From a break in the trees up at Monticello, you can see the famous Rotunda at the University of Virginia down in Charlottesville. The brainchild of Thomas Jefferson, "UVa" was established as a public university on land once owned by James Monroe (5th President of the US) and was the first to offer formal study in philosophy and astronomy according to the Wikipedia article found here. It's also the home to several secret societies including the philanthropic Z Society, whose symbol graces the steps leading to the Rotunda (and other places).
Unfortunately for us, we only spent about two minutes on the campus of UVa. Just long enough to take the above photo. I wanted to stay longer, but S was afraid I'd commit myself to yet another Master's degree program.
We spent two nights at the Boar's Head Inn, where we enjoyed two dinners in the four-diamond Old Mill Room. (I blogged about the amazing food in my Food for Thought blog.) We also spent a couple of hours at the Downtown Mall Thursday afternoon, darting in and out of a few of the 100+ stores and grabbing an al fresco shrimp po' boy and sweet tea lunch at Miller's, one of the 30+ restaurants that line the tree-covered pedestrian street.
Charlottesville is a small town of about 40,000 people that probably doubles during the academic year. It seemed quiet to us, but then we realized that the students haven't come back yet. Give it a few more weeks, and the place will be hopping.
In some ways Charlottesville reminds us of Bloomington. The presence of art galleries in the Downtown Mall indicates a good number of local artists; there are a plethora of ethnic restaurants and several independent coffee houses and bookshops. Charlottesville is certainly quaint and UVa is pretty with its rolling green hills and large brick buildings. But of course, we are biased and will always think that Indiana University has one of the country's most beautiful university campuses. :-)
Nevertheless, we're thinking that Sweet C'ville needs to be put on the list of potential retirement locations. Its proximity to the mountains, historical sites and short train ride (114 miles) to Washington, DC is a plus. The local food movement is growing, and Joel Salatin's Polyface farm is only about 30 miles away. What's not to love?