Saturday, May 21, 2011

Il Cuore Verde

Umbria is known as the Green Heart of Italy and it's no wonder it inspired Henry James to write about Italy so memorably.  James was particularly inspired by the Umbrian towns of Assisi, Perugia, Cortona (more on that in a sec) and Arezzo. 
James wrote that Italy was, "the most beautiful country in the world" and his writing was inspired, in part, by not only the beauty of Italy and Umbria in particular, but by it's people.  He recommends in an article he wrote for the Atlantic Monthlyin 1861 that travelers must, "ignore the dream of haste, walking everywhere very slowly and very much at random." 
If we had been in a car careening through this small hill town, we would have missed this beautiful fresco on the outside of a building.  It is stunning. 

Or this beautiful garden........

Although James didn't write as extensively about the people in Italy as much as he did about the sights, his advice to take it slow and easy or as my grandmother used to tell me, "piano, piano"..... you will miss the gentle nod of the head and "buon giorno" as you walk into a shop, or the laughter of children at play (a lot of soccer balls!) the men playing cards outside the gelateria, or the hand of friendship extended after a glass of wine, or a meal.  These are all things that make Italy a place to be savored, not dots on a map to be connected in 4 days or a week.  This is a place where your inner clock can slow down and recharge by just being Italiano
Oh, and about Cortona;  Although Frances Mayes wrote her book, Under the Tuscan Sun from her home in Cortona, there are parts of Cortona that are actually in Umbria, and a book called "Under the Umbrian Sun" wouldn't have sold nearly as many copies as hers did.   Although Cortona is a beautiful little citta, it is overrun with tour buses and touristi looking to recreate the book or movie in their lives. 

Last but not least, the food!  A simple plate of prosciutto di Norcia with melon and a crisp white wine are just the thing for a perfect summer need to reinvent the wheel here, this is a classic, and it's always a winner!

Wishing you a weekend filled with sunshine and joy. 

No comments:

Post a Comment