A month of eating pizza and pasta in Italy brought on an urge to run through the hills of Tuscany, one warm day in May. To my surprise, getting into a rhythm wasn’t difficult in the slightest. The beaming sun kept my body warm, whilst the sights of the landscape kept my eyes combing the land.
The harmony of the beautiful Toscana landscape is reflected in the low-lying green hills with graceful curves, which offer panoramic views of live orchards, vineyards and cypress trees. It seems as though Tuscan valleys are a prime example of how human interaction with nature can sometimes create awe-inspiring, magical landscapes. One may say the landscape reinforces the great aesthetic sense of the Tuscan people. The hills lead on to sharply peaked mountains that pose a formidable barrier between Tuscany and regions to the south. Thus, visitors conclude that not only is the architecture of Tuscany aesthetically pleasing, but so too is the architecture of the manmade landscape.
Tuscany is one of the most prosperous agricultural regions in Italy, specialising in cereals such as wheat, olives and olive oil, and wines, most notably those of the Chianti district near Siena. Evidently, the land is most fruitful. Whilst in the city of Florence, ancient Florentine architecture is the foundation of the sublime, comparatively, out in the countryside, it is the endless horizon of moving green pastures and winding roads that twist in curious ways, which entice people to the outskirts of such a breathtaking province. In May the rolling hills are particularly lush, with some areas of mud if the rains have been recent. In my opinion, it is undoubtedly the best time of year to explore Tuscany.
On this day, the glorious landscape had striking appeal; so I kept running until I hit a fork in the road with signs to Montegufoni. Ironically, this roadblock stimulated intrigue, so I continued down the road for about one kilometre before passing between statues of lions on each side of the road, which mark the entrance to the grounds of Montegufoni Castle. I was soon to learn that the magnificence of Montegufoni Castle dates back to the twelfth century.
Imposing gates enclosing the grounds of the castle lead into the main courtyard, where, on this particular day an “empty” reception was close by. From this corridor, the castle was open to inspection, as well as being open to the romanesque. It became apparent that the high ceilings, antique stylistic arrangements and pruned gardens with lemon trees make it a picturesque venue for weddings and other events.
Monetgufoni Castle holds a great art treasure, a frescoed room by Gino Severini called “La Sala delle Maschere”. This “Room of masks” belongs to a classical period that Severini stylised at the beginning of the twenties, influenced by Picasso. This painting contains colourful clowns and musicians illuminated by a Mediterranean light. Sightseeing this empty building turned out to be the most memorable water break I have experienced.
What became most apparent to me is that all of Tuscany is a panoramic canvas, painted with cypresses, vines and touches of burnt orange. Montegufoni Castle is but one piece of architecture nestled into the hillside, which exhibits beauty beyond the landscape.
1. Borsook, Eve. The companion guide to Florence. HarperCollins Publishers Limited, 1973.
2. Evy, Renee Gearhart L. “Rooms With a View.”
2. Schevill, Ferdinand. Medieval and Renaissance Florence. Vol. 1. Harper & Row, 1963.