Is this the most perfectly Tuscan pic? Aside from the crappy sky. There was a ladder, an old bike and a low-slung chair perched against an olive tree. Hello, is there a Vogue stylist walking ahead of me? I thought, as I hummed my way through Boyzone’s hitlist (ok, so there IS a downside to solo walking).
Other highlights included the thermal baths at the hilltop village of Bagno Vignoni (population 53), where 40-degree waters gushed from the hillside into the public pools or, if you were a tad more posh, the Hotel de Terme, with its newly built bathhouse, all glass roofs and walls, so you could bathe in sunshine and waters designed for soaking thighs weary from schlepping up the hill to get there. No wonder it was a hot spot on the old pilgrim route to Roma.
Weirdly, when you photograph Tuscany, with its crumbling stone, washing strung outside the windows and old-fashioned signs, it looks so poor. But those leather boots and hand-crafted cheeses will strip your euros from your pocket faster than you can say ‘artisanal fromagerie’.
The landscape was all green, lush rolling hills often cloaked in a veil of rain (let’s not be picky here, it had to get green somehow), and rows of Roman pines that had me thinking back to the opening scenes of Russell Crowe’s house in Gladiator. Tacky, I know but your mind plays with your mind when you’ve many hours alone.
And the trip couldn’t go without a mention of the Eurostar from Florence to Milan, which hit speeds of 300km/hour, with barely a jiggle.
PS other hits from the Tuscan mental soundtrack included Jimmy Barnes’ Cheap Wine and the War of the Worlds soundtrack. A tough one to sing along to, but consider it achieved.