Own Private Tuscany: A Typical Day in Paradise
Most days start off in much
the same way in our rented farmhouse in Southern Tuscany: I am gently
pulled from a delicious slumber by muffled noises in the kitchen
and the crowing of the rooster next door. A quick peek behind the
curtains reveals another clear, crisp autumn day and the local farmer
on his tractor ploughing the field directly beneath my window. As
I duck below the windowsill, I catch his friendly wave out of the
corner of my eye—I’m glad I brought my flannel pyjamas
for these cool mornings!
People are beginning to wander into the kitchen
from their rooms (nine of us on this trip). The espresso maker has
been filled and a pot of milk has been placed on the stove for caffelatte.
Someone has sliced the crumbly unsalted Tuscan bread, setting it
on the table with sweet butter, fig preserves from the agriturismo down the road, and a bowl of the season’s last white peaches.
Conversation is muted as we struggle to wake up. The first sip of
the dark bitter coffee brings us to life and the talk turns to the
upcoming day. Someone suggests a hike from Pienza to Montepulciano
with a stop for lunch in the striking medieval town of Montichiello.
Others would like to prowl around some of the nearby hill towns,
do some shopping, and stop at a rustic inn for lunch. A few are
content to stay at the villa, read a book, take a swim and just
absorb the silence of the countryside. Slowly we disperse to shower
and get dressed.
Four of us have decided to simply jump into one
of our tiny rental cars and see where the road takes us. After a
brief glance at the map we are on our way. The countryside is just
as one imagines it—a postcard-perfect fantasy of hill towns,
ancient farmhouses, rolling bare fields (this is autumn, after the
grain harvest), and painfully picturesque stands of trees, seemingly
planted solely for aesthetic effect. Our first stop of the day is
the town closest to our villa, San Quirico d’Orcia, and since
this morning’s coffee didn’t quite remove the cobwebs
from last night’s multi-course dinner and free-flowing Vino
Nobile di Montepulciano, there is no argument when cappuccino at
the bar on the main square is suggested. Rejuvenated with caffeine
and pastry we wander through San Quirico’s quaint streets
with its churches and walled gardens, and stop in at a linen shop
where we marvel at the vast assortment of jacquard towels and tablecloths,
selling at a fraction of the cost of those in specialty shops back
home. We make a few small purchases and plan to return for some
serious shopping before leaving Italy. Read On...