A Weekend in the Alps

Hidden away in a valley in the Alps, the town of Chiavenna awaited us for a much-needed weekend getaway. Our home was a cozy, 400-year-old, four story tower built on top of the remains of a Medieval city. The tower overlooked a vineyard, freshwater creek, and an archeological village of stone houses. 

The weather was overcast and in the low 60s with specks of sunlight seeping through the clouds; the only sounds audible were the rushing creek water, crashing of waterfalls against the mountains, and birds singing. I was half expecting to look up and see Rapunzel’s hair draped over the balcony.

The tower was completely secluded and without internet (I know, how did we ever survive?). We spent our weekend mountain biking, strolling, exploring, and most importantly, resting. The mornings were slow, peaceful and accompanied by hot tea. We spent the nights sipping on wine from the vineyard, gifted to us by our kind host, curled up in blankets looking out at the waterfall, telling stories varying from memories of childhood Christmases to tales of high school romance. 

Most importantly, this weekend reminded me of the absolute God-breathed beauty of creation. 

The Craftsmen

I wandered around Florence one quiet Friday morning with a camera in hand. Walking down a street I take every day for class, I noticed something shiny out of the corner of my eye. 

I looked over to find a celestial display of hand-made wall decor and was automatically lured in. There were three people in the shop, each slouched over his or her own workspace, consumed by routine. Though their movements were so delicate and precise, they made it seem as if it were something as ordinary as brushing one’s teeth. 

In jumbled Italian, I asked if they minded my photographing them. They happily obliged and I spent the morning watching them in awe as they silently created. 

From the small exchange of words we were able to communicate, the men proudly told me they are cousins and have been working as craftsmen for decades, spending most mornings meticulous producing their decor. 

It is moments like this that remind me of the preciousness of routine and simplicity.

Cortona

This is my second week studying abroad in Florence, Italy. This weekend, my roommate from home, Mary Louise (Weezie), and our new friend, Elizabeth, and I decided to take a spontaneous day trip to this fairytale in the hills of Tuscany's countryside, Cortona.

Cortona is a quaint town in the province of Arezzo, in Tuscany, Italy. After a quick train and bus ride, we arrived at the top of a hill and were greeted by a chocolate show and view overlooking the countryside. 

We spent the day wandering up and down the streets of Cortona: weaving in and out of shops, chasing cats, petting dogs, soaking up views and just enjoying being present. 

Biggest obstacles of the day: missing two of our trains and realizing we never wanted to leave.