Tuscany is beautiful. Italy is amazing. Life is a gift.
My school, the Santa Reparata International School of Art, organized an incredible weekend trip for us all. We made pizza, drank wine, picked grapes in the vineyards, experienced the blacksmithing expo, swam in the Arno, toured castles, and hiked in the Sacred Forests.
This place is unreal! We made pizza from scratch, indulged in bottomless wine, danced the night away with the owner of the land and the director of our school, and enjoyed late night swims in the pool.
Nature Makes Me So Happy
Look at these grapes, all swaddled in green, the embodiment of Mother Nature's magic. Look how happy I am!
The Heart of the Farm
Meet Lu. She is a wonder woman and the heart and soul of the farm. Lu is a Renaissance woman. She's organizing the neighboring farms into an organic and international brand. She's an artist who's worked in Paris and NYC. She's building another home on her land to house WWOOFERS. She knows everyone in town. She's so much fun and such a good DJ and dancer. She called a gelato truck to drive right up to her hill in the middle of the night! (Yes, I got to eat gelato from a gelato truck). Lu and I bonded immediately and I offered to work on her land and be her personal yoga teacher. She was thrilled and said yes, of course.
We had the good fortune to be in Stia on the day of the European Biennial Blacksmithing Exposition. People from all over the world competed to forge the most beautiful and unique iron art. Amazing!
Stia is world renowned for their wool products. Orange and green is the classic color combination of Casentino Wool. We stopped into the old textile mill that still runs on power from the river. Lu (the owner of the farmhouse) talked her way into a personal tour for us, of course.
Antique Bike Show
Check out these bikes!
A Swim in the Arno
The Arno is the major river in Tuscany. It begins in the Casentino Valley and runs through Florence all the way to the West coast. Here, the water is so fresh and clean, hence the refreshing swim. In Florence, the river does not have the same sanitary reputation.
Italy is filled with so many small beauties to enjoy, like these clothes hanging from the apartment building that is surely hundreds of years old. After all, the town of Arezzo has been around for 30 centuries!
It's great going to an art school because I'm surrounded by talented artists all of the time. My new friend Esther and I connect over our love of photography. We also model for and photograph each other, hence all the photos of me. All of the photos *of me* in this post are credited to Esther Chang.
The Sacred Forests
This is the most enchanting land I have ever been to. I don't know much about the forests, but my body and soul understand their sacredness. A variety of monasteries and hermitages, including La Verna, photographed below, are nestled in these forests. Saint Francis of Assisi traveled through these forests for most of his life; it's no wonder he was so connected to nature. I was standing in the very cave where Saint Francis slept and prayed and contemplated All things. My soul actually aches to return to this place. It is quite incredible. While I was there I bought a book about the forests, and it maps out a pilgrimage of Saint Francis through the Sacred Forests and monasteries. I will return in the coming months on the pilgrimage, per my souls deep desire. Stay tuned!
There is something about the greens in Italy that is unlike that of other places, the green of the land, of the trees, and the vines and the moss. It's a happy green. It's like the land is so happy and alive and vibrant and well. Please, as you look through these next photos, especially the ones of the trees, take a moment to appreciate the photos and the life that is pictured. The photos feel sacred to me, and maybe they will to you as well.
Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. Wow. I am so blessed and so thankful for the gifts of this life. I am, as always, taking much time to contemplate the journey through life, the journey of peace, love, joy, and Divinity. I am exactly where I am meant to be. We all are. Perhaps there are no wrong paths, only the paths we choose and the paths we are on. True or not, this mindset has allowed me great comfort in my times of uncertainty. For me, I am grateful for All, for All makes up everything and everything is Divine.
Peace and love always,