Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Charlottesville Adventure: Part 1

Recently I visited Charlottesville, Virginia and had the opportunity to see Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home. Thomas Jefferson was a true Renaissance man, interested in languages, science, philosophy, and many other disciplines. He designed this home and perfected it over a 40 year time period, using elements of architecture and design that he had seen in France.

Spring has arrived at Monticello! Tulips are in bloom everywhere.   This is a view of the West Lawn and the back of the home. 

It was difficult to choose pictures for this post because everything was absolutely beautiful.  I could write volumes about Monticello; it's truly a wonderful place. 

While waiting for the house tour, I explored the beautiful gardens and landscape.  I can imagine Jefferson taking a break in this garden pavilion, admiring the commanding view of the rolling hills beyond the orchards and gardens at Monticello. 

Over 300 different varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers were grown at Monticello.  Jefferson studied and cultivated plants from around the world and noted that "the greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture." 

Every plant is carefully labeled and tagged.  Natural materials such as twigs are used to support the vegetables.  The wooden markers are carefully penned in beautiful calligraphy in English and Latin.  Luckily for the novice gardener, you can purchase these beautiful markers in the gift shop at Monticello. 

Thomas Jefferson is buried at Monticello with other members of his family including his wife and children.  The cemetery is still used by his descendants to this day.  His tombstone epitaph reads, "Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia." 

You can take a leisurely walk down a pebble stone path to return to the Visitor Center.  It took about 15 minutes and offers beautiful views of the area.  There is also a shuttle from the Visitor Center to home and grave site. 

I'm still remembering the gorgeous tulips!  My mother says that they perfectly complement my pink Kate Spade jacket.  

Touring Tips: 
- Purchase your timed entry tickets before your visit at Monticello.org.  
- Leave about 30 minutes to tour the gardens at Monticello. 
- Learn about Mulberry Row on an interesting and informative 45 minute Slavery Tour.  This was one of the highlights of the trip.  The docent leading the tour must have been about 70 years old and I loved his point of view.  He was an outstanding storyteller!
- See if you can find all of the clocks in Monticello.  My favorite clock is the one in the entrance of the home, the Great Clock, powered by the Earth's gravitational pull on Revolutionary War cannonballs!
- Explore the cellar passages to see the rooms under the house. 
- I spent about four hours at Monticello and could have explored for much more time!

Later this week, I'll feature more details about my adventure in Charlottesville including the amazing hotel where I stayed and visits to some Virginia Wineries. 


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