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la mia vacanza in Toscana* August 18, 2007

Posted by nicholas gill in language, thoughts, travel.

*My holiday in Tuscany

[update 21.08: thanks to Martina for the correct translation. Damn those Google language tools] 

spam tuscany


In July, we had a frankly fantastic holiday in Tuscany and for the first time ever, Jude & I seriously contemplated how we could live out there. Here’s my snaps. Here’s some highlights:

On the Friday before we left

I was up at 3am to finish a presentation that needed to be delivered that day. Yes, 3am. I considered staying up late but then I’m better in the mornings. I finished it by 8am and then had to do most of a days work. Not recommended. However, the evening brought much cheer as we went to see Ricky Gervais at the Portsmouth Guildhall. I quite like the Guildhall as it has good acoustics and the staff seemingly completely comprise old dears replete with blue rinses. Anyway, wasn’t quite sure what to expect as although a big fan of the Office and a latecomer to Extras, I had never seen him live. But I laughed my ass off. Very funny with a great observational style. Wish he’d have been on longer.


For once not having to get up at death o’clock for an EasyJet flight as we didn’t leave till 11. A quick trip to Gatwick and then the tedium of airports, the highlight of which, was the new Dyson hand dryers in the traps. Like having g-forces applied to your hands. Does the job better than anything else though.

Anyway, short little bus ride from Pisa airport to the car hire terminal next door and the proud recipient of a key fob stating nuevo croma. We’d ordered a Volvo S40 or equivalent as there were 4 of us and when there were 3 of us on the Amalfi Coast last year it was a little too snug in our funky Alfa 147. A little more space would be good. But had no idea what a Croma was and suspected a Fiat (and was right) so I located the car hire company car park and sought out the number plate. My heart skipped a beat and the desire to stomp back to the desk started to well when I thought the registration matched a poky Fiat Cinquecento or similar. Only to have a moment of huge relief when I looked opposite and discovered I was one letter away. The car was suitably big enough, akin to a Ford Focus estate. More than took the luggage and the 4 of us. Quite comfortable. OK in straight line. But take a corner and it steers like a ferry. Bloody awful car.

A two hour drive ensued which went fairly quickly thanks to most of it being on motorways at plus 90/100 which makes you wonder why we can’t legally travel at these speeds. Highlights of the journey were a) only having one argument about directions (we went wrong only the once and this was probably my impatience with hindsight) and b) being overtaken by a Golf with the numberplate CCO 000 CK (i shit you not, I may have the wrong number of digits but it definitely spelt cock). Continuing that theme, here’s some chicken we didn’t buy in the local supermarket.

cok chicken

The instructions from the holiday company were spot on until the very last when it curiously told us to turn left after a dustbin. OK, which dustbin? Anyway, we finally deduced it and found the villa at the end of the lane where we were greeted by Marta, Giancarlo and Theresa. Who spoke no English which made for some comical exchanged involving lots of “si” and “grazi” and hand gesticulation. We worked it out. Suffice to say the villa was amazing. Here’s some shots.

view from villagarden


A bit of orientation to the nearby towns of Castigliano di Fiorentina and Arezzo. And Giancarlo came by in the evening to tend to the grounds and surprised us by offering us some of his own home made wine from the vines in the grounds. Italian red is good at the best of times but oh my god this was bellissimo!!!! And he offered us some more as the week went on. And some vegetables and salad from his plot. He was such a lovely, kind and generous man. I wish I could have understood what he was saying but we managed to communicate enough to know that he gave us these gifts from his heart. Bless!


After figuring out the route the day before we set forth to Arezzo as the regional home of jewellery. And found none. But I did find some beautiful buildings and a sculpture exhibition at the top of one steep hill.

arezzoarezzo 2sculpture


Siena, the home of the Palio. Architecturally stunning and such a lovely maze of streets and shops. I bought some business card sized paper with a hand printed “N” on them from Il Papiro where they hand-make the paper. Quite nice if one day I decide to do my own thang.

sienasiena 2siena 3


Discovered that Giancarlo had about 20 hams hanging in his store room as well as his never ending vat of red wine. And I helped my mum start to learn to swim. By the end of the week she wasn’t doing too bad and could just about manage a width using a float. Lets hope she keeps it up. I seriously contemplated a career in teaching about 8 years ago, perhaps I may even have been good at it after all.


Can’t remember so here’s some sunflowers.



Pienza. Had a belt made by a local craftsman. Such passion and precision for his work.

belt manpienza door


Came home. Bugger.

For ref, we booked with Cottages to Castles



1. Martina - August 19, 2007

ciao Nick, the right translation for “my holiday in Toscana” is “la mia vacanza in Toscana”… la mia festa in Toscana actually means “my party in Tuscany”… 😉
ciao ciao


2. nicholas gill - August 20, 2007

@ Martina
Thank you! I will update asap, damn those Google language tools.

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