Friday, May 29, 2009

La natura e l'arte di Dio

Dante writes La natura e l’arte di Dio (nature is the art of God).

You can see the storm coming in for miles.  Like most things in Italy it is a gradual build-up.  But when it hits it is as fierce as they come.  Perched high atop a Tuscan hill the view from where I sit is exceptional.  The valley seems to have been decorated by a master artisan.  The clouds slowly roll in to cover everything in a cool mist.  The wise olive trees are perfectly placed, while the sad bending and weaving Cypress trees hold their own against the wind.

8 kilometers, 20 minutes by cab, 1 hour by bus if you catch both on time, and about 10 degrees cooler Villamagna seems trapped in history.  The locals speak very little to no English (which I love).  There is one little café, one little restaurant, and small bar.  Nothing seems to have changed here in decades.  Walking into the café you hear the record skip while being greeted with a very warm buon giorno. 

Villamagna is just outside Bagno a Ripoli which is just outside of Florence, but the worlds are so different.  The locals have lived here for generations.  The little house I’ve rented has been in the owner’s family for 3 generations.  That is a foreign concept to most Americans.

It takes some time to beat the American out of me.  Waiting for the bus is a little like therapy.  I walk far too fast for my own good in a hurry to get nowhere.  I barely enjoy my dinner before I’m asking for the check.  But gradually, surely, the American in me seeps out like the comfortable feeling you get when you secretly loosen your belt after a 3 course Tuscan meal.  It is quite good for the soul to let life pass you by while enjoying it.  I’ve come to learn as I do every year that Italy really is a lifestyle and not a destination. 

There are few things as good as Fagioli Uccelletto, the Bargello, or the smell of Villamagna after the rain.  I wonder how many times the serpents tail would encircle me to deliver my fate in Dante’s hell?   I’m guessing four times around due to my avarice nature.  I seem to squander things away with no thought of tomorrow.  I hope my search within my soul that began so many years ago leads me to Beatrice and inner peace.  If it doesn’t I can say that I truly gave it everything and I’m ok with that.


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