Tag Archives: Creative Living

A visit to the Tuscan Heart, Florence

Another day and another trip away from the Tuscan villa a.k.a. the bolthole. Today it was into the beating heart of Tuscany and the birthplace of the renaissance, Florence. Also the home of Michelangelo’s ‘David’, Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’ and da Vinci’s ‘Annunciation’. I may need to get this out early in case I disappoint you. We went to Florence on this day and we didn’t visit any of these! No. Nessuna. Nienta.  But don’t worry I’ve seen them before … twice. On this day we simply wandered, ate and breathed in Florence.

You may see a theme evolving in our Italian trip. Food. And gelato. And contented smiles. Italians have worked it out you see. They know that pleasure and happiness is tied to enjoying the simple pleasures of life. Convivial times and food that comes from close to home and is cooked traditionally, simply and with heart. And of course they are fortunate in that everywhere they wander there is art in all its forms. From the architecture to the vineyards, Italy is purely romantic poetry for the soul. It is hard not to be in love with every second in Italy.

The Pizza Della Signoria, the Florence Cathedral and Ponte Vecchio all relatively empty. I have never experienced Florence in this way. Florence is so mind blowing of course it doesn’t matter who you share it with, but on this quiet day I took some very long, very deep breaths. I also ran into an Aussie friend on the Ponte Vecchio. Right now the world doesn’t feel small but in this magical brief moment of coincidence the world again felt small.

I danced with love today in Florence. For those of you who know us and me you will know Italy lives in our hearts and home. (Complete with the pizza oven.) Even writing here now I feel my heart flutter with a yearning. Perhaps it is curiosity. If I was 20 I’d take a year in Italy. I didn’t know of the possibilities then. I don’t want to lose this feeling. I’m nervous about when I return. Home to Holland where the food can’t be compared, where the cities, language, culture and landscape don’t captivate my spirit in this way! Where I’ll again be confronted with the realities of the current state of the world.

‘As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you.’ – Anthony Bourdain.

I feel the familiar stirrings of change. Of considering what needs to stay and what needs to be let go. Of missing what’s familiar and still craving what’s exciting. Of knowing I still have many chapters to write in this story of my life. That there is some stagnation inside that needs to be broken down so the flow of creativity and curiosity (the life blood) can be free. The marks of travel – the reminders, the peeling back.

Florence lives in us now. And also on one of our dining room walls. In the form of a little piece of Tuscan inspired art, bought on the street from an artist. After this day in Florence my eight year old declared ‘this is my favourite city in the world’. His siblings agreed. My job is done ;) Perhaps I won’t take them to Florence again. It seems a nice way to leave it for them to remember. I will of course come back. Maybe I’ll hike in one day. I’d particularly like to see the Botticelli again and breath in the Florence air. Dreaming is of course my air, my lungs are full. Full of Florence magic.

Walking Through The Tuscan Hills.

 

Many years ago, perhaps 16 or so we traveled through Italy with our then six month old baby boy. He’s our nearly 16 yo delightful lad now! We stopped a few days in Tuscany during this Italy trip with the baby and stayed at an old villa with big Tuscan style rooms and a shared kitchen. In this shared kitchen we met walkers! Walkers of all ages who’d spent their days wandering the hills of Tuscany. Their nights were spent stopping along the way in these shared style accommodation guest houses eating and chattering.

Our villa is along the way of a walk called Via di Francesco. Also we’re right by the town of Poppi. This is funny to my family as pop is my childhood nickname. Pop is the Dutch for doll. My dad called me poppi! Dolly. You do know I like a coincidence. :)

Most days I walk to the right of my front door and head up the hill. I’m drawn to a good climb. On this day, however, I went left. Left in the fierce heat (with water and a visor) to see what I could see. In search of, and open to the treasure. There is always trasure.

Each step in the heat blissfully rewarded with wildflowers, farmland, nature and peace. The kind of peace walking allows you in its gentle rhythmic, meditative way. Yes I could feel those mozzie bites (all 500 of them), and yeah it was hot and sweaty, and yes a bit of hmm I wandering alone in a far away land, but also just the beauty of the trail and me.

‘Solvitur Ambulando – It Is Solved By Walking.’

Remember this one friends. It’s one of my favourites. And one I think can help us in these crazy times. Walking creates the space to wonder. Space to flip the circuit if we’re stuck in thoughts. It’s an invitation to notice the happenings of the season, the time. It’s a way for our minds to gently process on its own in the background, while we can be lost in the world of ‘doing the noticing’.

On this day I did realise how much I do love to walk these long walks across countries. I would like to make time for these when the time allows us again. A long camino is not in my life space/timing right now. But days, possibly a week here and there, yes. I would definitely love to do some walking across Tuscany.

I’d like to do it with a friend I’ve decided. I’ll be seeking the ‘hers’ who love to hike when I return. I’d like to be one of those walkers who arrives at a guest house after a day’s wandering and debriefing the fun, laughing at the challenges and eating the local food. When I find her, I’ll be asking ‘her’ if she’d like to go for some days of walking through hills. I think in these times we need to know our ‘hers’ ladies. And we do need to walk with ‘her’, so do ask her if you need a walk or talk.

#stillwriting

#beenadventuring

#beenexploring

#catchingup

The Simplicity Of Tuscany.

