Back to Citta della Pieve but this time via Florence, or rather a village overlooking the classical city.
We managed the journey in two days with one stop in France at Arcis sur l’Aube. We have stopped here before and at the wonderfully gothic B&B. This also gives us a chance to stock up at the local Carrefour supermarket on locally made blackcurrant jam, which is simply the best and most delicious.
Instead of going through the Mont Blanc tunnel, as it was a lovely sunny day we thought we would take the scenic route over the Petit San Bernard pass. It was lovely and saved us over 40 euros in tunnel fees, quite apart from allowing Daisy the chance to paddle in a mountain stream, which she enjoyed hugely. After several dozen hairpin bends we finally reached the Italian side and the town of San Vincent, another place we have stayed in before. So, after settling in to the Hotel La Poste, we went to the local wine bar where they stock some great examples of Aosta wines as well as good food. Too tired for the speciality dish of toasted raclette cheese and all the trimmings, we opted for an antipasto plate of local salamis, hams and cheeses, Jamie then had the herb gnocchi with pancetta and I went straight to the violet panna cotta pud.
The reason for our stop in the Florentine hills was an eBay purchase of a very elaborate wardrobe. When I was looking for a wardrobe and saw that an English guy was moving back to the UK and needed to clear one, it seemed a perfect coincidence. It is so wonderfully over-the-top with painted panels and old gilded trim. It is apparently an original 18th century Florentine piece and such a bargain price; not something I would have chosen back in the UK but here, in the lovely golden morning light, it looks fab.
So we picked up one half and then the next day returned to collect the rest and very generously, Alan, who was selling the wardrobe threw in three lovely terracotta troughs decorated with swags of fruit, that he said would just have been left behind otherwise. Not sure how he could bear to leave the valley but family ties are dragging him back to the banks of the Thames.
When we arrived home, temperatures had dropped significantly thanks to a couple of thunderstorms. The garden had survived and more than that had come up trumps with crops of chillies, tomatoes, grapes and wonderful melons.
After a dinner (or two) pat Coppetta’s and a lunch at Serenella’s, it’s like we have never been away. We also came back to a wedding invitation for our friends S and A. After a civil partnership in the local Town Hall (no gay marriages here) some 300 guests will party the night away in the Relais del Castellucio, built by the illegitimate love-child of King Vittorio Emanuele II and her lover at the beginning of the century, but that is another story.