Thursday, May 10, 2007

L'italia e fantastica!

Can I tell you what an amazingly wonderful time I had? Well, not today (I have to return to the studio grind and work on the next book cover that is due next week) - but I *will* post a smattering of photos and enthuse a bit over the most fabulous trip I've ever taken.

Everything was fascinating to look at - from the fields of bright red poppies or rows of grape vines or rounds of olive trees contrasted by spires of cypress, or just rolling fields and winding roads.

This was the incredible view outside of our balconied window in Siena (you can just see the Duomo bell tower up on the right) where we were awakened by a chorus of church bells in the morning.

But as much as the country and the cityscapes were beautiful, probably my favorite thing was the proliferation of tiny, medieval towns that studded the hill tops in Eastern Tuscany where we stayed for the bulk of the time. All stone streets, archways and towers...

...and ornamentation of every sort! Ceramic tiles, or pots of geraniums outside a perfectly picturesque door. Frescoes and carvings in every church (and we poked into every church we could find!) Patterned stone and brick in the walls or the streets - everything!

And beyond the man-made ornament was the naturalistic - fantastical cords of ancient ivy that encased the crumbling hill-top castle we climbed to view. Wildflowers and flowering trees on every side - next to tiny, and beautifully orderly vegetable gardens tucked into the most unexpected spaces. Foothills and mountains rolling away as far as eye could see....

And the art! Beyond the chapel frescoes (which were astonishingly beautiful) there were paintings and sculpture and buildings and statuary and niches and fountains and porticoes - more than one could possibly absorb in so short a time!

Even the tiny, renovated mulino that we stayed in with my sister and her family in between our excursions was beautiful - and my artist relations are adding to the environs as this example of slate 'fairy houses' and free-standing stone bridge built by my brother-in-law right above the rocky stream attest to! (Check out their blog for a few more adventures and photos of our stay).

But I must say that the thing that made it all the most wonderful was the inclusion of my 'fairy nieces'. To experience the wonder of tadpoles, castles and daily gelato runs through their eyes made it all the more magical.

I've decided that *that* is the most wonderful way to travel! Stay with someone who knows the environs (and is preferably on vacation as well!) so that you can experience the place at a much more local and intimate level. It couldn't have been better! Although I have decided that my limit is about 10 days. But I'm already anxious to plan my *next* excursion! Maybe the UK this time? (I know British Air is running some pretty impressive specials right now, especially for the end of Sept-October. Anyone interested in an American houseguest for a few days in the fall? :-) I'm itching for more!!)

I must get back to real life and my work schedule - but I will try to post more specifics and a few more of the many hundreds of pictures I took over the next several days.

I hope you have all fared well in the last couple of weeks, and I look forward to reading about your adventures as well. Here's to la dolce vita!


Soozcat said...

Woot! Oh what a delicious vacation you seem to have had. (Deserved it, too.)

natural attrill said...

Wonderful photos, glad you had a good time. Nice to visit here again!
(Tried your link to family blog but didnt work, but perhaps thats just me)
Good luck with your next illustration job.

Tom Kidd said...

Welcome back! The pictures are stunningly beautiful. Artists make the best photographers. I'm thinking of starting a separate photo and friends' art blog.

One day, as you suggested, I will make one of those painting-in-action things. I don't know how to do it but that's never stopped me. Too often people say, Tom, you clearly have no idea of what you're doing or where you're going. That's how I surprise myself. It's not always a nice surprise though.

Tom Kidd said...

PS: I've got a new face. It's likely to change again.

PG said...

Oh what gorgeous photos...I want more! Those dear little houses. It is good to have you back. You are always more than welcome to stay with us, if you don't mind slumming it, we don't have a spare room, just the downstairs room. (I'll stop using up your comments and mail you tomorrow)

I'm just off to bed, left you a note on the cam,

dinahmow said...

Welcome home! I knew you'd love it.
Tara, I know life is prettty hectic, but are you up for a tag? I need 7 artists who've not already been hit in this one.Say no if you are too busy.
I'm coming back later to drool over your pics...with some pane di casa and a glass of de Bortoli!

cinderelly said...

what adorable girls! it looks like it was all so beautiful. i have always wanted to go to italy...i'll go via your photos for now, which are lovely by the way!

Daisy Lupin said...

Welcome home, the photos, right from the first one have me totally captivated! What wonderful location and scenery. Looking forward to seeing more.

tongue in cheek said...

How beautiful! Your photos tell of the perfect place to feel paradise. I bet you felt its power under your feet. I couldn't agree more with you about, staying with someone who knows the area.
Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
Welcome home .

Ash said...

Delighted that you had such a fantastic time - and richly deserved by all accounts. Look forward to more pics but think seriously about a wee trip to the Scottish Borders in the autumn - we'll find room and a very welcoming chocolate labrador!

weirdbunny said...

Wow. wow and wow !!! What wonderful photo's of clearly what was a fantastic holiday !!!

Those tiny slate houses afe fantastic, I want to go outside and make some right now.

If you can fit Wales into your Uk trip, we are part of the uk, a little country that adjoins Englad then I'd love too have you !

So glad your back, you have been missed - love Julia x

(Is that a photo of you next to that big head ? If so your the image of my friend kath .)

CJ said...

So glad you're back and rejuvenated! Hey, we can offer you a room over the loch if you can squeeze a day or so in up here in Scotland! Everyone (all your UK blog friends)will want you to visit...hopefully our gallery will be finished by the fall ;) Love the photo's and those beautiful little fairy nieces of yours. The tiny slate dwellings are magical and the views are stunning!!! I was also wondering if that's you with the head? How did they manage to cast that...I'm assuming its bronze?

natural attrill said...

Hello, got thru to your sisters blog, thanks, and left you a note on our blog!

tlc illustration said...

Thanks for the invites guys. Beware - because I very well may take you up on it!

Weirdbunny - yes - that is me. For some reason it seemed appropriate to pose by the Great Big Head (did anyone ever watch "Third Rock from the Sun"?)

Maya said...

Welcome back Tara :D Your trip to Bologna sounds absolutely wonderful and the pics make me feel almost like i've experienced the scenery my self :)Your nieces are lovely!!


Naturegirl said...

Breathtakingly beautiful!!OMG you were in Tuscany Italy.. saw a faerie house.. so much I dream of!!!LoVe these photos! Thank You!
Welcome home I wondered where you were! Missed you! hugs NG

Bendtherulz said...

I found the first pic so beautiful - and loving all the tales of the trip !!

Well - I can invite you only to