Our medieval village, Montisi, is perched on what was once the coast of an ancient sea. The proof is in the oyster shells that tumble from the road banks after rains. And in the cockle bearing stones harvested from the ground just a few feet from our front wall, which they're now part of.
These same mollusks led Leonardo Da Vinci to argue (despite threat of excommunication) that this land had once been inundated by sea water, not Noah’s flood. And these same fossils helped Nicolaus Steno discover that the earth itself had a history worthy of a new science--geology.
As though reluctant to let go of the memory of its one-time home, water in another form often reclaims this ancient seabed. On autumn nights, ghostly mists inundate the Val d'Orcia all the way to Montisi. By morning, early rising Montisani find theirs a coastal village, while hilltop farms become offshore islands laved by silver vapor.
At least until the sun warms the veil and lifts it up.
[photo by Sally Gall]