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Under the Tuscan Umbrella

I had the good fortune this month to attend the Travel, Food and Wine Writing Workshop in Tuscany with Nick O’Connell. A group of writers drove and flew in from France, Australia and The States to wine and dine and concoct stories as varied and honest as a Tuscan stew or ragu.

Landing in Rome I would have know exactly where in the world I was, if I had been transported there in my sleep–which of course I was. The villas, the landscape. The planted trees atop hills spaced like musical notes….

We considered ourselves fortunate for the verdant green landscape. Deep forests, gray-green olive groves, promising vineyards, and fields of bright yellow Scottish Broom punctuated with orange-red poppies. At this time of year, we were told, the hillsides are typically gold.

I should have known, for we had flown atop a mattress of cloud all the way.

In Siena my friend and I sat under café awnings in the shell shaped piazza, the Campo, watching monsoon rains wash the stones and run down Roman aqueducts. But for the most part, it was a soft rain with sunbreaks.

Our group walked the vineyards, and strolled among monks in the abbeys. Hiked La Madonna, the path along the perimeter of the hilltop town of Montalcino, where the park drops off into the view like an infinity pool.

When we weren’t eating, drinking or writing, we were walking….

Tuscany is rose country. Roses grow over walls, roofs, and over all, like bougainvillaea along the Riviera.

I fell in love with bells in Siena. Bouquets of bells, from every church and cathedral. But before the bells, an owl woke us each morning. Carried through the narrow canyons of city streets, the three same notes, then silence. Three notes, and silence….

People in Tuscany are very present. The people of Tuscany are not on cell phones.

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