I've been spending a lot of time in Cortona. Through Frances Mayes lyrical prose, I visit Italy and get swept away to a world of olive and cypress trees, lush gardens, and sumptuous feasts every chance I get.
Let me begin by saying that I've never actually been to Italy, but I've been dreaming about it for quite some time. I yearn to speak the language (solo un po') and cook in a wood oven with the freshest ingredients, fragrant herbs, red, ripe tomatoes, and the best olive oil I can find. I want to roam the countryside and explore the Tuscan hills dotted with rose and apricot houses. I want to walk through the piazza and buy vegetables and flowers to fill my basket and uncover a hidden courtyard. When I arrive, I will order a caffe` and eat fresh baked bread while I explore the shops. In the evening, I will find a little trattoria and indulge in a glass of Chianti or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. I will embrace the rhythm of la dolce vita by waking early to birdsong and the glorious Tuscan sun, and then retreat to my bedchamber in the afternoon just long enough to revive myself for a delectable three-hour supper under the stars.
As if by divine intervention, we recently adopted an Italian. Dante' is actually a Siberian Husky, so he is an Italian of Russian descent. Cooper isn't quite sure if he's in heaven or hell, which makes this latest change to our family all the more ironic. As they say (in any language) be careful what you wish for. My dreams of Italy have manifested themselves into my very own Italian poet, complete with piercing blue eyes and muscular chest. (More on Dante' when I return.)
The sights and sounds are calling again. As I get ready for vacation, I am packing my collection of Frances Mayes books so I can bring a little of Italy to the Atlantic. Her words can almost guarantee me that I will have a beautiful day.