A weekend with Gill

Our dear friend Gill popped in for the weekend. It’s easy to say, but “popping in” meant a ridiculously early flight for Gill from the UK on Friday morning to Pisa where the entire Mowday clan went to pick her up.

It was great to see her and the girls got straight down to business. Three bottles of Moet disappeared almost immediately followed by a couple of bottles of Chardonnay (one a kiwi chardonnay saved especially for the occasion) over a dinner of Jeans famous roast chicken and potatoes. Suffice it to say Saturday started slowly in the cottage.

There was a little “pool time” and then dinner in the Campo at Al Mangia. Because the Campo is being prepared for the Palio on Saturday 2 July, barriers and stands are in the process of being erected and we had dinner in what is soon to be the middle of the racecourse on 3 inches of hard packed clay with race barriers on each side. Imagine having dinner on the finish line at Trentham racecourse and you’ll get the idea.

Dinner at Al Mangia sitting in the middle of the Palio track

All around us Campo life continued as always with bars and restaurants doing their usual business – but all in slightly surreal surroundings. It wasn’t quite what we expected or had planned. Jean being the control freak she is spent the first 15 minutes saying “this isn’t right, no, this isn’t right” repeatedly and wanting them just to “put it back the way it was” but Gill pointed out it was a truly unique experience. A couple of bottles of wine and an excellent meal helped everyone mellow somewhat.

We will see Gill and family again in late July and can’t wait.

Catching up with Kate

Last night we caught up with Kate and her family who are spending 2 months travelling around Europe. Kate used to work with Jean at Clemenger but she is currently based in the UK with her partner.

Jean had put Kate in touch with our villa wizard friend Olga when their trip was being planned but made sure to recommended a villa we had stayed at previously. Villa Crognole is a beautiful villa tucked into the Chianti hills with a view down the valley towards Radda.

We called into Crognole yesterday afternoon for a drink or two along with Olga and her husband which meant the afternoon was spent sitting in the sun discussing travel, news from home, and any other subject that wandered into people’s minds, all in a mix of english, italian and kiwi.

We went to dinner with Kate and her family at Le Vigne restaurant just outside Radda. It was dining al fresco with a view over the vineyards that produce some of the great Chianti Classico wines.

Dinner was lovely and all done on Italian time. That simply means that the wine and various courses rolled out through the evening until we finally left the restaurant, just before midnight.

Good people, great company and truly la dolce vita.

Our photo album

Jean and I have taken hundreds of photographs over the last few months.  We’ve put a selection of them into an album on our MobileMe site.

There are some shots we have used in the blog but a lot of new ones.  Follow the link and have a look.

We’ve got mail

One thing we pondered when we arrived at Casavacanza Vesta was whether letters, packages or parcels from home could find us.  While almost all of our correspondence is by email or text, we thought there may be the need for good old fashioned postage.  You know, documents that need signing, letters that need reading and packages that need opening.  Could the Italian postal system work it’s magic and deliver mail to our door?

We have mail.

Jean’s Mum helped us out by mailing a test letter a fortnight ago and the good news is it arrived yesterday – lovingly delivered by Mrs Patritzia.  She seemed a little surprised to be the final link in the Poste Italian supply chain as I suspect we were the first guests in Casavacanza history to get mail.

So, gentle reader, let’s put Mrs Patrizia to work, feel free to write or, even better, send presents.

Monday night takeouts

Monday nights are rapidly becoming takeout pizza night.

Parked for pizza.

The little pizza shop in Monteroni D’Arbia now has two regular kiwi customers who are working through the menu with gusto.

One thing that we have to perfect is getting the pizzas the 5 km to home hot.  The first step was streamlining the pickup – which Jean achieved in true Italian style.

How serious are we about learning Italian?

Pretty serious it seems.  I wandered into the kitchen (dining room, lounge) the other day and saw the note below taped up above the kitchen sink.  It’s the stuff we need to learn this week – the irregular verbs avere and essere and all their various permutations.  Sigh.

The note on the wall.

Summer in Tuscany

In an earlier post I bemoaned the fact that when we arrived in May, Tuscany was green – bright green – not the usual mix of faded summer colours that, for us, have always defined the area. What a difference 6 weeks makes.

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