24 Hours in Tuscan Heaven
I believe that each one of us, whether we know it or not, has one spot that we instinctively run to when we are in desperate need of stability. Part of the deal of being human is that numerous times in our lives, and often unpredictably, we will face moments of chaos, disruption, and just plain confusion. This need not be a bad thing – transitory moments such as these, at least in my experience, have always catalyzed the most impactful changes. Even so, it’s important to have a consistent touch point in our life that will help us breathe meaning into such events.
Tuscany is that special place I know will always be here waiting for me. More specifically, a villa on the outskirts of Chiusi, built from the ground up by a dear friend of my father’s. Whenever I am in need of restoration – for lack of a better word – this is the first place that bubbles up in my mind. For your own sanity and emotional well-being I ask you, reader, to find the place where even 24 hours feels like an eternity. Do not become dependent on an extravagant week long vacation to access it. Do not allow anybody or any other commitment to impede you from reconnecting with yourself.
While I unfortunately cannot offer you this exact spot as refuge, I can tell you why Tuscany is an extraordinary place to visit. Tuscany must be experienced holistically – there is nothing specific to see here, other than everything. Allow it to seep into your soul and you will find that the land has regenerative properties. It’s probably not cheaper than therapy, but it’s a much nicer office.
Tuscany has taught me to sit still and just breathe.
Quite simple in theory, but particularly difficult when you are a programmed city bot. Our default settings are “go” and “conquer.” Tuscany is slow in all senses of the word: there is nowhere to rush to, fruits and vegetables will ripen when it’s the right season, and you can forget about WiFi. You can’t make things happen. They just will when they’re good and ready.
What there is left to do is to enjoy the moment. Lie in the grass and cloud watch. Trace the constellations in the star-speckled sky. Listen to the wind weaving through infinite rows of vines. Taste the morning dew droplets dotting the petals of your favorite flower. Spend 10 minutes studying a snail make its slow trek across a stair step, because hell, it’s not like anyone is waiting for you.
Organic and fresh isn’t a trend here, it’s an expectation. It is not uncommon to find residents who grow and trade most of what they eat. Fruit is picked from trees, milk and cheese comes from local cows, and vegetables are lovingly grown in neighbors’ gardens. All for an incredibly reasonable price. Needless to say, the quality of the food puts Whole Foods to shame. What is most admirable is the deep respect that people have for all that is alive. Tuscans grows a myriad of vegetation for both commercial and personal purposes, yet each product is treated with love and care. And you can taste it.
If you open your mind, you will quickly learn to overcome the superficiality of everyday life. Tuscany fosters an environment where you can really discuss what matters to you without coming off as a pompous yuppie. Countless times I’ve had deep conversations about spirituality, the secret life of plants, and the fickleness of an over-consuming career. Mind you, these topics would probably land you on a social blacklist in a crowded New York bar. Here, there is no one to impress. What you can gain by discovering those intricate, thoughtful parts of yourself you’ve long left dormant, however, is priceless.