If anyone thinks for a moment that life in a Montalcino might get dull, or that such towns sell nothing but wine and local handicrafts, then they have probably never been to Tuscany. Here, in Montalcino, there is no a lack of cosmopolitan culture, which could not be better demonstrated than through the beauty, whimsy and creativity of internationally recognized artist Carlotta Parisi, whose work can be seen, often in the act of creation, in her fantastical studio nestled at the very top of the town, on Via Spagni, just to the right of the cathedral, or “Duomo”.
Carlotta, an artist with a rare combination of skills in illustration, sculpture, mural, fresco and handmade items for everyday use, from trivets made from the ready supply of used corks of Brunello to clay whistles or life-size papier mache characters, works in many different media — paper, wire, felt, cloth and clay — has illustrated and published children’s books, won awards for her work in metal, and has created small dream pieces that you can carry home to remind you of the magic of the Val d’Orcia as captured through the eyes and expressiveness of an artist who remains firmly rooted in both Montalcino and the surrounding valley and to her childhood.
I recall many times staring at a sunset over a hillside vineyard in the late-summer while out for a long walk, with colors too vivid and topography so perfect to possibly be real. More like an animation from a classic film I was transported from the physical world to a dream state where innocence and imagination know no bounds. This, for me, is what Carlotta is making: surrealism for the young at heart. Having a small piece of the Val d’Orcia in my home created lovingly by the hand of a child of the this land can trigger the memories that will keep the tranquility and light of Tuscany alive in my life all year round, even in the frenzy of a Manhattan morning rush hour.