“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”. – unknown
Tuscany leaves me breathless.
Each evening I walk the ancient Tuscan property, we now call home. It has become a ritual that literally feeds my soul.
The sounds at dusk vary based on the time of year, in late October and early November, the crickets have long bedded down for the season leaving the wildlife to continue nature’s chorus.
The sounds of the fauna are so comforting and yet haunting at the same time. They call out to one another and based on their natural rhythm, it is either time for rest or time to rise.
Once the birds have completed their songs of praise upon the lands of Arceno, the bats swoop between the cypress trees along Cypress Alley. Glistening eyes appear as robust black and white porcupine move slowly and lean hares rush off, avoiding time in the spot light.
The wild deer (Roe) with their delicate frames, jumping in the field, giving you a flash of their white behinds as they rush toward the Bosco (woodland). Their small antlers sitting like thorny crowns upon their small heads.
The dark rust-brown volpe (fox) has returned to Montecchio now that Gaja, our trusted canine neighbour has returned to England. The volpe leaving me a perfectly shaped “parcel” in the centre of the tufa pathway, ensuring I knew he was back. I scoffed, and laughingly, tossed his gift into the field. “Let our games begin”.
In late October, a large sow and her two spotted piglet were seen at the bottom of the terraced olive grove of Casale Montecchio. Perhaps having an early evening snack on the olives which were missed by the nets during the olive harvest, or on the small ghianda (acorns) having fallen from the trees. I am told the ghianda make the meat of the wild boar more delicious and the nuts are often used for bait during hunting season.
With wine glasses in hand, my husband and I strolled with our visiting friends for a closer view. Despite our safe distance, the wild boars left in a hurry with a few indignant snorts. In their scramble they left nothing behind but flying earth and tufts of grass, saying “We have no time for you.”
The Tuscan sunsets were simply indescribable in October and early November.
We had been fortunate to enjoy the sunsets with the mammoth cypress trees framing their Technicolor glory. As the tips of the cypress trees swayed back and forth in the slight breeze, they appeared to be painting the skies, “just a little more red” as the colours changed overhead.
Each sunset had a story of its own to tell as they wrapped Mother Earth and her guests in a coloured blanket for the night.
We had introduced our visiting friends to cena (dinner) at a favorite local Osteria, Osteria Alla Villa located in Villa A Sesta. We simply refer to the Osteria now as “Rodolfo’s”, as Rodolfo is the Proprietor and his lovely and talented wife Angie does all the exquisite cooking.
We had returned to Rodolfo’s especially for the artichoke piccolo torta (small torte) nestled in chicken livers which had been simmered in Vin Santo. The fresh homemade seasonal zucca (pumpkin) filled ravioli with butter sauce made a second round as well as, the osso buco, fresh wild boar stew served over polenta and anatra (duck), with a red wine reduction. The locally produced Chianti Classico Reserva 2012, Villa A Sesta wine accompanied our feast, magnifico!
Amongst the “hmm’s”, “ahs'” and “this is incredible”, I asked Rodolfo why he chooses to live in Tuscany.
He paused and in his deep baritone voice said in English, “I have the best of everything here (food, wine, land, people), I walk out my front door and it is the same, but it is different based on the sky and the colours of the day. Why would I live anywhere else? (Ho il meglio di tutto qui (cibo, vino, terra, persone), esco dalla porta principale ed è lo stesso, ma è diverso in base al cielo e ai colori del giorno. Perché dovrei vivere ovunque altro?)
And so this is the Tuscan effect, where it is possible to look at the same sky and land every day, becoming more enchanted with each breath you take.
It affects those visiting and living here in the same way, it simply takes your breath away.