Sunday, January 3, 2016

I Want to Live in Italy and Have a Limonaia

Among all the many reasons I would love to live in Italy is the presence, on the grounds of some old villas, of limonaie.  These are lovely structures, usually made of brick, with arched doorways through which enormous terra cotta pots of citrus trees are wheeled in and out during the cold season.  Inside the limonaie the air is kept warm enough for the tender trees to survive the usually mild Tuscan winter;  outside the sun is strong enough even in winter to keep the trees happy on the warm days when they can be wheeled outside.  The doors themselves are wooden, and when all are opened, the limonaia with its tiled roof looks like a small temple.  As I was drawing these satsumas with their summery green leaves today, I thought of the limonaia in the beautiful courtyard of my friends' house in the tiny village in Tuscany where I was lucky enough to spend two summers a few years ago.
The drawing above is from my journal from 2007, and the limonaia shown here is not my friends' but another one, at the Oasi San Giovanni outside of Cortona, where I went to teach a short class one of the summers I was living near there.  The lemon trees were parked outside the arched doorways.  This particular limonaia was partially bermed into a hillside under a large porch.  The section over the doorway arches had a tiled roof, but deeper back into the hill under the porch, the cool dark served as a collection area for lemons and other fruit from the gardens.  Our studio was above the limonaia just off the porch.  Bliss.

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