Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tuscan Countryside

These are not the best pictures,
taken from a moving bus
with cloudy light,
but you can get a sense of the quality of the countryside.
It is very hilly, of course,
but I had envisioned vines everywhere.
Not so: mostly cereals are grown
(our guide said maize corn, primarily)
and the fields have been plowed for winter,
giving them a very stark look.
The roads wind across the tops of the hills,
following the old Etruscan road systems
(the Romans built in straight lines, up and over hills regardless).
Along the way there are many former farm houses
with long driveways lined by tall cypresses.
Apparently the more cypresses one has,
the greater prestige of the property:

This last picture was taken near the restaurant where we stopped for lunch,
so it is of somewhat better quality.
It shows the "crete", the dry rough terrain around Siena,
that is very hard to farm.
There are ravines and ruggednesses
that remind me of the South Dakota badlands.
Apparently the "crete" shows up a lot in art landscapes.
You can see it beneath the little town crowning the hillside.

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