Environment is huge part of our daily experience. Immersion in a new environment is an opportunity to understand both the area and my self better. Eyes and ears open readily to sights, sounds and ideas while logistics and planning can take a back seat.Visiting with friends living in great cities and regions adds greater context than a visit as an outsider. Finding myself with nostalgia for places as well as for people, I often return to my friend Lucia’s maternal home in Citta della Pieve, a province of Perugia, Umbria.Pictured in town.

This is the view from Lucia’s kitchen window.This airy vista is in Central Italy, at the border of Tuscany and Umbria, facing north toward the Valdichiana or Chiana Valley.

Lake Trasimeno, the second largest lake in Italy, is in the distance. It is an alluvial, verdant land rich in Etruscan-Roman History.The town of Citta della Pieve, founded in the 7th Century, has long inspired artists. The most well known, Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci, better known as Perugino, immortalized and idealized his native land in the XVI century.

Here is his work, The Adoration, from 1504. I visited this large fresco in town at the Oratory of Santa Maria dei Bianchi for where it was commissioned. Represented here, for almost the last time, is a dream of the ancient world envisioned as a place of contemplation and harmony. It is no wonder I feel at peace in this place.

This work was contemporaneous with the iconic pieces of Michelangelo Buonarotti and Leonardo da Vinci, with each artist processing the tensions of a modern world troubled by the worries and anguish of contemporary man in their own way. This feels quite current. A less bucolic detail of Michelangelo’s Last Judgement fresco for the Sistine Chapel, 1541.

Being asked into a friend’s home and home turf is a chance to understand and connect further with them, too. Lucia and I first became friends in 1997 while living in Florence at my first internship out of college. I had just completed my degree in Art History and Fine Art from New York University and we worked side by side at the same small painting conservation studio near by to Santo Spirito. When our two lady bosses, Sandra and Nicola were off site at the Uffizi Galleries, we connected through my improving Italian, over music, art and our ragazzi—a singularly Italian bonhomie.

I admire Lucia as she continues her work as an art restorer. She has incredible skill, patience and knowledge of color pigment, solvents, technique and history. My career path brought me here instead. Visiting Lucia; her home and her studio, gives me a warm, nostalgic feeling of a road not taken as well as the eternal pleasure of seeing a creator at work in their created habitat. Lucia’s spaces are a perfect representation of the rich, painterly life she leads in them. This is, of course, deeply resonant for me as an Interior Designer.
Il Ritocco or retouching a canvas.The eastern light from over the Valdichiana illuminates the room.

What a trip. Linking back and forth and back again further through time. Connecting with art and artists through a sharing of vistas and city streets. My life, my friends and experiences woven into the fabric of a landscape that resonates through me.

Grace and power of environment, indeed, all of the earthly delights.