Traipsing Through Tuscany – Monticchiello
Monticchiello is a very small village on the way to Pienza. I love the zig-zag road with the tall skinny cypress trees, just like in the movie, Under a Tuscan Sun! Asking about these trees I found that the Cupressus Sempervirens are known in Italy as the Italian, Tuscan, or Graveyard Tree. The tree is known as a symbol for mourning and associated with death because it fails to regenerate when cut back too severely. It’s branches were also used to fumigate during cremation and were also suitable to making wreaths. They are often planted around cemeteries because their roots go straight down rather than spreading out, so little damage is done to the graves sites. Arriving in the village I am surprised to find a new sub-division of homes being built on the outskirts of town. It looks out of place, but I can see why one would want to live here. The beauty of the village is the landscape; soft, rolling hills, dotted with the cypress trees, under a bright lapis lazuli sky and the warmth of the sun. It is exactly what you imagine an Italian landscape to be. You can relax and slow down. No one is in a hurry here. The older village consists of pale ochre colored stone houses with pastel colored doors, surrounded by manicured gardens. The Church of Santi Leonardo and Chrisoforo dates back to the last half of the thirteenth century, with a structure of a single nave and three apses. It has a Gothic facade adorned with an oval portal with a rosette. Going up the hill there is the ruins of the Cassero Tower, from days long past. This is the place to be to get away from it all.
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