Lazing in Tuscany
26.03.2017 - 30.03.2017 25 °C
After our return from Venice it was time to turn our thoughts to moving on and spend a few days planning for our move to the UK and beyond. Following the frantic travel of our first 2 months away, it has been a pleasure to have a "home" and not have to worry about packing the cases, or where our next bed might be, let alone the challenge of another language.
The weather really turned it on for our last few days in Lucignano, bright azure skies, warm sunny days and it was a bit of a surprise to find daylight savings had arrived; leading to longer evenings spent gazing over the Tuscan hills and valleys from our favourite bars (there are 2 to choose from) and simply enjoying the slow village life. We have spent our days just meandering around the town and it's surrounds, soaking up the increasing warmth of spring, feasting on the local fare and sipping the last of our wines of the region.
We have found this little village charming and after a few weeks seem to be fitting into the local mould, accepting the closure of everything but the bar during siesta, making an appearance for apperitivo (although we do seem to be the keenest couple in town for this time of day!) and of course calling into Snoopy's gelateria on our way to sit in the gardens. We are well acquainted with Gilberto, the butcher, feel like part of the family in the supermarket; even if we are a little embarrassed about the daily purchase of wine. And Cath awaits market day, Thursday, like a kid waiting for Christmas, desperate to find out what has come into season this week. One of the many delights for Cath has been experiencing the Italian food culture and cooking what is in season. Verdant locally grown asparagus, artichokes and spinach, tomatoes, fragrant cheeses, salamis and crunchy bread and the royalty of course, hand made pasta. And we have both become quite the connoisseurs of bistecchia Chianina. Ian, meanwhile, has charmed a couple of the elder gentleman, who seem to have all day to sit outside the tabbachi and as evening approaches, move to the outer walls for a chat, with his resonant "Bongiorno" or "Buonasera". They sing out to him as we pass and whilst we and they do not understand every word it is wonderful to share a laugh and what we are sure is a joke.
It has been a delight to watch the trees and vines move through spring, slowly unveiling their blossom, followed by the bright greens of new leaves and shoots, causing us both to often wonder aloud "Next time we will come a couple of weeks later to see the plants in full dress" and to sneak a look at the real estate agents on our way past. What if we could have a little Tuscan house, we dream?
Tuscany and our little part of it has worked it's way under our skin and as many generations before us have been, we are enchanted and a little sad to be leaving. But the world beckons and with some renewed vigour we are ready for the next chapter in the year of living dangerously. So it is that we set off for Pisa, to see if we can straighten their tower, catch a plane and head for Herringswell and the Manor house.
Pisa! We could not have been more surprised! We arrived at what appeared to be a nondescript railway station, alighted and headed out toward the airport side exit, as it was where our accomodation lay. After wandering through some pretty average streets, we found our small hotel, dropped off our belongings and walked to the airport, which was only about 1/2 a km away. From there, a bus took us into town and as the journey slowly unfolded we were delighted to see the older side of the town emerging. We alighted at the leaning tower stop and there it was; the tower, the baptistry and cathedral, surrounded by verdant lawns, where students lay enjoying the early spring sunshine. It was so uplifting after three months travel to finally see a wide expanse of lawn. Pathetic I know, but it really did bring back to us the many wide green lawns of our homeland and what a pleasure to walk on.
We took the obligatory photos amongst the Oohing and Aahing crowds before making or way out the back and into the old town, where the real delights were. One is drawn into Pisa. The winding streets slowly reveal it's history, however there is a delightful vitality, brought about in no small part by the students chatting and smoking in groups. It seems there are a couple of universities there and as a result there is a large cafe culture that reveals itself as you wander from one street to the next. We took our time and were rewarded with some truly beautiful buildings, archways, piazzas and finally the Arno river which carves a wide expanse through the middle of the city. Of course, we held to our truism: two streets back from the tourist area was where we found a quaint little restaurant and enjoyed a local meal, generous and reasonably priced, before strolling through the evening crowds and eventually catching a late bus home.
We were up early and in the airport, chafing once more to be on the way. To be truthful, whilst we have absolutely adored Italy and the rest of Europe, we were so looking forward to England and the opportunity to once again be able to walk through the streets and understand everything.
Ciao Italia, Grazie