The Daydream that is Tuscany

The Daydream that is Tuscany

Is Tuscany a place or an outlook?  To arrive in Tuscany is to ease into a slower pace of life.  It is to stop rushing, to take the time to look and to savor, to spend time over meals worth eating to enjoy the wine and conversation and to let the world go on without you.  For whatever time you are fortunate enough to spend in Tuscany, know that you will cease to be the person you are at home, at work, or even in your own head.

For me Tuscany begins with the countryside and the way it flows and folds, curves, rises and gently falls.  Even the landscape is not rushed.  The countryside is the land of the farmers sewing winter wheat, the vintners caring for their vines, the olive trees shaken to give up their fruit and the comfy life found in a villa.

Growing organically out of the land are the hill towns, constructed of local Tuscan stone, often walled for protection from rival city-states in a time when such defensives had meaning.  The hill towns are of the shopkeepers, the artisans, the restauranteurs, the local governments, the professionals.  Service is attentive but not rushed as if to hurry someone along would be to insult them.  Even the heavily touristed towns retain an air of gracious courtesy.  Impatience seems reserved for driving . . .

Unless I am in a broad landscape like Patagonia or Denali, I become attracted to details.  Tuscany was no except with its kaleidoscope of old buildings, rustic doors, handsome door knockers, sweet ceramics and parade of autumn colors.  Sometimes a scene looked so old, so classic that it begged to be shared in a monochromatic palette.  This was particularly striking in Pisa.  Its historic buildings look like postcards from the 1950s.

If you follow this link, you will come to a menu of photographs arranged as the aspects of Tuscany seem to want to be.  You might want to view them in sequence or not.  Each one begins with descriptive text followed by photographs.  The photographs may or may not be titled, depending on whether each one had something extra to say.  You can see or drop the text with the photo by hovering over it. 

If you have been to this heavenly part of our world, may you have fond recollections; if you have not, then enjoy this experience and be tempted to save your pennies.

Ciao! Jayne

The Mysterious Hebrides

2 Comments

The Mysterious Hebrides

The Hebrides lure visitors with moody skies, atmospheric landscapes and freedom to explore.  Join Jayne Menard on this photograph journey of this alluring and precious place.

2 Comments

The Charm of the Cotswolds -- Three Iconic Villages

The Charm of the Cotswolds -- Three Iconic Villages

Built of stone, slate, clay and thatch, the historic Cotswolds are enriched by a juxtaposed legacy of cozy charm, exquisite gardens and majestic country homes that complement the softly rolling land and the scenic views from the western escarpments.  Formal manor houses and towns nestle as easily into its countryside as hamlets, fields and meandering rivers and streams.

 Ducks swim in the River Windrush early in the morning.

Ducks swim in the River Windrush early in the morning.

With artifacts that date to Neolithic man, through the Iron Age, to the Holy Roman Empire, into the Middle Ages, and on to the rise, peak and decline of the wool industry, a wealth of variety may be found in the Cotswolds. Full of charm, whimsy and allure, the Cotswolds are a second home to me.  Yet as with any ancient place, here and there an abrupt pocket of sadness or eeriness echoes from the past. The rainbow of auras live in the fabric of its patchwork fields as well as in the gaps between its strong, enduring stone structures, bridges and walls.

 

 View of the Northern Cotswolds from Snowshill Manor Garden

View of the Northern Cotswolds from Snowshill Manor Garden

Nowhere have the edifices of man done more to compliment the countryside than in the Cotswolds, as if the land itself dictated what to construct, the materials to be used and the form to be taken. Rather than creating scars and ugly sprawls on the pristine landscape, the people of the Cotswolds live in harmony with the land that falls into their trust. The culture is one of caretaking and giving.  Pride in what is local helps to preserve the dignity of the rich, yet subtle landscape.  The soul of the Cotswolds seems at peace.

In this month’s collection of travel photographs, you will find three iconic villages in the Cotswolds.  Burford is the gateway to the Cotswolds, welcoming visitors, returning travelers and inhabitants into its warm, bustling ambiance.  Burton-on-the-Water has been called the Venice of the Cotswolds where the River Windrush meanders its way along, crossed by picturesque low arched bridges.  Broadway is furthest north and, like Burton-on-the-Water, is candy-box cute.  I find the most appeal in each of these villages when tourists have drifted away and I can walk quietly with my camera, take photographs and see the villagers out to run errands, chat casually or head for a drink at the pub. 

Surrounding the villages are rolling fields of patchwork green, stands of trees, and narrow lanes where I meander happily for hours by foot or car, wandering from one pretty view to the next.  While flat areas and dramatic edges of the escarpment do exist, I think of the Cotswolds as sloped fields of greenery, freshly plowed soil and bright yellow canola fields in mid-spring.

With this update on the Cotswolds, a change has been made in the way photos display on the Places that Speak website.  For the most part, the titles will only be visible if your mouse is hovered over the photo.  This will allow maximum screen space for each photograph. 

Click the map at the left to see this introduction to the Charm of the Cotswolds.