I sit at a small desk next to an open window in my yellow room and write. The only sounds I hear are a bird twittering off to my right, the occasional crow of a late rising rooster, the quiet clinking of crockery on the terrace below me as the late rising guests finish their breakfasts, and, occasionally, the intrusion of cars speeding past. When I look over my shoulder to the open window I see a heart-stopping view—a Tuscan hillside striped with vineyards and dotted with round leafy trees. Morning shadows throw each individual tree into sharp relief. The few patches of bare earth are red-brown—the same color as the tiles of the roof below the small terrace just outside my window—my own private terrace separate from the main terrace. Behind the first large green hill is another stretch of hills, mist still whisping in pockets, and then beyond that a long, low ridge of soft blue—the mountains to the south.
If I stand up and lean out my window I see the hill leading to the towers of San Gimignano. In the morning sun, the towers are blank grey against a light blue sky. At dawn, the towers were black against a soft orange sky that turned yellow then red and finally very light blue. Every few minutes I want to take another picture to track the progress of the towers as the day progresses. At 4:30 in the morning when I was up and writing for awhile, the towers were still floodlit—eerie yellow columns against a black horizon. A clear starry sky arched overhead—the stars of Orion were brighter than I have ever seen them.
My dinner last night did not come up to the standards of the lunch so tonight I will find a place to eat in San Gimignano. Fortunately, the not so great meal was accompanied by a lively conversation with two Hungarian men who sat next to me. One was a young man Julia’s age with a British accent and the other an older guy, closer to my age. When asked, he informed me that he certainly remembered the years of communism, which the young man of course did not. They were both very friendly and as the evening progressed we had a great discussion about world politics, US policies, how Europe is really doing, etc. Their opinion was that Europe is doing just fine, that it is the true powerhouse of the world, and that the American press is blowing out of proportion the problems with the Euro.
The older guy informed me that he hoped to visit Vancouver one day and would be visiting “a little island near Vancouver.” Yes – he was talking about Bowen Island! Apparently he has colleagues in Vienna where he works that have family on Bowen Island. He told me the name but I didn’t recognize it. Anyway, small world. I should give him a card for the gallery before he leaves!
Breakfast was fortunately much better than dinner. So far, it beats the other hotel breakfasts I’ve had on this trip and is in the running for best hotel breakfast anywhere. Lots of fresh prosciutto, salami, four kinds of cheese, hard boiled eggs, and the usual assortment of cakes, fruits, and cereals, and, of course, cappuccino. As usual, I ate too much.
Fortunately, I should be able to burn some of the excess calories off during the long, long walk into San Gimignano that I will be embarking on as soon as I finish my morning quota of the novel (just taking a break to blog!). I am rather hoping that one of the guests will see me setting off and offer me a lift, but if not, I will need to be prepared for a good 30 minute walk uphill—if not longer. The woman who picked me up assured me the walk was just 20 minutes but perhaps if you are an Olympic athlete. I’m no stranger to walking but I can’t say it looks like a stroll!
I just took a quick break to go downstairs to get another cappuccino. I would like to be writing out on the terrace in the sunshine but I can’t see the screen outside. Here in my room it is very quiet and free of distractions, which on the one hand is good for concentration, but on the other is a bit lonely! I’ve always worked well in crowded locations.
The Villa Ducci is full according to the gorgeous young woman who appears to run the place. I find the mixture of people interesting – about 90% European. I’ve heard just two other English-speaking groups. One is a couple from Hamilton, Ontario who most of the time are speaking Dutch to their friends and the other is a small family that I think might be American judging from the accent. Otherwise, everyone else appears to be Italian, Dutch, German, French, or … Hungarian. I love Europe!
Later in the morning: I managed 1800 words (the most yet!) and so now it’s off to San Gimignano with me. I have so much to look for as part of my research. I plan to stay all afternoon and into the evening. Even from my room I can see the glint of hundreds of cars winding up the hill so I know it will be very crowded there. I’m hoping things start to thin out by the later afternoon.