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Under the Tuscan sun

I have often heard that travelers form their first impression of the visiting country by her airport. I personally form it from her taxi drivers. For instance, you quickly get that Germans and Swiss Germans are a little tight-ass, that you don’t get to mess around with the baby seat – the rule is the rule and they don’t care that the little one cries to death after traveling for 15 hours. In this spirit, Italy felt just like home: not only did the airport taxi driver did not even mention the baby car seat (just like all the other drivers by the way) but also he shoved all the bags in the car, and the five adults including Papi at the back with Baby Samurai on his lap and the stroller falling on his head. And then he drove just like an Indian, the phone in one hand, taking tight turns. It was such a soft landing for us!

In many aspects, Italians are the ‘Indians of Europe’ or ‘white Indians’. The way they are attached to their mother and family – even though here I am just talking about their reputation, I didn’t experience it myself – seems quite similar. Quite easy going, warm and relaxed with the rules people. And the crowd in the streets of Florence, it was as bad as Old Delhi, simply suffocating! I don’t have any other generality to share about Italians, except that (almost) all we met were very friendly!

We just had one incident: as I was parking, my neighbour thought I scratched his car while I just left some dust and possibly slightly scratched the varnish but really I don't see how I was very careful and my favorite Indian was watching from outside). He was yelling “va fan culo” and other insults, becoming red-faced. My favorite Indian was remaining very calm (luckily he didn't understand Italian) and if I had not been so worried watching the reactions of my husband, I would have gone and slapped this angry fellow myself! When we left, leaving him disappointed by our very calm attitude, what do you think he did? Bah he scratched our vehicle. Brrrravo!

I loved the landscapes of Tuscany, and its steaks and ice-creams and pasta. I loved the Chianti, Montepulciano and Brunello (local wines) and hated its bread which is made without salt (an aberration).

We had decided to take it easy and spend the week moving only in Tuscany. We visited a few medieval villages that abound in the region – and they are either dead (nobody except one or two oldies on a bench) or packed with tourists – but especially at night, when we had to go hunt for food. This will definitely leave a special taste to the memory of our holidays! And then we mostly got lost on dirt roads.

India,Italy,Tuscany,AgriturismoWe would decide at the last minute about where to sleep (which would not have worked well in full season I think) and would usually end up in an Agriturismo. Beware, an Agriturismo it is not as romantic as it may sound, unlike what I had imagined. I had indeed a very picturesque view of this form of accommodation, with beautifully renovated farm buildings and where the guests can milk the cows and pick tomatoes. Well it is nothing like that! If the buildings are generally quite charming, all these are working farms. The owners are very busy during the day, and not necessarily inclined to entertain the city dweller who wants to play farmer for a day. And if it is one of these farms who use tractors, well there will be noise – you can bid farewell to the nap under the olive trees to the sound of silence! And in those where they keep animals (and we’ve not seen many in Tuscany where they are more about wine and olive oil production), well you’re not in the zoo. So better be aware.

We first spent a few days in the vineyards where my favorite Agriturismo was the 7 Camici, where you can watch the sunset over the vineyards from your natural hot pool):


India,Italy,Tuscany,AgriturismoWe then landed in the South, near Grosseto, in a farmhouse with a huge plot (Tenuta San Carlo) where we could see cows, ducks and rabbits, climb discreetly on the parked tractors and ride a bike to the beach, play with the dog and our Baby Samurai was happy. So we stayed there for three nights.

India,Italy,Tuscany,AgriturismoAnd to end our trip on a high note, I booked (at the last minute and it was Easter weekend) in a Florence hotel near the airport, which seduced me with his baroque style – I found it sad to spend the last night in Italy in a Novotel or an Airbnb: the Villa Villoresi. It takes some time to get used to the very ancient house, its heavy paintings, its 80-year-old owner-manager from another time, and the ‘Butler’ who carries the suitcases in a blue jacket and serves dinner in a gray one. Our room was a tiny not-so-comfortable closet but we had been warned. In short this place is a little creepy but you can start warming up to it after 2 glasses of Chianti!

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