Saturday, March 25, 2017

Childhood in Casignano

Dear Art Lover,
     Many years ago, I got to stay in a friend’s home in a magical place called Casignano.  It is in Tuscany, on the outskirts of Firenze.  I got to be friends with the farming family there.  As I write, the patriarch Renato is 94 years old.  When I first met him, he told me of being a little boy in the same house during the American arrival to help Italians liberate Firenze during WWII.  American soldiers stayed in his home, hiding out in the hills surrounding Firenze until the moment was right.  For this experience [and perhaps others afterwards], Renato has a good feeling about Americans.  I only lived as their neighbor for a few months in total over two years (having returned to the States between times), but my friendship with this family came about quickly and has lasted.

     I recently completed a pastel sketch of some of the dancing olive trees in Casignano.  During one of “our” olive harvest times, I saw little Marco, grandson of Renato, running down the hill and just goofing off while the rest of us picked olives.  I have always relished this memory because childhood has a freedom we rarely experience in later years.
“Childhood in Casignano, Italy”
12 x 18 inches    $650
Pastel drawing on UArt sanded paper
Copyright 2017 Kelly Borsheim

Childhood in Casignano Tuscany Italy Pastel Painting Drawing Boy Running in Olive Grove

     If you like pastels, check out more of them here:

     For years I have returned to Casignano for the “raccolta delle olive” (olive harvest) each November.  Renato’s wife Giuliana cooks up a huge lunch for all of the workers, mostly family.  Natalino is one of Renato’s brothers and I have seen him year after year.  He is even in a previous blog post, as you may see in this image below.  Natalino is a name many Italians born on or near Christmas receive.  [Natale = Italian for ‘Christmas’ and the suffix “-ino” means “little.”]
      This past November, I could not get down there for the harvest.  I have a new home in the country some distance away from them and a new pair of brothers to help.  However, I was able to get down to Casignano after dark for dinner last November.  Like most families, this one had members coming and going and I did not get to see everyone for long or some at all.
    A couple of days ago, my friends posted on Facebook that Natalino has died.  So, I dedicate this blog post to him.  He was a “bravo uomo,” a good man and a kind man.

Natalino sits near wooden ladders in Casignano during Olive Harvest, Tuscany, Italy

     For my fellow nature lover, I would like to share a few snapshots I took while on [the dog] “Gregory Duty” this past Thursday as my landlord volunteered for ambulance duty.  In Italia, this group of mostly volunteers is called the Misericordia.  Can you tell how I love the bees?  More images are on my Facebook page.

Happy birthday to my artist friend Hélène Delmaire!



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Walk in Tuscan Hills Curious Dog Gregory
Gregory is curious.
Walk in Tuscan Hills Bee Approaches Wildflower
See the bee approaching this wildflower?
Walk in Tuscan Hills

Walk in Tuscan Hills close-up of tiny white flowers on bushes

Walk in Tuscan Hills Bee enjoys harvesting on tiny white flowers

Walk in Tuscan Hills  fungus growing on dead log in forestWalk in Tuscan Hills  Tiny bell shaped blue wildflowers


Jo Castillo said...

Lovely painting and great photos. Maybe we will cross paths, soon. Hugs.

Kelly Borsheim said...

Thank you, Jo! And I hope so. Hugs to you as well.