Here's a wee list of what I liked about Tuscany/Italy. Although I couldn't swap these big blue skies for there, something about hills and walled towns and narrow streets makes me feel hemmed in. I couldn't believe how open the sky felt here when I got back home. The pix in this grid are just quick JPEG snaps, it's too much hassle to try and do fancy stuff in crowded spots.
where we stayed, it was very peaceful valley and I got up at sunrise most days and watched the light paint the vines and the olive groves.
(Also saw deer with fawns in tow and a solitary fox. I explored the woods and saw wild cyclamen growing under the trees and there were lots of scattered walnut trees,and pomegranates and even what I took yo be a wild pear, which had tiny little bullet sized fruit on it.)
Sienna, the cathedral is layered black and white marble and the floors are inlaid with the same materials, the origin of the word "graffiti" comes from black marble inlaid in white.
the road repair men's "portaloos" ( bit like thse ghastly wheelie bin covers you get here that make the bin look like it's covered in plastic ivy) which had great Italian artists' paintings covering them, one was covered in the Mona Lisa, my husband said that's for when you do an enigmatic shite!
the wee pizza place where they gave us kitchen scissors with great solemnity and we realised it was to cut our pizzas into slices.
the Amarretto liqueur, especially on great ice cream.
dining on a terrace up in the hills and watching the sunset behind Pienza.
the geology, the ground is full of fossil shells,as the seabed was forced up millions of years ago to form the Tuscan hills. The area is the origin of the formal study of geology. Ovid wrote about it pre Christ:
Ovid 43 BC – AD17
“Vidi ego, quod fuerat quondam solidissima tellus,
esse fretum, vidi factas ex aequore terras, et procul a
pelago conchae iacuere marinae, et vetus inventa est in
montibus ancora summis.”
(“I have myself seen what was once most solid ground
disappear into the sea, and have heard of land risen out of
the sea; marine shells lay far from the sea, and an ancient
anchor rested on top of a mountain.”)