Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Little Home Away from Home

Something that my mom mentioned to me before I left for Italy was how surprised I was going to be to find how similar the Tuscan landscape looks to the rolling hills of central Texas. Since I grew up in Austin and work at a summer camp near Kerrville, I am no stranger to the Texas hill country…it’s the view I spend every camp meal staring at. I was doubtful as she told me this because all I could think was “there’s no way that Tuscany, the landscape that some of the most famous painters in all of history have studied and painted, could even remotely be compared to Texas. I mean, I have a LOT of Texas pride but let’s be honest…it’s ITALY. Boy was I wrong though, because that’s all I could think as I took
in that breathtaking view from the top of the main piazza that first day on our tour. We, as residents of Castiglion Fiorentino, have the pleasure of being located on top of a decent-sized hill and can get a 360-degree view of hills in every direction, like standing in the middle of a bunt-cake pan. No matter where I look, I am staring at the Texas hill country.
It’s soothing to me in more ways than one. First of all, it reminds me of my Texas. Secondly, there is a very present unity to all of the hills. The landscape is a hundred different shades of green; the silvery, light green of the olive trees, the dark, sharp contrast of the cypress trees, the rich green of the stone pines, the yellow-green of the magnolias, the list goes on and on. This particular color scheme is very relaxing, I have found. Your eyes are drawn to the splashes of orange and brown of the roof tiles sprinkled throughout the landscape. The beautiful, messy hodgepodge of trees is contrasted by the distinct, sharp lines created by the rows of grape vines and tree nurseries. Additionally, the vertical lines of the Cypress trees contrast the bushiness of the stone pines. What I love most about this landscape though is that is is not intended to be garden-like even though it possesses so many of the aspects of gardens that we have discussed in lecture. It doesn’t really try to be beautiful, but it achieves its beauty through its wild and naturalistic theme. There is a quote from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty that I really like. “Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.” I love this quote because it has proven to be so true all throughout my trip. Even the most unassuming things—the side of a building or a tiny potted succulent garden in front of someone’s home—urge me to take a picture of it. This is what I think about as I look at the hillside out the window, sitting in the cafĂ© and writing this post. For something that was never cultivated and pruned into beauty, it sure leaves me in awe.
I know I will have such a different view of the rolling Texas hills when I get home. I will stare at them and let it take me back to my time here, my home away from home. Signing off for the last time from Tuscany, grazie and Gig ‘em.

Quincy Barton

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