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Saturday, August 1, 2009
A Visit to Tuscany - The Commune
Renting a villa in Tuscany breeds multiple experiences,
Of man-made scenery in valleys and hillsides,
Of red-tiled roofs in centuries-old habitations,
Of dark, silent churches lit by devotional candles.
Tuscany is a mixture of ancient and modern.
Route 70 is being widened to four lanes
On the plain between Poppi and Bibbiena.
The mountain road to Eremo was etched by the monks
in the eleventh century.
Neighbors in the country build high fences around their fields,
Letting their dogs run loose to bark at the perimeter,
Reminding us of their ancestors in castles and walled towns
Who butchered their neighbors in the name of religion.
The people are dour and suspicious of strangers.
Expressionless, averting their eyes from one another,
Chattering endlessly in a sharp-tongued dialect,
Impatient at having to wait in queues.
The owner of the villa is an absentee.
He entrusts all his dealings with the guests to a maintenance man
Who speaks no English, and demands the balance due in cash.
We scramble to cash travelers checks and hit the ATMs.
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