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Another moment in time

It's all about the view

Grutti, Umbria, May 2014. This is from my Why page - the next on my cycle through the photographs I have chosen to illustrate the web site.

I am sitting on the terrace of our rented house just outside the little village of Grutti in central Umbria, probably posting my photographs and writing a summary of the day before, on my iPad. Communicating with family back home and in the UK via the internet. How did we survive before the internet? What would we have done without it in the current circumstances? I suppose we would have made multiple phone calls from our landlines or from the telephone box down the road. Or written postcards or letters. Humans, it seems, can't survive without communicating with others.

And as for computers, well, perhaps sadly, I spend a lot of time on a computer these days. On my holidays too. Or is that sad? After all in days gone by I would have been writing on paper - much more worthy, but surely just as debilitating as the light would have been a lot poorer and the ability to immediately erase mistakes and rearrange sentences would not have been there. Slower too, so it would have taken more time away from the sightseeing or just relaxing and thinking about life the universe and everything.

It's all about the view I say at the top of the page. What view you might say? I don't think you can quite see it reflected in the window of the house there, but this is it.

Well I have zoomed in. In reality Todi, the beautiful hill town shown here, was a little further away. Perhaps you get a better idea with this photo - David and washing - a very typical conjunction - and the view. In fact it's almost a better view when the town is distant. Well it wasn't very distant - maybe a quarter of an hour in the car. Somehow even more spiritual.

And we would sit on that terrace in front of the large villa grounds, with its swimming pool below, for breakfast, and sometimes lunch and dinner too and be soothed. For that, I think, is what a view does for you. Even if it is raining.

In our middle years we were supposed to move to Sydney but ultimately avoided it - it was far too expensive and we were not attracted to living there. But we did look at a lot of houses, and noted the Sydneysiders' obsession with the view. Which I scorned at the time. I had never in my life lived with a view and did not miss it. However, a few years later we found ourselves living in the Adelaide hills in a house with the most amazing view - apologies I cannot find a photo at the moment. I could stand in my kitchen and gaze down the hills to the sea, and on a clear day one could see Kangaroo Island. Or the mist would drift in and out with little glimpses of the view showing every now and then. Our dining room - indeed most of our main rooms faced that view - westwards, so we got sunsets too. It was so spiritually uplifting somehow. And so it was in Grutti.

We have actually stayed in many houses in France and Italy with a view but I have to say that this was one of the outstanding ones. The owners who greeted us and showed us around came from Naples, and in the house was a picture - I can't quite remember now whether it was a painting or a photograph of their view in Naples - what else but Vesuvius. So obviously they had come to appreciate the grand view too.

And vistas such as ours in Grutti, are blue - thus emphasising my question as to why blue is associated with grief. Because for me it's calm. Our house view these days is green - with, at the moment - yellow from the wattles. Also calm but differently calm. It's busier somehow. There is no vista.

Grutti is a small village but it has an excellent restaurant called Le Noci (Nuts) where we dined one night. Truffles - a local speciality featured highly on the menu and I remember still my dish of gnocchi with a truffled sauce. The wine, too must have been good because a photograph of the bottle was taken. My two photos are not particularly good, but I think give a good impression of the rusticity of it all. As you can see it was not very full - even though it was May and the beginning of the season. I wonder how they are faring now. I do believe it is generally very well thought of and busy. Trip Advisor rates it highly. There seems to be a courtyard, terrace somewhere, but we didn't see that. I have a vague memory of inclement weather.

Rustic could indeed be a word you would attach to the eateries of the area. One night we dined at an agriturismo nearby, where, once again we were almost the only customers, and where we heard the life story of the entrepreneurial young man who was running the place. Then there was this very rustic little place in the next village of San Terenziano - Ristorante il Buongiustaio. It almost looks like somebody's front room with a few tables in it. But again, the food was lovely, and again I think we were virtually the only customers.

And our own kitchen in our holiday home was similarly rustic and festooned with the owner's idiosyncratic belongings. I think it was their family holiday home, although I guess if you lived in Naples you might not need a holiday home. Perhaps they originally came from Grutti.

And it was all so well positioned too - easy driving to the sites of Umbria - Assisi, Perugia, Spoleto, Loreto ... not to mention the stunning countryside.

Perhaps it's today's isolation and bleak future as far as travel is concerned that has made me reminisce a bit about one particular holiday - shared with good local friends - the parents of our sons' school friend. One of the ways in which we make life-long friendships is it not? Through our children. We have spent many happy holidays with this particular couple and this was a really good one.

Various friends and acquaintances have said that one of their lockdown pastimes has been to cycle through their various holiday photographs, setting up slideshows, drinking a glass of wine and reminiscing with their partners or simply remembering on their own. Maybe in this case we should get out the bottle of home-made limoncello - so so good. I haven't done that yet, but perhaps I should. Or is reminiscing a sad thing? Is it sad to remember good times - the implication being that the good times have gone, or is it a positive acknowledgement of how good life has been?

The view from Todi - I think Lesley is pointing towards Grutti. So there is a view both ways. There always is. Forward and back, reflected and true.


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