Monday, 29 October 2018

Hot Springs, Wild Boar and Teenagers without Wifi....

In the words of our dear girls, we have returned to civilisation......we have WiFi...

High up in Valle di Ledro, above Lake Garda, we have returned to base camp. It is cold and wet, the fires have been lit and the wife has started to tackle the mountain of ironing. My 'offers' of help have been swatted away with the dismissive contempt that they deserve.

So, temporarily unemployed, I can review our epic journey since the trip to the island of Elba.

I believe it is sad that we seem to 'need' to be in contact with others whilst exploring new and interesting places. Not just contact, but to keep uptodate with the news back in England, I think you know what I mean... What we did need technology for was the ability to check the price of the ferry to Elba, when it ran and what the weather was like etc. 

Last week, we therefore rapidly increased our data allowances and collectively breathed a sigh of relief...

We had visited Montalcino, a lovely town with oceans of vineyards that stretch beyond the distant horizons. They also produce the famous Brunello wine, which is highly sought after if you tend to have a large wadge of cash burning a hole in your pocket. I was tempted to part with the equivalent of the sale of my wife's vital internal organs, however I was physically restrained by the newly arrived litter of kittens that she can produce at will..

So we moved on to more villages through an amazing road that wound its way around Monte Amiate, the trees jettisoning their colourful autumnal foliage all around us. We then found some more thermal springs at Saturnia which was apparently very popular. Unarmed as I was with bathing shorts, the decision to enter the springs with social shorts was a good one, in that, a) no-one cared (apart from my appalled daughters) b) the water was beyond lovely and warm c) it was free.

Last Thursday we met some friends in Grosseto for the morning and got an invite to dinner. On arrival, the host Samuele greeted us with the usual Italian generous hospitality. I noticed that he was sporting a shirt that had an emblem of the Brunello Vineyard. After I explained that we had visited the area, he announced that he works for them as a chef-teacher and if we visited again we would get a free tour and some discounted Brunello wine. Immediately my diary came out on to the table to rearrange all our plans. Very sadly the majority of my family, being 3.5 votes to 1 with half an abstention, the motion was not carried....

Friday we went north along the coast to Punta Ala where we could paddle a long way out in the beautiful Etruscan sea before returning to the villa for a farewell BBQ. We were very sad to leave our friends in Grosseto and we are sure to return again.

Our last week was based near Siena/Arezzo. The villa was superbly located with stunning views of the villages below us. (Sounds like an estate agent-but I speak with no sales pitch)
We visited Perugia to meet up with some English and American ex pats. There seem to be an increasing amount of them in this area of Tuscany...who knows...? Then onto Montepulciano where we were encouraged by Sue, Amanda and (I think) Mary, to try together the 'Nobile' local wine. We needed not much encouragement and thank you dear ladies for our chat, a very pleasant time indeed.

After a trip to Assisi we ventured again to Perugia to check out the chocolate festival. Some purchases took place, of course. Getting physically tired now after 150 km of walking over 2 and a
bit weeks, we thought we'd try and find a place to eat out locally. We noticed a recommendation in
the visitors book and went for it. There's an Italian description of eating "alla Buona", which basically  means that you eat very well, but "simple". The price is less, the restaurant is simple, the food made by family and homemade and cooked traditionally. Absolutely lovely. I love it. If you ever visit Lucignano, near Sinalunga, go to "Le Botti, meaning "The Barrels". Myself and the girls chose the "Pici" ( local variation of spaghetti) with Wild Boar Ragu sauce.

On the short drive back to the villa, along a forest road, we first encountered in our headlights, a very healthy looking fox, two minutes later a cat with two kittens that were playing with something like a frog, and to beat them all, we then almost collided with a Wild Boar that clearly wasn't obeying traffic regulations. All in all, a very eventful meal out. On reflection, I believe that our car would have regretted a collision and that would have been justice for our choice of dish at Le Botti....

The last few days were spent collecting photos for artistic scenery such as San Gimignano and Siena, wonderful places, but too touristy for me...

So we are now awaiting our first trip 'home' to England in a few days time. The mountain of ironing has been declassified to a "large pile", I have balanced the budget just in time for Mr Phil Hammond's speech today and Art by Three have already commenced the next set of pieces of work.

To be honest, although I am looking forward to meeting again with friends and family (and the cat) in England, my heart is definitely set on the next stage, Cinque Terre from mid-November.

Have a good day everyone and comments on the above would be welcomed!

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