"Come back before it’s too late."
It was the last line of an email from our friends, Roger and Joan, who own a centuries-old renovated villa in Umbria, Italy. We visited them in 2015 (read about that here) and fell in love with Le Vigne and the surrounding villages of Umbria. It was the trip of a lifetime.
From time to time, we have dreamed about going back but didn't think it would happen. Then in January, Roger reminded us that Le Vigne is now for sale. If we didn't go back this summer, we might not get another chance.
That got our attention. And he tempted us with an additional offer we couldn’t refuse: in early July, the sunflowers would be out.
Italy is known for its sunflowers, and in Umbria, there would be no shortage of them. Sunflowers are one of my daughter's favorite flowers; we had several arrangements at her graduation party. But whole fields of them?
That settled it: We booked our flight to Italy.
Within a day or two of arriving at Le Vigne, Joan showed us some fields within walking distance and drove us to others a few miles away.
The plants were several feet tall and packed in so tightly that you couldn't walk among them. Most of the flowers were not quite ready yet, and as unopened buds, they looked nondescript and even strange. I would have walked right past them if I hadn't known what they were and what they soon would be.
One favorite field was on a hill below the local church. Here's how it looked on our Monday morning walk.
We could see patches of yellow inside some of the buds, which meant they'd be opening soon, hopefully by the end of the week before we left for home.
On Wednesday, here's what we saw.
They were opening! I couldn't wait.
And then on Friday...
Buongiorno! Good morning! Big bright yellow faces were open and turned toward the sun. We laughed and pointed and took photo after photo.
On Wednesday, as we were looking at this field, I glanced down a side road and saw a few more sunflowers on the corner. It might have been another field but it was hard to tell from where we standing. I pointed it out to Mart. "Do you want to go check it out?"
Honestly, I hoped he'd say "nah" because I was very hot and thirsty. By this time in our walk, we had already seen a few sunflowers. But he said, "Yeah, let's go. It's not far."
Soon I was glad he did.
We walked past a condo building and as we rounded the corner, a huge field opened up in front of us and stretched the entire length of the building and then some.
This field quickly became another favorite, and by Friday, it was stunning.
Bellisimo! Beautiful! Thank you, God.
I felt like there should be a crowd lined up to see this beauty, but it was just us. Some rousing piece of classical music would have been fitting or maybe the ringing of the church bells from the top of the hill. But all was quiet at that time of morning, and the town was just beginning to stir.
What must it be like to wake up in one of those condos to a field of sunflowers just across the road? And at the end of your workday, to pull into your street and see them standing there in all their golden glory?
All too soon, the perky yellow petals will dry out and fall off, and the heads will turn brown. After that, the flowers will be harvested for the seeds, which will be made into sunflower oil.
But that's a couple of months from now. In the meantime, they will spread their cheer for anyone with eyes to see. Like us. And now, you.
Are you receiving my blog posts by email? Here at Glimsen, I share glimpses of the beauty around us in nature, the arts, and the unexpected. If you would like to see more, click here to sign up to receive my posts and updates by email, and you'll also get a free printable gift of beauty in your inbox. I look forward to connecting with you!