Yes, we know…..it’s been a while since we last chatted. More like a month and a half to be (not so) precise.
Why? you ask. What’s been happening ? you ask. Well, PLENTY. So here is some of it in more of a pictorial and rather spare verbal nutshell:
On the advice of my gorgeous cousin (thanks Beatrice!!), we spent a week at the agriturismo, Il Casalone (the Big House), just outside Montepulciano in the beautiful countryside of Tuscany. We drove all over the countryside, into tiny little towns with ancient churches, beautiful food and brilliant wines. I have even started drinking the odd rosso!
One rather unsatisfactory and outrageously expensive “tourist” tour of a local winery was positively counterbalanced by a visit to the Gattovecchi cantina, on recommendation of an old friend of Beatrice’s, Patrizia, who had befriended us. Meeting Jonatan (no spelling error) was such a warming experience – he was a big he-bear of a guy who literally scooped us up in his enthusiasm about his family’s 300 year old cantina and its quality produce. (It helps to have a name to drop – thanks Patrizia!).
It’s times like this I’m so proud to be (part) Italian – the passion, the warmth, the enthusiasm and the openness to people is what I love . (He was apparently a really good salesman too because we bought heaps of wine!)
Possibly the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen – both inside and out. We met a lovely Sydney couple, Harry and Susie, and asked them to join us for lunch in Monteriggione, about 12 km out of Siena. Pity we couldn’t stay into the evening because a bunch of locals were preparing for a Knights Templar mock battle with horses and “weapons” and it looked like it was going to be lots of fun.
We just loved Lucca, a beautiful town in Tuscany not far from Florence and Pisa. It was great to have three weeks in the one place, minus 4 days spent on a trip to Milano (more on that later). We knew Sue and Karen, a couple of girlfriends from Sydney who are currently living in Lucca, so it was a very sociable time all round, with lots of dinners, lunches, beach and day trips and wine!
This incredible medieval town is surrounded by a huge flat topped wall which is 4 kms around. At certain points, you can actually enter the cavity within the wall where, eons ago, soldiers and horses were housed, awaiting battle. The wall contains many surprises – inside and out – including pop up exhibitions of art and sculpture, which seem to appear over night!
One particular highlight for me was a cooking course with Extra Virgin Cooking Classes. Giovanni is an international cook who has worked in the US, Australia and many other countries and his enthusiasm and attention to detail were riveting. I picked up so many little tips and can hardly wait to get into the kitchen again at home. Mal took advantage of his “day off” to get some golf in so we were both happy!
Ok. Here is where I am struggling. If I want to get this off tonight before we head off to the Eiffel Tower (no apologies!), I have to do a bit of a photo montage which is light on the commentary but happy to answer questions when we get home.
Multiple dinners, lunches, aperitifs both in Lucca and day trips to exotic sounding places like Montacatini (in a raging storm), Forte dei Marmi, Pietrasanta and Portofino, amongst others . In general, some great times with Sue Steedman, Karen Thomas, hubby Ed and sister Leanne, Mum Doreen and all the kids, Nahid Coventry, Lisa Law and many others!
But Florence does deserve it’s own little mention, don’t you think? It was only a day visit with our own personal tour guide, Sue (xx), and a specific purpose in mind – handbags for Lia! Mission achieved along with some beautiful antique “ruby” earrings (thanks, Bubby!!) plus a few pressies for home. A chilled prosecco in the roof top bar of the Westin Excelsior Hotel capped off a fabulous day.
And a bit of touristy stuff too….
Paris calls so must head off now. Milano is on the menu for next post….as well as the rest of our trip though Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.
With biggest hugs to all.
We will be home before we – and you – know it. Be prepared!
Mal and Lia xx
PS Happiest birthday wishes to you, Yo. We can hardy wait to see you in Scotland on the 25th!