29 June - 10 July 2016.
A recent holiday visit to Italy took in parts of Liguria, Umbria and Tuscany.
Cinque Terre (five lands) provided a glorious beginning, set amid dramatic coastal scenery. Terraces of colourful housing built on the rugged, steep, landscape, right up to the cliffs, and the lack of visible corporate development give this portion of coastline a particular charm. From there south for a return stay at Podere La Casellina agriturismo, just south of Florence – Michelangelo and Silvia Bensi live a humble life with their delightful family, fruit picking and offering guests a warm welcome. They make delicious, simple, food in their dark kitchen, which, as it turns out, is a must for my camera.
Travelling further south to Umbria's capital city Perugia, a beautiful city perched on a hilltop, awash with beautiful architecture and an abundance of culture and art. The next day a meander to Viterbo, just north of Rome, a city devoid of many tourists, dirtier in appearance than Perugia. The real pleasure was to be found just up the road, a village called Bagnaia – small and intimate, full of contented and happy people, a real community, in every sense of the word. A barbers shop was open and cutting hair well into the night, children played in the square, families sat on their doorsteps chatting... life seemed good here.
North now to Montalcino, stopping off at Civita, an ancient town, with its 77 inhabitants, positioned atop a plateau of friable volcanic rock, then onward to Pitigliano, a quaint old town known as the 'Little Jerusalem' for the historical presence of a Jewish community. Montalcino itself is another delightful hilltop town, set amongst glorious and far reaching Tuscan landscape. The baker, directly below the accommodation, started work at 03.00hrs – needless to say sleep was somewhat disturbed! The fifth image in this set shows the baker in question carrying a tray of bread across the street to his delivery van.
The final step in this fleeting, and much too short, visit was Volterra, a place I'd travelled to last November during a working trip to cover olive harvesting. Volterra is my favourite of all Tuscan destinations, although I can't put my finger on why.
Next time I travel to this part of the world I must go for longer!