The lightning storm last week, was fierce, as lightning bolts raced across the blackened Tuscan sky. Without any “unnatural illumination” the magnificent dark sky provided a backdrop for the white streaks of light which could be seen shooting towards the fortified gem of San Gusme (867 BC) and over the glorious 12th century Montebenichi in the hills.
Perhaps the arciere e centauro (archer and centaur) of mythology Sagittarius (half man/half animal) with his bow-laden with fire was trying to bridge the gap between Heaven and Earth?
Many of us fortunate to live in this area would say “being in Tuscany is akin to living in Paradiso in terra (heaven on earth).”
As the accompanying heavy rains blanketed the Casale I could hear the water drops “patter” softly against the terracotta tile roof, the water gurgled loudly as it began to flow heavily down the roof tiles and then madly out the downspout. It was then that I settled in for a blissful night’s sleep.
We awoke to slivers of daylight which were peaking their way through the chestnut shutter left ajar by my husband. I could see my pink geraniums which had flourished in their terracotta pots had their petals strewn like paper confetti over the terrace.
The power was out in the Casale and with soft foot steps, my husband made his way downstairs to push the electrical breaker back on, hoping this would be a simple restart of our day.
As I lay in bed thinking about not having electricity and the impact of starting my day without an Italian caffè, I shivered, pulling my warm blanket further around my neck. With a push of a switch, the electricity was back on and my dream of a morning caffè latte (coffee with milk) would soon be realised.
“Open my heart and you will see engraved inside of it, Italy”. – Robert Browning (wiseoldsayings)
Late October through to the end of November in Tuscany is a quieter time as many international visitors are beginning to leave after indulging in the local wine and food festivals.
The Ecomaratona (Castelnuovo Berardegna) in Octobre (October) having created a buoyant atmosphere with weekend long events, had invariably left participants smiling for future weeks and months.
Our friend Barbara’s son Tom, came in third place in the gruelling Ecomaratona whose 42 km course crosses through the vineyards and olive groves of the Arceno Estate.
Tom proudly had a picture taken wearing his medal with Ethan, a young local enthusiast; Barbara recanted Tom’s glory with such pride.
The sightseeing and pageants near and far (Siena’s 100th year Palio Celebration, Archery Contests in Montalcino etc.) having entertained many a traveller with traditional events, will now see a focus on the upcoming Natale (Christmas) for their local populations.
The land of Tuscany remains filled with ravishing displays of changing colour; golds, reds, and orange as the leaves remain dangling on the tips of the grape vines following vendemmia (wine harvest) and the leaves of the trees have been blown about by the recent winds that circle and dance across the lands of Arceno.
The farmers fields surrounding Villa Di Arceno have taken on various colours of gold, copper, browns and ocher as their harvested crops and re-tilled soil; sits anticipating next years bounty.
The olive trees, iconic cypress trees and umbrella pines take on various shades of green in response to the lowering and changing soft light; I often emit a simple “incredible” as my eyes feast on yet another lavender hued vistas that stretches for miles.
It is a steady and busy time for the Tuscan people as November is when the olive harvests are beginning.
The local Frantoio (olive mills) have begun running day and night as freshly picked olives are trickling their way in for pressing.
The traditional mills of Tuscany used large granite millstones to grind the olives prior to being pressed into olive oil; at Villa Di Arceno entrance there are two such crushing stones retrieved from a neighbour’s property where one millstone still remains. I refer to them as “Mary’s Stones”.
A few weeks ago, Sergio and my husband trimmed the center branches from our olive trees; trying to further redirect nutrients to the olives. My husband presented me with an olive branch (albeit not required) which had a bird’s nest delicately hanging from one end; the bird nest long since empty, is now called “natures art work”, as it is resting contentedly above a “print of art” in the Casale.
Our local olive groves are being covered with olive nets laying at the base of the trees, men can be seen moving the crates and equipment into the groves, indicating the harvest is about to start.
A neighbouring Villa had their olives picked a few weeks ago and the “rumour” is the extra virgin olive oil is of high quality but the quanity will be low again this year; although admittedly the person telling us had not tasted the liquid gold but had heard so.
The heavy rains this week and last brought a halt to those who had started an early harvest, the accompanying heavy winds had olives shooting through the air like bullets as they fell to the ground. Many animals and birds will enjoy this easy found feast which carpeted my herb garden.
With our olive harvest delayed until next week, the extra rain will give our olives a last “drink” and “plump up” the hanging fruit whose taunt skins are waiting for the first finger tips to caress them.
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” – Marcus Aurelius (wiseoldsayings)