On the First Day of Christmas…

One Perfectly formed Italian Man… named David. 

I love aeroplanes. If you don’t, you should, and if you still don’t , you should read The Lost Girl by D.H.Lawrence. Imagine how much easier life would have been for Alvina, had she been able to rock up to Gatwick and be almost immediately transported to a gentle Italian paradise, in the same way that I was, the weekend before Christmas.

I love Italy. If you don’t, you should, and if you still don’t, you should read this. I was lucky enough to be able to stay with Linda and Bruno in Santa Fiora, in a beautiful little house carved into the cliffs. It was so cosy, and with such welcoming hosts, I immediately felt at home. Although I don’t think I would ever get used to waking up in the morning to such a stunning view!

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Santa Fiora itself really is gorgeous. For me, it was totally idyllic, and even when the thick fog rolled in from the mountains, just wandering the little cobbled labyrinth of cats and cliffs was a real joy. My favourite part, I think, was the Peschiera (above left), where monstrous prehistoric sturgeon lurk in the depths! (above right) It’s difficult to see in the picture the size of this fish, but just imagine that if the Peschiera was the criminal underworld, this guy would be The Godfather’s Godfather.

Even though I could have happily spent days just wandering around the supermarkets and drinking Cappuccino (and almost did – trying to navigate a one-way shopping channel and resolve a Parmiaggiano/Padano fiasco), I feel like I saw so much of Italy in just a few days.

Even my eating habits were charmed by the local cuisine, and, after devouring a pizza or a pasta dish or a platter of salami, I would send Linda and Bruno into hysterics by sitting back and declaring that I ‘really am a fussy eater!’. I probably ate enough pasta and pizza and salami and Carciofi (Artichokes) to last me a lifetime, but that didn’t stop me bringing back a full luggage allowance of it! Bruno gave me a masterclass in proper pasta, and we made some delicious meals. (Below: Linda and Bruno in Florence)

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The architecture everywhere was incredible, the attention to detail and huge skill and effort involved produces some absolutely breathtaking sites. Even the little hill towns are a complicated feat of engineering, and if I were to live there I would get so lost and confused that I would certainly lose my own house on a worryingly regular basis! I would also stuff myself so full of food and coffee that I would need to buy a bigger house, and I would probably lose that too. Definitely worth it though, these places are incredible.

I was so frustrated to not be able to speak Italian, so I was very lucky that Linda was such a good translator! Visiting Pina and Pietra (Linda and Bruno’s friends) was lovely as Pina is studying English and e could talk conversationally. We brought a home made Carciofi dish and Pina supplied so much delicious food that, much to my annoyance, I physically couldn’t eat it all. They were great hosts and I felt so at home, definitely an evening that I will remember with fondness for a very long time.

Florence was a massive highlight for me. It has so much character. I love London, but I think Florence is a very close second, there’s just so much there that is good and beautiful!

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After walking around the city (most of which time I spent with my mouth open, or else walking into things as I was too busy staring at everything around me!) We saw David, who is probably my favourite thing in the whole city. He is just so perfectly detailed, you can see the time and effort and blood, sweat and tears that has gone into his creation. Much like the rest of the city, no detail is too small.

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Also, I found this guy, who was all like ‘GET OFF MY HEAD!’ and this guy, who was all like ‘GET OFF MY LAND’, and this Lion who was all like ‘Don’t make me drop my shield and come after you, you sign stealing punk, I’m like a coiled spring up in here.’

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I was so happy to be able to meet Bruno’s son and his girlfriend for lunch. I have no idea what we actually ate, apart from that it was yummy, of course, and I was so busy chatting to Mattié and Alessia that it passed too quickly! Alessia has travelled a lot, including to Japan, so we had a lot to talk about, and thankfully her English was a thousand times better than my Italian! The more I met Italians, the more I was beginning to think that all of them were just lovely, nice people, and I was very sad to say goodbye to Mattié and Alessia! (Although I must apologise as I have no idea how to correctly spell Mattié’s name!)

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We visited beautiful Sienna as night fell, and ate Pizza overlooking the beautiful Christmas market – Heaven!

Pisa was our last stop before returning to the airport, which was quite sad, but it is an intriguing city. Again, the architecture just amazed me, and I of course had to do my bit to prop up the tower!

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I had a great time hanging out with Linda and Bruno and I am so happy I can go back to Italy in May! I have definitely fallen for the country. I just don’t know what it is about Italy; the views, the people, the food, the architecture….

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Or maybe it’s this hunk that I managed to bring home in my hand luggage… 😉

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With so much love and thanks to Bruno and Linda for having me to stay and being such amazing hosts.

MTG, PV x

P.S, My blog has changed its look a bit (it’s a dedicated follower of fashion) It may change back, not sure. Opinions on the back of a postcard please!