After a long day travelling from Rome north to Tuscany we arrived at Il Diaccino, our place in Chianti for the next week. The villa is beautiful, set among olive trees and vineyards and overlooking the valley. The towers of Siena can be seen on the horizon – just a reminder of where we are.
The terrace is an ideal place to sit and watch the changing view – from the blue haze of morning to the pink sunset of the evening. It is kept cool in the unseasonably warm weather we have experienced by the breeze coming up the valley.
The villa is so comfortable – like moving into someone’s home – and it’s a chance to unpack and settle for a week. Within 24 hours we had managed to catch too much sun by the pool so we will be sitting in the shade for the next day or so.
As part of our break in August we are staying a week in Chianti in Tuscany. Our dear friend Olga with her local contacts managed to find a beautiful villa for us called Il Diaccino. It is a villa located on a vineyard and olive farm and is just down the road from the village on Gaiole in Chianti.
With a pool just a short walk from the terrace and a very local vintage to sample, what more could anyone want?
As our thoughts turn to Italy, a look through the photo album reminds us of time spent around Siena. This photo is taken from the front terrace of the cottage we called home for 6 months at Casavacanza Vesta and is looking towards Siena on a warm October evening.
When we arrived the view was almost completely obscured by trees but while we were away one weekend the kind owners thinned the trees – providing us with this fantastic sunset show each evening.
Every time we walked from the villa to the village of Positano we passed a house that simply had to be photographed. It is actually three apartments that are built, quite literally, on the side of a cliff overlooking the sea and above a private beach.
The setting is stunning and the way the house is fitted into the hill seems to sum up the relationship Positano has with its surroundings. They work in harmony, like that’s the way things have always been. The Italians have a word for this – simpatico.
Little Bella has never really been fascinated with our bath – up until this evening when she jumped in. Luckily the bath was empty but even then she discovered that jumping in the bath is a lot less scary than jumping out.
So she sat there, and sat there, and sat there until she was finally rescued. But not before the obligatory photo had been taken.
Our Italian holiday is less than a month away and we are in the final planning stages. Rome, Tuscany and Sicily are all places we will visit but our base will be Positano.
We have booked Villa Greta for a week in August to coincide with the Festival of Our Lady of the Assumption on August 14th and 15th, which is one of Positano’s most important festivals. To quote the Positano.com website:
The festival both honors the town’s protector and commemorates the ancient legend of how a ship carrying a Byzantine icon of the virgin Mary was beached in the bay of Positano. Not until the sailors gave the icon to the local inhabitants were they able to set sail once more.
On August 14th, the celebrations begin with the so-called “Alazata del Quadro” (“The Lifting of the Painting”) in front of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta. In the evening, a spectacular procession of illuminated boats heads to the “Mamma e Figlio” rocks by the beach of Fornillo before returning to the Spiaggia Grande beach and the Cathedral.
On August 15th, the festivities continue late into the night and conclude with a magnificent firework display over the sea, which lights up much of the Amalfi Coast.
We will be watching from the terrazzo of Eden Roc hotel – one of the best vantage points in Positano.
Having successfully survived Wellington’s recent storm, we started to think of other storms we’d been through – and the one that sprung to mind first was, funnily enough, an Italian storm.
It was during our stay in Positano in November 2011. After unusually good weather we were warned by the locals that the weekend was going to be stormy. It happened to be a weekend when we had visitors from the UK and New Zealand staying with us at Villa Greta.
Now, please understand, by storm we mean weather that was less than idyllic. Which involved wind (a bit), rain (not a lot) and seas that were rough (all to be taken in context of the Med just being a giant bath).
Our Saturday started with a visit the the beach at Positano and a late breakfast at Buca de Bacco. Apart from a strong breeze and the overcast conditions the only clue that there was a storm was the surf hitting the wharf. But despite the poor weather the resident beach artist was painting – as he does every day – a beautiful sunny vista full of blue skies, blue seas, bright sun and Bougainvillaea cascading down the sides of houses on the hill, somewhat at odds with reality.
In the afternoon we drove down the coast to Amalfi. The roads were treacherous and largely awash in places. The Amafi Coast has no real storm water drainage system – other than the water rushing downhill towards the sea as fast as possible – down streets, across roads and over cliffs until eventually ending up in the sea. This system meant we were often driving along roads more like rivers and through villages where every lane was a steam cascading towards the sea.
In Amalfi the sea was crashing against shore and the sea side carpark that we had used only a few months previously in summer was now forming the breakwater and largely underwater. The wonderful thing was that, by the time we had driven up from Amalfi to the top of the cliffs to Ravello the weather had cleared and we had magnificent views looking east along the coast towards Salerno. Normal transmission had resumed.
Through the eyes of an artist it’s always sunny
Waves breaking over the wharf at Positano
Amalfi taking a battering
The carpark has become the beach
More of a beach
Now part of the sea
Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea/Duomo di Amalfi
Amalfi – built into the cliffs of the peninsular
Normal weather returned in the afternoon – Ravello looking east
Last year we spent November and part of December in the small coastal village of Positano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Through November the village is winding down. The tourist season has ended and hotels and restaurants are closing up, taking a break until the next spring.
Eden Roc Hotel was our second home. The Casola family who own the hotel also own Villa Greta – our place, and extended the hospitality of the hotel to us. On hot days we could lie by the pool and evenings out often started or ended with a drink in the hotel bar looked after by the lovely Carlo.
Eden Roc hotel closed at the end of November so on the 30th it only seemed right for us and the dogs to wander the 500 metres along the road and say farewell to what had become our “mother ship”.
Everyone at the hotel seemed relaxed and the wine was flowing a little freer than usual. The family patriarch (who had been quite ill but seemed to be on the mend) was in the hotel and insisted on buying us a drink or two or three. It ended up being a big night.
Which explains the photo – taken about 3pm the next day – when all the Mowday girls were sound asleep on the bed, one of them nursing a sizeable hangover.
Yesterday we lost our wee girl Daisy. After fifteen years and seven months her big heart finally gave out and she slipped peacefully away. We will miss her terribly but we will always remember the stubborn and determined, but intensely loyal and devoted little girl she was.
Our lovely vet Laura has, for the last year or so, referred to her as our medical miracle – which she was.
We will think of her simply as our Daisy, our little girl.
Daisy 1997 – 2012.
Daisy asleep in the cottage on our clothes – Tuscany, June 2011
Every time we arrive back at Villa Greta we are met by Daisy and Poppie. They are so pleased to see us and it doesn’t matter how many times we come and go we always get the same rapturous welcome. For those of you who don’t know them Daisy, being nearly 15 years old, is the slower one. Poppie is the one with her favourite toy in her mouth.
I’ve shot a bit of video in Italy over the last few months but now have to relinquish the crown of family filmmaker to Jean. Prompted by our departure from Tuscany at the end of October she put together a movie about our cottage.
Jean shot it so we had something to remember the cottage by but I thought it was worth sharing.
In using a single handheld shot for the whole movie she follows in the footsteps of great directors such as Hitchcock, De Palma and Scorsese.
Just up the road from us there is a villa (well what was once a villa) which commands a great view of the area and, in it’s day would have been a grand place to live.
It has an internal courtyard and part of a roof. As with many old villas it has no real foundations so would require a rebuild from the ground up. But, given the laws around older villas, you couldn’t change the design during the renovation – or even add in any doors or windows that aren’t already part of the structure.
This type of property, as is, on a couple of acres of land around here – about €500k. Any takers?