many glimpses of the countryside beyond, but George Max said the best was yet to come. So, he pulled through the gate of Sienna, and deposited us by the basilica there. A beautiful day, the warmth of the sun played off the ancient stone and stucco of the buildings, and setting them in beautiful relief against the perfect azure sky.
We looked at the beautiful painted pottery there, and stopped in the massive Piazza del Campo, finished in the 1300’s and used for their terrible “games” (bull and horse races – think early Roman-style games to the death). Now it looks like a slanted amphitheater, but smooth, without steps, and is surrounded by open air cafés. Beautiful. The sun seemed to “halo” the clock tower there, warming the brick on the floor of the piazza where I turned from taking pictures to find my man (and several other people) laying on it for a little nap.
So I did, too.
We met George Max at the appointed place, and he took us into the Chianti country. I gasped as the trees gave way to postcard views. Miles and miles of rolling green, a patchwork of vineyards and olive orchards, separated by golden stucco farmhouses with old red tile roofs. Then he turned off the main road to a smaller one, finally turning into the modest gate of a local vineyard. We were met at the car by the owner and winemaker, and taken past his beautiful gardens to his tasting room.
We were seated at a table for four, simply so it could handle the 14 glasses which were filled with a small amount (thank goodness!) of each of their varieties. Then they brought out an antipasto plate paired for the specific wines, followed by his grandmother’s bean soup, and finally his great-grandmother’s lasagna, containing only pecorino cheese, meat and sauce, and drizzled with their truffle oil. I’m ruined for any other lasagna for the rest of my life.
We tasted wines, talked about them, and the food, and thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon, under the direction of the owner’s nephew who was as passionate about their wines and family heritage as his uncle. After purchasing some things to ship home, we found George Max waiting for us on their terrace, and climbed back in for the ride to San Gimignano, the medieval city with 11 towers, dating from the 900’s. He told me to start watching out the window, and the views, wide and long, brought such emotion to me, that tears came.
When we arrived at San Gimignano, we climbed to the top of one of the towers and were afforded 360 degree views of the age old city and the rich countryside below. The sun warmed me there, as I took it in, casting a magical glow on everything I could see, golden and unique to anything I’d seen. It’s no wonder that artists are inspired here, caught in the quality of the light.
We came back completely satisfied, basking in the glow of a perfect day. As I consider it now, the light we found in Tuscany is something that I can carry home. Really, it’s always with me and something I can let pour forth from inside, shining warm and golden on everyone around me. If there is such inspiration under the Tuscan sun, how much more can you and I inspire others by shining the light of its Maker?
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 ESV
<3 perfect …i knew you'd love it. thanks for these beautiful memories. every day i read your posts i turn to doug and say.. we have to go back. i'm ready!!
Thank you for the glorious day I’ve just experienced through this post!! <3