Italy Letter no. 3

I woke up this morning thinking that I might take a walk into Centro and look around because it was cloudy but not really raining. But once again my day had other plans for me. I took a shower and did my hair and everything (something I seldom bothered with) when Simone F told me that they would be going to the country side where their family houses are just to organise things for the next weekend and if I wanted to come I was welcome. I was a bit unsure of going but I am very glad that I did.
We first went to Simone F’s parents house to pick up the keys. They live in a part of Firenze called Poggio Imperiale, on top of a hill. It is much quieter and private there and the houses have bigger plots with bigger gardens.Their house over looks a lush green little valley were you see a house on a hill every here and there, beautiful. It had just stopped raining so everything was still crisp, fresh and clean. I met Simone F’s parents and we had a quick caffé before leaving.
We listened to typical italian opera and some classical music as we drove past beautiful little house in the more remote parts of Florence on our way to Piandiscò. We had about 20 min of highway on our way there which gave me a chance to see some of the old castles still standing on the hills. It shows you why you see all these beautiful but elaborate villas on top of hills, for the view and the meaning behind it. The places you pass through is so incredibly beautiful that it inspires awe with a twinge of sadness( I have no idea why these views bring tears to my eyes and tugs at my heart, there is nothing sad about it yet I feel sadness weighing down on me). I guess thats what they would call heartbreaking beauty. The hills look as if mother nature has thrown a thick lush blanket over them in these chilly times. The trees were full and heavy while the ground smiles with the abundance of new life spurting all around. It was magical.
Before we reached Piandiscò, we passed through a small town called Vaggio, here you can see the true essence of what it is to be an italian by heart. It has not the outer pretence of fashion and style and elegance of cities like Firenze and Roma but it has a much more basic and natural charm. The country houses we were going to are just just on the other side of Piandisco, a typically stylish little Italian villages which holds a beautiful old pieve (small town church) 1100 BC.
When we reached the right turn of to their place I looked to my left and through the tree i could see all the way down this steep mini canyon that was so lush and green with trees and nature. Their place is beautiful. There are three houses, a big one with three stories then there is a smaller one in a simular style and then next to that one is a beautifully quaint little typical tuscan house. At the side,descending into the canyon, is a path way that leads to an old cellar where they use to store wine. While I was stitting there with my back against the big house, I had the little lush canyon to my left, in front of me I could see fields of olive trees and to my right hand side sat the two smaller houses with a big lawn and soccer field and swimming pool(with a sona) beyond it. The sun had just come out and I basked in the welcome warmth thinking to myself how this place is perfect in its imperfection. The lawn is over grown with daisies and other beautifull plants growing everywhere but it carries effortless grace and natural beauty.
We then go through the houses deciding which is more suitable for the party and of course we settle on the big house. So we start cleaning it and it pleased me greatly to see everyone of us get thoroughly involved with the sweeping, mopping, dusting, moving ect. When we were almost done, Angela started making lunch. They were on a high protein diet but they always keep me in mind when they cook which is extremely nice of them. She made a pasta with tuna, garlic, salt and olive oil; there was a big bowl of salad and then Simone F had made a fire in the fireplace in the kitchen were he then prepared a proper Florence steak(which is famous in Italy for being very rare and very thick) and some delicious sausages. We didn’t have bread because the shops were already closed but we still had our balsamic vinegar and olive oil for the salad. It was an amazing simple meal.
We cleared and chilled in the sun for a while. I found a tennis ball and entertained myself for 30 min by throwing it in the air as high as I can and then catching it again, Simone F wacked some golf balls and other things and Angela went flower picking.
On our way back we stopped at a petrol station were we went to the cafe for some caffe. I politely turned down and espresso and chose to walk around the area a bit but when I met them at the car later they had managed to buy me something in anyway. It was a typical italian biscuit called Cantuccini, they gave me a pack of softer ones and a pack of harder ones for tea. While gobbeling them down in the car on my way back I thought to myself that I will go running tomorrow weither it rains or not.
When we got to Firence it was 4pm so we had an hur to kill before picking Camilla up at 5pm. They then took me to Piazzale Michelangelo, it was on a hill over looking the whole of Firenze. They then took me to San Miniato which was just next door, it was undescribable. You walk up with these big stone staircases on each side which brings you to the courtyard at the churches entrance. As you stand facing the church you have small areas of tombs and lawn and graveyard on you right. To your left you have a little ‘Monk Pharmacy’ as they call it. Inside you have a monk behind the counter with all sorts of aromas drifting around you. There was beautiful mens chior music playing in the back ground and a cookie caught my eye, it was called Bruto Ma Buono (“Ugly but good”). When we walked out there is a passage way just next to the entrance to the shop. It leads you on a beautiful root behind the church towards Piazzale Michelangelo(unfortunately it was closed this day). We the went inside the church. Words fail me. As you step in you tread on a marble grave which is then followed by more and more. The floor exists out of different marble graves and you find yourself treading softly, respecting the dead. High ceilings starting with marble at the bottom but the higher you go the older it gets and the stone walls show face.The walls are covered in paintings of men and the ceilings are covered with stories. We then went further and descended into a Cripta, were the graves of old family bloodlines lie, families like Galileo Galilei. You then go back up and ascend into the meditation chamers for prayers. This was my favorite part of this church. It was dark and the only light that entered was through a beautiful picture window. The walls and ceilings were covered with painted stories and at the bottem along the ground were dark wooden seats where you could snugly and pray in utter silence. The aromas of this place was entrancing and memorable.
We were running late so we rushed out to the car and sped of to fetch Camilla from school. Simone F took a different road called Viale Dei Colli which took us through a old and beautiful part of Florence. We passed from the one side of the city’s centre to the other side through different porta’s. The city centre is surrounded by an old town wall which now has different entry points called potra’s (like a porthole into an unknown world of magic;) ).
When we got home I immediately pulled the laptop out to write an email before i forgot all I had seen. I can now say with absolute certainty that I am head over heels in love with Tuscany.
Last night we had a meal that existed out of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and black bread; Some sort of meat that is sliced into thin slices; Spinach fritata; a salad with fresh leaves, mozzerella, carrots and some other kind of veg; there was steamed asparogus; a whole bowl of fresh mozzerella; A slab of parmason with some apples and pears, last but not least there was a big bowl of chopped strawberries with a dash of sugar.

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