Crete senesi

Monte Sante Marie and the Sienese Crete

A stunningly beautiful landscape of gently rolling hills the the harmonious colours of nature

 

 

From "Slowtuscany": Stories about Tuscany by Damiano Andrei

Translation by: Andrea Brown, Giovanna Novelli, Munmun Gosh


Have you ever seen Greek sculpture from the times of Ancient Greece? This time we depart exactly from here but not to talk of museums but instead of the countryside. The antique Greek sculpture celebrated for centuries as the most extraordinary work in which man has given form to a simple and rough peice of stone. The art of ancient Greece is however the fruit of a culture experience five centuries long, during which the coordinates of artistic taste have shown notable changes of route. The first so-called “archaic” period, was succeeded by “severe” and “classic” periods, perhaps the most celebrated right up until our time, and that we remember today as the “Hellenic” style. Hellenic sculpture is an art of the court, refined and sensual, that emerged from the workshops of the artists in Athens, Pergamo, Alexandria and Rhodes, capitals of the flourishing kingdoms after the division of the Macedonian Empire which arose after the death of Allessandro Magno (June 10 323 BC).

Among the numerous celebrated Hellenic statues, the subject that in my opinion identifies the period is of Aphrodite (Venus for the Romans), protector goddess of love and the woman of vital inpulse who guides fertility and reproduction. While in the classical era the goddess was potrayed always clothed, with a solemn, sacred aspect, the Hellenic courts preferred versions that were more human and more sensual. Look at the example of Doidalsas’ Aphrodite: the goddess, curled up and competely nude ready to perform a sacred bath, where a thick drape seems to have slipped down along the goddess’s hips, leaving her upper torso totally uncovered. In these, like the other works of the same subject, that which interested the artists and their refined patrons, was the virtuousness with which is was possible to represent her, more than the religious significance of a divinity, the beauty and the supreme elegance of the female body. The marble sculpture is moulded in delicate waves of layers, to create soft and sinuous patterns of light and shade.

There is not a single brusque movement, no sharp angles, only the elegant flow of soft wide curves on a body of warm stone. I think that nothing, better than a Hellenic Aphrodite can offer you the sense of a particular patch of Tuscan land called the “Crete senesi.” Hectares of hilly countryside south west of Siena, wide and silent like a gentle sea calm and sun baked waves of smooth low hills, cultivated with wheat and olives that follow one after the other as far as the eye can see. The Crete Senesi, dominated by the sounds of nature, dotted by old brick farmhouses circled by mulberry and cypress trees, is a place of nourishment for the soul. In the early summer, when the wheat is high, it starts to turn a warm gold, a light wind gently strokes the golden ears of grain, giving the sensation of  being in a state of suspension to those who behold the fields.
 
I owe the knowledge of probably the best observation point of the Crete Senesi - the panorama that can be enjoyed from the Monte SS. Marie,  to my friend Yoram. Coming from Siena, down the state road for Monte San Savino. At the Castelnuovo Berardenga you need to leave the state road turning towards Torre a Castello. From here the road starts to climb. It’s a narrow road, almost totally unsealed, that heads up to the saddle of the Monte SS. Marie hill. Along the road you’ll almost definitely see tourists on bicycles – be careful not to run them down with your cars! Leave your car along the road and walk among the footpaths alongside the wheat fields. There you will see panoramas and perspectives that even the most refined Greek sculptor could not have imagined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

damiano.andreini@libero.it - www.intermezzieditore.it/slowtuscany

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Crete Senesi
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