The Eye was watching the local news on KTVZ one night last week when an ad for something called "Tuscany Pines" came on. We had to rub our eyes (and ears).
In a bizarre accent that apparently was meant to be Italian but sounded more like ... well, we don't know; Hungarian or Icelandic, maybe? - the voiceover narration described the attractions of this "unique walled community of 99 Tuscan-style town homes on 11 acres of gently rolling meadows" located off O.B. Riley Road. ("Meadows"? In northwest Bend?)
The exteriors of Tuscany Pines homes "will utilize a wide variety of materials and colors to create the Tuscan streetscape and provide originality and uniqueness to each home. The town homes range in size from 1,760 square feet to 3,206 square feet" and start at $399,000.
Tuscany Pines may be the most extreme example of the Tuscan mania that struck Central during the late, lamented real estate boom, but it's far from the only one. Pronghorn advertises "Mediterranean-styled villas" starting at $2 million each. The Ranch at the Canyons, another snooty development near Smith Rock, is building a "Tuscan-style clubhouse."
And the local real estate ads are full of pitches for homes boasting "Tuscan" architecture and features. A random check of craigslist.com for Bend this morning found no fewer than eight of them.
The Eye has never been to Tuscany, unfortunately, but we know a few things about it. And it sure as hell ain't much like Central Oregon.
Tuscany is a region in northwest Italy on the coast of the Mediterranean. Its name comes from the Etruscans, a pre-Roman people whose civilization flourished there. It has fertile soil and a sunny, mild climate and is famous for producing olive oil and wine, notably Chianti.
The principal city of Tuscany is Florence, a metropolis of more than 350,000 people that was founded more than 2,000 years ago. Florence is known as "the cradle of the Renaissance." It was the birthplace of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, the painter Botticelli and the poet Dante Alighieri, among many others.
Architectural and cultural landmarks of Florence include the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore ("the Duomo"), the Campanile tower, Bartolomeo Ammanati's Fountain of Neptune, the Palazzo Vecchio, the Medici chapel, the Pitti palace and the world-renowned Uffizi Gallery.
Visitors to Florence sometimes are so overwhelmed by the quantity and splendor of the art works on display that they experience "Florence Syndrome," also known as "Stendhal Syndrome," described as "a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly beautiful or a large amount of art is in a single place." (We swear we did not make this up.)
As far as The Eye knows, nobody has been stricken with Florence Syndrome after viewing Bend's art treasures. But maybe adding a few more roundabout sculptures will do it.