Here are my impressions, transcribed more or less verbatim, that I recorded after arriving at the Villa Ducci near San Gimignano.
I am sitting on Marla’s terrace overlooking the towers of San Gimignano. Marla is the name of the main character in the 21st Century part of the novel. This is definitely her place. The view is panoramic – the towers of San Gimignano to the left on a hill then sweeping to the right – vineyards and olive groves, pointy, dark green cypresses, white clouds hovering over the deep blue hills at the horizon.
On the hillside is a jumble of red roofed houses. A six story hotel block adds a jarring note of modernity.
The hotel is deserted at 2 in the afternoon, but they have kindly said I could order lunch from my table on the terrace. I order ravioli with truffle sauce and when it arrives, I am transfixed–too overcome by the aromas to even pick up the fork. I smell a combination of fresh butter, cream, garlic, and something sweet and slightly off – the truffles.
And then the first taste – fresh raviolis coated with sauce studded with fresh herbs and pepper. Piping hot – just made. The flavours are almost overwhelmingly good – melt in the mouth, leaving traces of intense flavor that make me want to swoon. Slightly sweet taste of the truffles – I’ve never really had truffles before and so if this is what truffles taste like then sign me up. To say they taste sweet doesn’t quite capture it because it is a sweetness tempered by an odd earthiness that has never seen a chemical. No wonder people pay small fortunes for fresh truffles.
The sun is warm but not hot – really just perfect. Every so often a breeze wafts in from the east, rustling the leaves of the trees and cooling warm skin. The leaves are still green – not really a hint of autumn yet.
At 3:30 pm, the towers in the distance look split down the middle – strong dark shadows to the left as I face them – the western sun sharply defining one side. The shadows grow deeper as the sun goes lower.
From here only eight of the twelve towers are visible – two main clusters. How must the town have looked in 1350 when it sprouted 72 towers?
It is very quiet except for muted whooshes of cars on the main road and the sound of the staff talking in the kitchen. Bursts of staccato Italian, laughter. I hear birds, the rustling of trees in the wind, the creaking of large umbrella shading my table.
After my amazing lunch accompanied by a liter of sparkling water (how do they get it to taste so good?), I did some writing, took a walk around the grounds, and generally chilled out. Time now for dinner, which I am hoping will be as good as the lunch. I can’t see why it wouldn’t be!
Tonight I really must work on the novel and take a break from blogging. The trouble is that it’s much easier to blog than to write fiction–or at least I find it more challenging.