Posted by Gail Hecko of Gails Great Escapes
People travel to foreign places for so many reasons. Some want simply to shop, some to check things off a list, some to tell their friends where they’ve been. Others go to experience a slice of life different from their own: a unique culture, priceless art they can touch, a landscape that looks like a movie set, people too kind to be real. This has been my personal experience, and it has changed my life.
Sometimes I sit in the moment and record my impressions of Italy, my Tuscany, my medieval village life in Montisi. It’s about simplicity, the things that matter most in my life, the events that touch me. Here are a couple of thoughts that I have written over the years.
Returning to Italy…
My heart is full of remembrance.
The images behind my eyes are slowly coming into focus.
Images that will be fully seen in a few short days:
The impossibly blue wedges of sky, the glorious green of Spring,
The silver slices of olive leaves, earth the color of sienna,
The ancient buildings standing proudly in their sameness through the centuries,
Stinging my eyes with tears from their beauty.
I will return to the fragrance of coffee like no other,
The scents of rosemary, basil, and lavender in the air,
And of meals being prepared behind shuttered windows.
The tastes of wine with a history, of cheese aged in the valley nearby,
Of thick pasta rolled by a nonna’s practiced hand,
Will mingle with the freshness of vegetables from the garden.
Soon the rhythmic language that makes my ears sing,
Will surround me like a dance of words.
The cathedral bells will toll their song back into my soul,
And I will feel a peace and harmony I feel nowhere else.
The dear faces of friends, some from years past, some newly discovered,
Will fill me once again with pleasure and joy.
All my senses will awaken from their dream, and I will feel at home in my heart.
Each dawn the sun releases the ancient hilltops from their nightly sentinel.
The golden light pours slowly down the hills and settles into the valleys for a
moment here, a moment there. The smallest blade of grass shifts slightly to receive its full share of nurturing warmth. Houses glow with the tones of the earth and the farmer’s dance with the land begins anew.
Shadows soften as the sun moves on, revealing shady pastures and sleepy-headed sheep. Birds sing with the tolling bells. Shutters swing open with a creak and an iron clang as they are locked into place. The mist gently lifts and disappears with the moon into the blue sky.
In Italy when a child is born, it is “dato alla luce”, given to the light. For thousands of years, each day the land is given to the light and is born again.
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Gail Hecko, the owner of Gail’s Great Escapes, shares her passion for Italy and Southern Tuscany through week-long tours. She lives half the year now in the medieval village of Montisi where she is always on the look-out for interesting experiences for her guests. The concept of her tours is to be on-site to provide information about the area without having every day planned as a group outing.
On Monday of each week, there is a group winery and cheese-tasting tour with Pino, and one evening a visit to a local restaurant together. Other days, the guests decide what they want to do – their interest, their pace. No stress, no schedule but the one they make for themselves. Art lessons, cooking classes, ballooning, great food and wine, and new friends, culminate in an “Under The Tuscan Stars” party each week.
There is a peaceful simple spirit in Montisi. It’s magical.