14 PICTURE ALBUM
Sunday, September 14
Paula: We took time today to make plans for the rest of our stay in
Tuscany and revised some of our thoughts on the next stop, Southern France.
It still amazes us how long it takes to figure out the logistics of our stays.
I often feel I read the Lonely Planet books several times and still don't
feel confident in how we should "tackle" a new place. Fortunately,
Steve's intuition regarding travel logistics is much better than mine. I have
found I'm better at helping everyone manage the challenges of the trip - sometimes
insisting we slow down a bit so that we see less but experience more.
Sometimes the mental strain of the trip catches up with us. After a few days
in Tuscany the kids commented, "Now this feels more like a vacation!"
It made me realize that the trip has been more like a job or school than a
vacation. We had told the kids before we left that they would not be on "vacation,"
but we are just now fully appreciating the amount of work involved in educational
travel. That said, while our time in Tuscany has been relaxing, we have also
started having the kids work on their math and Spanish skills with special
computerized textbooks we brought along. Along with our daily routine of writing
and reading, this still makes for full days. Despite this, we have managed
some great down time-painting time for Katie, a chance to chase the lizards
for David, quick dips in our small pool and even some ping-pong. In addition
to our dinners, the best supplement to our routine here has been daily walks.
While we have done lots of walking throughout the trip, the trekking in Tuscany
has been different and more relaxing. Our walks or "wanders" often
don't have a destination like our city walks. We don't have to worry about
traffic or street signs. The tranquil
Tuscan countryside allows us to talk and really listen-just enjoying each
In addition to working on our travel plans today, David and Katie had time
to write, read and to study their Spanish. This afternoon, we took a walk
and then went to dinner at a small pizzeria just outside of Siena.
This was our last day of relaxation for a bit - tomorrow we are heading to
Florence for the day, and Tuesday we have hired a guide for a day-long hike
through the countryside and into the town of San Gimignano.
Distance Walked: 4.39 miles
Katie's Komments - The topic for today is
The Landscape of Tuscany
Ever since the first minute we arrived here we have all been amazed by the
beautiful landscape of Tuscany. I have had a great time painting the wonderful
landscape around our apartment and while doing so have noticed some similarities
between the scenes of my paintings and those of the Impressionists. The following
paragraphs discuss my feelings about the breathtaking scenery and atmosphere
After three hours of driving through the hills we finally stepped out of
our car and into the Tuscan sunshine. After taking my first breath of Tuscany
air I looked around the farmhouse. We were literally right next to a vineyard
and surrounded by tons of lovely olive trees. I looked out into the countryside
and absorbed the beauty of the various plant life and farmland. This patchwork
of yellow land and green trees brought a magical feeling to the entire area
and my wonders of this place. We were going to be surrounded by all of this
for an entire three weeks
I couldn't wait! The composition of this patchwork
of color and design seemed perfect. There were vineyards everywhere; while
each field had evenly aligned rows the fields were arranged at different angles
to create a sense of movement. There were only three major colors used in
the patchwork, but all of the variations of these three colors created a colorful
and flowing effect. I finally realized why the Impressionists liked to paint
here. I was already inspired.
The more we looked around the area the more inspired I was about painting
here and using the ingenious techniques of the impressionists. It was the
place I had dreamed of painting at and the place many others never had the
opportunity to see. The colors were strikingly familiar to the ones I used
in my oil paintings all the time
burnt sienna, yellow ochre, raw sienna,
Hooker's green and so on. The impressionists liked to paint Tuscany because
of its colors. I knew the impressionists looked for challenges and this would
definitely be one for them. I knew very well that all of these color variations
would require a great understanding of color mixing. I even felt a little
guilty for getting to come to this beautiful area when I had only about two
years of painting experience with mixing colors. I knew of so many people
who studied painting really hard hoping that someday they would be able to
use their skills in Tuscany and are still dreaming of a chance to go. I picked
out many things I had seen in impressionist collections of paintings
such as the Cyprus tree, wine vineyards and farm houses. It was like Monet's
garden in Givenry - I recognized all of these elements just like they were
painted long ago.
This was indeed a breathtaking sight for me. There were millions of different
kinds of plants and wild life as well as tons of different color shades and
variations. The rows of grapes and tilled farmland moved in all different
directions and seemed to be led by tall Cyprus trees. This created a complex
and moving scene, but unlike the Sistine Chapel it was not overwhelming energy.
It was more of a soothing and calming formation created by Mother Nature.
It was a flow of beauty that will lasts within my heart and memory forever.