Tuscan walking tour in a nutshell: So much walking! So much rain! Not enough sit-down time! Too much food!

I would like to think that my eating activities have been balanced by my exercise activities, but I think not. In a classic ‘eating to feel better’ move that could be the US’s motto for the global recession, my spirits were restored after a 22km hike through the Tuscan wilderness and rain with dinner in the hilltop village of Montalcino, trying a local Tuscan pasta, pici, fat, hand-rolled spaghetti strands doused with a wild hare ragu. The alternative was the wild boar ragu. It’s surprising in such a cultivated landscape there are still so many rampant animals roaring around – deer ran past me, hares sat on quiet roads…who knew I was about to eat them? I also had a glass of the region’s famed 2001 Brunello di Montalcino (7 euro/glass) and tried the 2000 for good measure -putting the miles of vineyards to the test.. If you were to find yourself in Montelcino, I thoroughly recommend the Albergo di Giardino on via Cavour, and the owner, Mario, also has a few self-contained apartments in town as well. There was no breakfast, so it was two brioche (croissants to the rest of the world) and two cappucinos at the bar, where you had to elbow out the road all the old men knocking back shots of red wine to get your breakfast.The hilltop town is riddled with picturesque corners and even more picturesque old people, and walking down its flanks the next morning toward the ancient Roman baths village of Bagno Vignoni, the sun was finally making a show, and I spotted this old guy tending his geraniums. “I am a journalist…” I started in my slummy Italian, before he interrupted. “You want photograph me?” He’s done this before, I thought… then I papparaz’d him.