A few minutes’ walk from our village—down one hill and up another—is an old convent that’s been converted into an albergo, a rustic inn. Its name is Giardino della Luna, or Garden of the Moon—an oblique reference to Lunigiana, this hill-and-dale region at the northern tip of Tuscany, which is studded with little medieval villages and their churches, convents, and castles.
All posts tagged: From the Stone House
From the Stone House: Among the Olives
I have a friend who says he simply cannot trust somebody who doesn’t like garlic. Though I wouldn’t go that far, I’m taken aback when someone spurns an olive.
To me, olives are the most sublime of all things pluckable from a tree—and what a tree it is, l’ulivo, with those feathery silver-green leaves that shimmer in sunlight, glint in brisk winds, glimmer after rain… The slender branches are extremely strong yet flexible; they don’t mind a good stiff shake. The bark of an olive tree is gorgeous, too, with a patina of silver that softens its rough grey-brown wrinkles. Then there are the tree’s roots—admirable contortionists, able to twist around big rocks and support trees canted at odd angles on steeply terraced hills.
From the Stone House: Reading Stevie Smith in Milan
Beauty is overrated. Beauty is underrated.
Three months ago, shortly after moving to Italy for the year, I was walking along via Montenapoleone in Milan, gazing at lovely summer togs and shoes in the shops (beauty is overrated?), when I nearly stumbled into a bearded man wearing dirty shorts and old sneakers. He sat spread-legged on the sidewalk, an empty, leaning-Tower-of-Pisa paper cup between his knees. Not the right street for such begging, I found myself thinking—too upscale, everyone carrying credit cards rather than change. Nobody wanting to be bothered, what with the insufferable humidity and all the gorgeous distractions in the shop-windows.
From the Stone House: On Belonging
As the crow flies, Montereggio is perhaps a dozen kilometers from Castiglione del Terziere, my Italian home for a year. But Lunigiana—this northern part of Tuscany, between the Emilian plain and the Mediterranean Sea—is so hilly that I never know how many dizzying switchbacks a road might boast, thus how long it’ll take to get from A to B. (Or how many times en route our car will have to edge past another coming at it. Sometimes both vehicles must fold in their side-mirrors like wings so as to squeeze by.)