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Holiday Diary – France and Italy August 2015 Day 8

Friday 28th August 2015

The castle at San Fabiano had a feeling of peace. Our hosts Beatrice and Andrea were simply lovely, so again we had no urge to dash off too soon. We made it down for breakfast at a quarter to ten and bumped into Andrea as we went down. He asked what our plans were for today so I explained that as we had explored north of the castle at San Fabiano yesterday, today we wanted to explore south and try to find the traditional Tuscan landscapes that you see on postcards. Andrea nodded gleefully  and said he would prepare us a map while we had breakfast. He had a boyish excitement about him as he disappeared to do this, which was really endearing.  

After breakfast he presented his map and explained a few things and then we were on our way. We drove first to Asciano taking some photos along the way of a landscape which was exactly what we hoped to find. From there we went to Chisure. The road to this was nothing more than a dirt track, the village then was small so we carried on heading for Pienza but not before we did another 4 kilometres along s dirt track. It was however a dirt track that traversed some idyllic Tuscan countryside. Be assured then, the Tuscany of the postcards is real!

Our first proper stop was Pienza where we had lunch. This was a beautiful little town with not many tourists about but we needed lunch before we explored. We spotted a cafe serving Taglieri, which literally translates to “cutting board” but meaning a tray of meats, cheese and bread to share, served on said cutting board! Simple but enjoyable. We washed this down with some lemonsoda and then explored the town.


We were intrigued by some large busts, such as the one in the first picture. Then we stumbled upon this one below.

A man was stood next to it being photographed by his wife. It amused me how much he looked like the bust, so I insisted on photographing him as we shared a laugh about this.

A small hotel displayed a sign inviting you to explore their gardens for free. We stepped in walking through the beautiful courtyard above. Photographs were on display on the walls depicting the Tuscan landscapes. They were very good and I realised sadly that our photographs taken on our Fuji cameras will not match up to these. Still once home we will edit them and post up what we have.

The hotel gardens were very pretty and they served lunch in a very appealing setting and this doubtless was what they hoped you would do. However, the big meal we had the evening before meant we only wanted the light meal we had already enjoyed.

Where Chrissie is stood we were looking down at the hotel pool and I saw this shot above which for some reason I feel really pleased with.

We wandered further about the small town. These days with the power of the Internet and television, you can explore the world from your armchair, never leave home. However, I feel that travel and exploring for yourself can’t be beaten. You taste the food of the region, you smell the fragrances of the flowers, you feel the wind. So… Walking down a narrow street our noses were suddenly overpowered by an incredibly strong smell of cheese.

What a fantastic little shop. Back home where we live in Malvern, we shop in Solihull, or Cheltenham or Worcester but the high streets are all full of the same chain shops. Independent shops are hard to seek out and for us Malvern probably does best for this. In Tuscany there are plenty of small shops to explore.

 Off again and our next stop was  San Quirico d’Orcia where we had our by now traditional 4 o’clock ice cream. This was another beautiful Tuscan town and again not too touristy. 

By now we had visited quite a few towns in Tuscany and I was struck by the quiet air of prosperity they all had. They were all very tidy – chocolate box photo tidy- they reminded me of San Marino which we visited two years ago. The graffiti you see in the bigger places such as Rome or Venice wasn’t there. Not all of Italy is like this, but Tuscany really is a beautiful landscape dotted by very attractive towns.

We drove on homewards to Montalcino where we made a brief stop took a few pictures, not even pausing for a coffee. I was tiring and by now we were “Towned out”. 

From here we went back to the castle. We had a 7pm rendezvous with Andrea who was going to tell us the history of the castle, over cheese and wine up in the top of the tower.   

As the day wore on I was aware that I had been feeling increasingly queasy and by 7pm was really feeling quite ill. I think the heavy steak and wine the previous night were more than my body could take. I was feeling very sick indeed. Sadly shortly after Andrea started his story I had to retire to our room where I spent the rest of the evening, enjoying an intimate relationship with the toilet.   We had also planned to have a meal on the first floor terrace on our last night there, so poor P had to eat her meal alone except for about ten minutes when she came and coaxed me out to join her. I sat with her while she enjoyed a mouth watering fresh fruit dessert. It was so beautiful up there in the warm evening air with just the stars and a full moon for company. It was very emotional, a tear escaped my eye, a moment of self pity as I cursed the cancer I fight, that had prevented me sharing this special moment with the lady I love.

I shall not dwell on it but the night got worse for me. Fortunately I managed not to disturb Peanut too much through the night so at least she was fit and well for our next day’s journeying to Venice. 

It had been a lovely day, a special day, a day of memory making and I was glad I did enjoy the terrace with P as she finished her meal. Tomorrow is another day, another adventure and another set of smiles.