It all begins when the shutters are opened and the morning arrives into the room. Waking with the sweet luxury of not knowing or needing to know the time. There was a hint it was later than it felt but only if you looked. Sun visible through edges of the window frames. Each day here in Tuscany I’m reminded of  a certain way of living, of choosing a life of simplicity. Of where I can cut back further.

Breakfast.

Lunch.

Dinner.

Three meals. Fresh salad. Vegetables picked from a jar. Meat finely sliced. Mostly local. Perhaps not the avocado. All three with the same condiments. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Italian), Balsamic Vinegar (Modena, from the closest province) pepper and salt.

I ask you this question … if you could choose two condiments other than salt and pepper what would they be? For me these two are it. The excess on the plate is soaked with local day old bread. Hard because preservatives are not added.

An afternoon aperitivo to relax into the time between when the day is finished and the evening starts. Another day of writing. A chapter added. Twenty eight to go. I can do it though. I showed myself. Today is the 30th day of blog writing, little letters in your inbox.

Not all days are smooth there was a double wasp sting last night. Me. Painful, I share this with you. Painful. Glad for ice treats in the freezer to numb the bites. Watch where you sit in Tuscany I warn you. All resolved now, just the mozzie bites still itch.

Once I publish this post the evening will begin. The time to tidy, organise, sit, chat and eat. It’s a bbq tonight. The music will play and the joking about when mum sat on a wasp, screamed and ripped her clothes off will begin!

I am glad for simple things. For a live of simplicity.  For having the courage to let go of the guilt I used to feel when I used my time to write. It’s a beautiful hobby and it is this hobby that brought this dream of simplicity to us.

#writingstreak

#day30of31

#choosesimplicity

#itallstartedthere

 

 

 

Sun Kissed In Tuscany.

Behind the brown shutters are windows and doors with bright red frames. Opening these are how a sun kissed morning begins in Tuscany. Closing them after a long and late night spent eating and chatting is how evenings in Tuscany end.

Food that is grown under kiss of the sun makes for a perfect lunch. There’s a flavour that can’t be ignored. And a reminder of how simple one’s lunch can be.

Herbs for the kitchen, grown in the  garden are illuminated by the kiss of the sun.

A healthy glow and contented manner,  the evidence of a sun kissed boy’s day of play.

A house built to withstand the kiss of the sun. Terracotta tiles on the floor and in the ceiling, thick walls of concrete and brick archways.

The kiss of the sun willing a writer to write on. A day spent in the first 13,000 words of a story. A memoir of a long walk and a time leading towards this life now. A time where questions were asked, actions were taken and the leap of faith that happened. The Tuscan sun enabling the needs of all to be met and comfort to the writer when the doubts set in. The power of his kiss is strong. Write, write he assertively guides. Now is the time. It matters not if the written words see me, the light of day. It matters they are written. That the writer writes the story. For her. Her story.

 

*edited to change her to him, my instinct was that the sun is a more masculine energy and a little note from a friend confirmed this. xx

#writingstreak

#day29/31

#writingon

#writingthrough

#writing

#ishibernationcalling

#thewindsarechanging

 

 

 

From My Tuscan Desk.

A butterfly continues to fly by trying to land on me. The cicadas are putting on a symphony, the children are squealing with delight and I think I found myself in the perfect setting. The setting for a little plan I’ve had brewing for some time. Ha ha no not to move here, I’ve changed. I promise. I no longer want to live everywhere but I do want to try a new thing for myself. Nothing new there! Lol. But a hard thing, something that requires some dedication. Tuscany friends, if a dream can’t be birthed here I’m not sure it ever can!

It was a rather clever idea of the husband’s to drive the bulk of the drive yesterday. We had an early start this morning and arrived into the local village of Bibbiena around 10.30am. Enough time to pick up some bread and supplies. Oh my the fruit! The fruit. So much colour and so much fresh choice. We drove in past the fields so it doesn’t surprise me of course. Lush verdant fields with rows and rows of produce. Not that the boys noticed from their lounge room in the backseat. New road trip food tip – breakfast banana in a wrap.

 

Our villa is everything we expected. A lush vista over the valley, fresh warm air, stunning sun, colour and solitude. Apart from the children and the cicadas of course. Spaces everywhere, for everyone. Yes, this is the bolthole we knew we needed but waited for a few weeks to decide on! It’s lush and also it’s characteristically rustic inside (read: old and charming). But you don’t get something this big and affordable without compromise. After half a day I totally get the dark, brick Tuscan cave! It works in this heat. The outside though, wow, with the little beautiful touches.

It’s not a tour the country kind of holiday. It’s time away, get some vitamin D, playtime for the children, yummy food, time for family, time to ‘be’ and laughs. Always the laughs. At Jimmy mostly. And Tommy he is a bit of a funny cat when he shows his humorous side. Greggie is working this week. He has settled nicely into a corner of the house with the big old desk. Best line today, Greggie “but how good is the prosciutto” lol. “Dude, it’s Italy !?!” Eye roll 🙄.

Me I’m out on the terrace. I’m also sort of working. I’m writing. Yes, yes I am. It’s a bit of a story as to how this has all come together. None of this planned at the start of the month. And yet here I am. With an evolving plan falling into place. It’s nice to be away, not to be in need of the break but in need of space and this moment of opportunity. A moment built on the momentum of these past months. A luxury. A time for each of us be in our own rhythms.

#writingstreak

#day28/31

#underthetuscansun

#amwriting