Thursday, November 3, 2011

Postcard from Piemonte: Autumn

photo credit: Dario Cavallotto
For today only we will stray from Venice across Italy to the beautiful region of Piemonte, famous for its wine, truffles and hazelnuts. My cousin sent me this photo that he took yesterday morning and though autumn appears in Venice in its own distinct way--with some of the most beautiful sunsets of the year, for example--I couldn't resist posting it.

The photo was taken in the Quartino di Loazzolo, between the small villages of Cessole and Bubbio, not too far from the hometown of the great writer Cesare Pavese. We made our first extended stay in Italy, from March through May 2010, in Cessole, working for our room and board on an organic vineyard/farm/agriturismo B&B, while our son spent part of the day at a pre-school (which he loved) in the neighboring village of Monastero Bormida.

The slender trees with the white trunks in the background are young pioppi (poplars) that are planted around the Bormida River and harvested (I believe after about 10 years) to make paper. Another horizon line of mature pioppi with their green-yellow leaves are arrayed a little further back, before the view hazes off into the distant trees on the justifiably famous colline (hills).

The field in the foreground, plowed so clean, I'd find austerely beautiful in itself if it didn't remind me of a few particularly arduous days of labor: one interminable day we spent planting 200 young hazelnut trees, and two others on which we, blinded by sweat, buried legions of ocular potato bits beneath earth’s heavy lid in record April heat.

Yet even such trying days as those, as the poet Leopardi pointed out, ultimately become achingly sweet in retrospect, the vista soft and appealing as the photo above.


  1. Now, these words painted quite a picture in my mind:

    "two others on which we, blinded by sweat, buried legions of ocular potato bits beneath earth’s heavy lid in record April heat."

  2. I'm glad they worked. To be honest I was thinking of a line of a long-time Venetian resident when I wrote them, Ezra Pound:

    And there died a myriad,
    And of the best among them,
    Charm, smiling at the good mouth,
    Quick eyes gone under earth's lid,
    For an old bitch gone at the teeth,
    For a botched civilization,
    For two gross of broken statues,
    For a few thousand battered books.

    Not sure about the punctuation of those, as I don't have the book here with me. But he could be a good poet; too bad he put his talent at the service of anti-Semitism & Fascism.