Strike a pose. Come on, Vogue!

 

I got my claws on a very heavy but delightful Vogue catalogue. It has everything I need in order to do some serious fashion illustrations (or more like exercises, remember: practice practice practice!) and even some character artwork.

I went to Siena yesterday (actually 20 km away from Siena, in a small but gorgeous town). Ten hours on about 9 trains for just fours hours of human interaction. I saw my adoptive grandmama and made her happy with my artsy things. I shook hands on the agrotourism summer job, and I can’t wait to get started. I saw the resort and I have to tell you, it’s incredibly beautiful.

Imagine this 14th century palazzo with 14 apartments, completely renovated and redecorated – with a lot of its original materials too. The massive stone and brick walls, the light brown window frames, the pool, the emerald valley and hills that surround it. There’s lavander in the garden, there are mimosas blooming all around the place – and I swear that there is not one scent that can defeat the magic of a mimosa in early spring. Your nostrils are immediately titilated and your senses run around, unable to regain themselves. The palazzo is built on a massive stone platform and you can see it clearly while taking a skinny dip in the pool on any given day. Heh.

Spending a week in that place would be the perfect therapy for anyone. It would also be perfect for writers who seek peace, quiet and inspiration. The latter is literally oozing out of every single pebble, stick and blade of grass.

Trenitalia sort of sucks but they’re better than other trains that I’ve had the misfortune to experience. The really fast and cool ones are sucky for a particular reason: you get on, you take your seat, you feel like you’re in business class because it’s all so nice and clean, and there’s a voice on the speaker that welcomes you aboard and tells you that in a few minutes a hostess will bring around a cart filled with refreshments, sparkling wine, mineral water and a vast selection of Italy’s best snacks and sweets. That makes your mouth dry for a little sparkly but also watery in anticipation of their pastry wonders. And the reason why it’s sucky is because that bloody cart never comes around. They’re lying pricks. Three times I’ve been on one of the cool and fast trains, and three times I have been mislead by the nice voice on the speaker. The only person that DID come by after the speaker announcement was always the nice lady who checked our tickets. Now that’s sucky.

The paradox is here: the same Trenitalia offers the Intercity train. When you think Intercity you think about something modern and fast, not the rusty old Thomas Train set that showed up on the platform. Once I got on and the train… or whatever that was… started moving, it felt like the platform was moving, not the… uh, train. I have to give them credit for comfort though. The suckier the outside, the more comfy and fluffy on the inside. And guess what! There’s actually a guy who comes around with a cart filled with refreshments, sparkling wine, mineral water and a vast selection of Italy’s best snacks and sweets! He even has a bell, which he rings in front of each compartment. That just left me wondering: do they always take the wrong train or do they always play the wrong message through the speakers?

Either way, ten hours via train is an experience that I do not wish to repeat any time soon. I came home completely zombified and I woke up even worse. I felt like I’d spent those ten hours under the train, not in it, in a continuous accident – one that Van Damme would probably try to prvent with the help of a sexy yet expired actress. A hangover sounds like a better option right now. A tequila, red wine and vodka combined kind of hangover. Hell, a tequila, red wine, vodka AND beer hangover. But no, I’m pretty much just a lousy train wreck.

In spite of that, however, my hands decided that they wanted to paint a little today. So they browsed through the Vogue catalogue, got inspired and came up with two illustrations. More to come tomorrow, when I get the pain out of my body. May you enjoy them.

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Starting the countdown.

 

A month and a half left.

A month and a half until I pack my bags once again and fly off into the Tuscan sunset.

I’ve always loved movies that were set in Tuscany. I’ve always been a sucker for the untamed hills, the deep dark forest, the elegant orchards and vineyards, the close-up on a couple of hands picking out the olives and pressing them for that amazingly delicious oil. Oh I could go on forever, Tuscany is an enormous work of art whose artist has left room for our most beautiful stories. It’s like poetry and once I step into that first inch of Tuscan land I feel like I’m a verse, a part of it. It welcomes you. It embraces you, it feeds you and it makes you happy just by looking at it. Oh, I’ve got the “virus”, clearly!

I’m looking at six months in a very beautiful part of Tuscany. I’m looking at six months of great food, fresh olive oil and all the Montalcino and Chianti wine that I could possibly wish for. The Montalcino castle is fifteen minutes away. I was 20 years old when I first got a taste of a dry chardonnay produced by this particular label. I was exhilarated. And from April, I’ll be staying just miles away from the source. How fucking awesome is that?

While I’m waiting to pack up and enter another five hour train ordeal just to get there, I’m browsing through my memory for images of the place. I’ve been there before, about a month ago. I spent two weeks there and it did me more good than a month’s worth of Hawaii. Tuscany heals things, you know. The bohemian air that movies give it – it’s real. People there love all the small things – the glass of wine at lunch, the pasta with the most ravishing tomato sauce, the clementines for desert, the basil leaves and garlic cloves that they throw in the pan, next to the steak. The afternoon walk. The morning coffee. The chit chats with the next door neighbor. The long bike rides through the woods or through the country side. The truffle hunt. The sun bathing session on the side of the pool. The cigarette smoked on top of a hill, while watching the city’s lights flicker gently under an explosion of stars on the night sky. Sheer poetry, man.

So I’ve got about fifty days of constantly looking forward to dive into that Tuscan perfume of life. Everything feels better there. At least for me, lil’ old romantic poetic me. Sure, life sucks, life’s painful and hard and doesn’t like to leave me alone, it keeps coming back to poke or pinch me. But out there, surrounded by those hills, I feel better. If I’m going to fight my way through this life, I’ll rather do it with a big smile on my face and a lot of warmth in my heart. Tuscany provides me with such things, without asking for anything in return.

You’d be amazed at how much history lies there, hidden in the narrow streets. I’m actually trying to envision all the kisses that went on by the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. Or how many “wow”‘s have slipped from people’s open mouths while staring at the city of Siena as it unraveled delicately on the side of an old mountain. Or how many sighs have left people’s chests upon taking that first deep breath of fresh air at the sight of a Tuscan sunset.

I’m telling you, there’s a lot of magic going on down there and I plan to investigate this phenomenon. I have to find out where it all comes from, as I already know where it leads. You see, if you’re an aspiring writer with romance oozing out of your fingertips every time you try to write something, you’ll find true happiness there.

You’ll open the dark green shutters of your kitchen and you’ll drink your coffee while watching the sun rise over the hills and your head will suddenly be invaded by words, phrases, ideas, entire novels if you listen carefully.

So I’ve got fifty something days left. Everything else pretty much sucks in my life right now, but this is going to be one hell of a ride. My horoscope (never read it, my mom sends me quotes) said that 2011 is going to be an amazing year for me. Let’s just wait and see, huh?

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