In the first place, it is autumn in Italy. The trees are alight with color; vibrant yellows, golden orange and brilliant reds dot the ends of wily, dark branches. These, the last vestige of the prior season dangle precariously, seemingly reluctant to make departure from their perch, and make way for the season to come. This serves to provide the perfect backdrop to the homes of this area. Multi-tiered villas painted in sunshine yellow, mustard yellow, pale yellow, burnt orange, terracotta, red!, sage, blue, ecru, tan, and muted khaki.. The foliage is a perfect echo of the neighborhood palette.
We are in farmland and the vast fields which just weeks ago must have held startlingly tall corn stalks have been mowed clear, leaving only a trail of broken, dried stems marking the sharp, straight rows planted last spring. Weaving among the rows are scattered the empty cobs of bird consumed corn which remained after harvest. Breathtakingly hopeful, side by side with the decay stand new shoots of green pushing upward from the earth in brave innocence.
In other fields, now empty, the grain sits rolled and ready for transport and the earth is turned and tilled, resting until planting time after the winter.
In the second place, this land is so quiet. Rural Italy has a personality and a timing all its own. Away from the tourist bustle, this seems to be the place to witness Italy the way its lived daily. Having spotted (more than one) 'Nonno' with black fisherman cap tipped forward on his head, cycling down the roadway, trench coat billowing in the breeze, a gathering of villagers engaged in passionate-hand-waving-in-your-face-conversation and dark haired lovers in endless embrace as they wait for the local bus to arrive, I feel like I have been treated to a backstage pass to the quintessential Italian life.
Our "vacation house" is an amazing structure which sits on the estate of Tenuta Castel Venezze in Rovigo, Italy. It is house enough for the five of us and then some. The truth is, I think we all feel this place could work for us in the long term, it would merely require the small sacrifice of chucking out most of our "things" (we have too many anyway!). Imagining a long term life in vacation mode is certainly appealing and I for one, have not excused a single thought along these lines as frivolous or idealistic in the least.
The villa is fully equipped with a lovely sitting room, bedrooms, bathrooms (with bidet!) and a kitchen at least ten times larger than ours at home. We shop in a local supermarket (also ten times larger than what we have at home) and pour over the various pastas, cheeses, meats and breads--making instant menu decisions based on the beautiful things we find on the shelves.
Italian life doesn't seem altogether much different to our own and the kids seem confident that they could adapt to life here without a hiccup, which certainly points to the compelling, romantic, magnetic draw Italy has.
I am snapping hundreds of photographs in the attempt to record the nuance of feeling here. The peaceful residence we share this week, complete with the intoxicating smell of fall flowers on the garden hedge (I desperately wish I knew what it is called. But me and the bees? We adore it!)
Recording by pixel if not by memory I am cataloguing the days in neighboring towns and cities including the epic journey by boat to the city of Venice to walk the streets of that most romantic of destinations.
I understand that I cannot capture all of it on camera nor can I record the thoughts and impressions fast enough to keep them all but I am giving it my best and for what my heart and mind (and my memory card) can't hold I will carry home souvenirs.
Because in the third place? Nothing says Bella Italia like a pair of leather boots.