|The brown color of the rolling hills is from the expansive wheat fields.|
|Some of the fields had already been harvested. It's hard to see, but there are vineyards on the hillside.|
One of the highlights of the trip so far has been our tour into the country. Tuscany is the west central part of Italy and is known for its delicious olive oil, its flavorful steak, and its wine which is produced from the many, many vineyards in the region. I had always imagined this part of Italy to be lush and green because of those vineyards, but this is not the case. While we did see vineyards, the most prominent color was light brown due to the expansive fields of wheat. I was surprised, but of course, this makes sense - pasta is made from wheat, and Italians eat A LOT of pasta. Our guide, Levennia, told us the other two colors of the Tuscan landscape come from the grey rocks and soil, and the bright yellow sunflower fields intermingled with all that wheat. We passed quite a few of these sunflower fields, and I wondered why Tuscany had so many. Levennia told us that these are grown as feed for the farm animals in the region, as well as for oil. I wanted to take a picture of those lovely fields for you, but as we drove the clouds moved in. Unfortunately, if you've ever grown sunflowers in your garden, you know that on cloudy days the flowers bow their heads and close up their petals so you can't see the bright yellow of their faces. There's nothing sadder than a whole field of sunflowers on a rainy day. :( I also noticed the many olive orchards as we drove. Here in Italy, olive trees are as abundant as apple trees in the US. I had never seen an olive tree before and was fascinated. Here they are just beginning to produce fruit.
|This is an olive grove. The trees have gnarly bark and a pale green sheen.|
|The narrow streets of Montelcino. In Tuscany, everywhere you want to go is uphill!|
|This is the view from the top of the church's bell tower. Doesn't the ridge in the background look beautiful and blue just like in Virginia?|
|I could barely reach the doorknobs on the front doors of the elementary school. There wasn't a second set at a lower point either!|
Next stop, Florence! Ciao!