Last night I went to Tuscany. San Gimignano to be precise. Oh, the food, the wine….
Yeah, okay, so I didn’t really go there. Well, not on an aeroplane in actual person. What do you think I am, a movie star?
I did, however, buy a bottle of Vernaccia di San Gimignano and make homemade ravioli. And I listened to Italian music while I wrestled with the pasta machine. (There may or may not have also been some choice Italian swear words in action.)
I knew you were busting to ask that.
Two lovely friends are currently living the Tuscan life on the trip of a lifetime in Italy. They’ve been posting photos and stories on Facebook and I’ve been reminiscing.
Yes, we did once fair dinkum go to San Gimignano.
On a seven-week European odyssey with three small boys in tow (ages 11, 8 and 5), we had wisely booked a week in a small Tuscan town at about the halfway point. We didn’t know it was wise at the time. The wisdom only became apparent when we got there after our previous stop in Nice included the line “I’m over it! I want to go home!” That was me. As chief travel agent, tour guide, purchaser, cook, washer and seemingly font of all travel wisdom, the pressure was building. The opportunity to stop and breathe in one place for a week brought sanity back to us all.
Sometimes the significant travel memories that stay with you are not about awe-inspiring art or impressive structures or spectacular landscapes. Sometimes they are about living the life, feeling a part of a community of which you are a part for just a tiny moment. That was Certaldo for us. I’d managed to book a three bedroom apartment in a former 13th century palace with a tower where you could sit and see the towers of San Gimignano in the distance for only AU$800 a week.
Of course, first impressions count when you travel and the fact that we arrived on the weekend of their annual food and wine festival may have had some impact on our positive experiences. We didn’t know it was on when we booked. Another of those serendipitous moments that make a holiday special.
It was like it was all meant to be.
We relaxed, shopped at the market, read books, ate a lot of good Italian bread and cheese and made day trip forays into neighbouring tourist centres such as Sienna and San Gimignano. We didn’t have a car so these were accessed by public transport. There’s nothing quite like squeezing onto a crowded local bus to make you feel a part of the community.
It was a favourite moment in our holiday and I can’t help thinking that its impact was greater because it came at just the right time. We headed off after our week-long stay with renewed energy and patience.
I’d love to go back but I suspect that it wouldn’t be the same.
In the meantime, I’ll find the odd bottle of Tuscan wine in the local Dan Murphy’s, drag out the pasta machine and relive la dolce vita at home.