It seems that everywhere I turn lately I run into stories about Italy. No surprise, really. There are always stories available on every subject. Often we only see certain ones thanks to whatever is bouncing around in our conscious or subconscious minds. This time one year ago I was packing for a highly anticipated trip to Italy that included stops in Rome, Florence, Venice and Umbria. And that trip, with my partner Cindy at my side, was one of the true highlights of my life. Oh to be in Italy again!
So I was particularly struck the other day when I saw an article in the NY Times written by Helene Cooper (“My Big Italian Dream Party”). It’s a wonderful story about her dinner party at the olive oil estate, La Montagnola, family owned and run by Vittoria Iraci Borgia and her assistant Carmela. We spent a week there, winding down in the Umbrian countryside, after weeks of urban bustle. Strolling through the olive groves, staring off into the beautiful countryside, dotted with small hilltop towns, could be enough of a vacation on its own. But the proximity to Assisi and a host of other “jewels” of small towns turned the visit into a wonderland adventure.
While we didn’t sit through any large dinner parties, as did Helene, we ate very well indeed. Upon our arrival, Carmela presented us with a fresh tin of olive oil that graced every meal. The local food shops were equally wonderful. Often, though, what is far more important, far more memorable, and far more touching, are the smallest of acts. One day, after exploring the nearby towns, we returned to the lovely converted farmhouse we were staying in. As we approached the front door we found sitting there a small vase filled with wild asparagus. Vittoria picked them on the way down from her hilltop palazzo, thinking, rightly so, that they would enhance that evening’s dinner. And they did. It’s the little acts of kindness and thoughtfulness that remain in our hearts – far more than all the art, fine food, or beautiful landscapes.
So, with all that in mind, here are images from La Montagnola and the surrounding areas. Next week more fossils, and many more Italian images in the weeks ahead. But for now a little bit of Umbria.
Thank you for the visit. More images at www.artmurphy.com
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