In daylight we surveyed the house in its setting. Gosh!
Our hosts had deemed that we were walkers; we were. The walks were their favourites. The Tuscan countryside was sublime. Small but steep hills with not another soul in sight. Often we’d crest a hill and another terrific vista would be before us in the Spring sunshine. Our layers peeled off as we ascended and the day warmed up. It was a true delight and we saw small villages often built on steep hillsides and many fields of olives. We chatted away merrily.
Back at the villa lunch was eaten outside after our first walk
One challenge of having a property abroad is the need to do gardening and/or DIY when you visit. Both Karen and Tony work full time back in Blighty and finding these chores to complete can be a burden. Tony’s ‘to do list’ included resolving a dodgy water pump that sounded very poorly, a dishwasher that wouldn’t switch on (that had worked perfectly until some local friend’s teenagers had used the property for a party) and wi-fi that had stopped working due to problems the provider had created. During the few days we were there he worked his way through these items and all were successfully resolved by ourselves, the plumber or a local handy man.
The latter was a German national called Markus who was fluent in several languages and whilst mainly a gardener had many practical talents that the various expats in the area relied on. When we met he had the new replacement internet router in his van and a plan to prune olive trees. This isn’t a job for a hacker like moi. The tree has to be shaped to enable better picking in the autumn as well as a reduction of too many branches. I’d like to think the Ives’ put their ‘backs to the wheel with a few tasks not least gathering up of branches from around the large garden and creating a bonfire. Such was the too’ing and fro’ing that I clocked up 11,000 steps in the process. Anna did this but also attempted to do some pruning.
As we worked through Tony’s repertoire of home made Italian staples we enjoyed homemade pizzas in the purpose built brick oven and delicious ravioli from homemade pasta. I took several photos as I have no talent and could only look on with envy and gratitude.
All this carbohydrate was vital as the second full day involved more walking. This jaunt took us past the plumber’s gaff. Tony was tempted to knock on the door and enquire as to his overdue scheduled visit? More exciting was the plumber’s private life. He was now partnered with an English project manager/estate agent, who had left her husband, and he his wife to live together. Maybe it could be the start of a racy boxset based on life in the Tuscan hills?
Karen kindly laundered our washing. EasyJet limit your luggage and due to the chilly but sunny weather we found ourselves repeatedly wearing the heavier items of our wardrobe and not the lighter ones we’d also brought. As time rolled by we were on our last night in their company and we went to Sansepolcro to a superb restaurant. Our waitress was nearly worth the visit as she practised her English on us with considerable volume and mirth. I shall never look at a dessert trolley in the same way again. Tony sadly for him, was driving and much of the mirth was left to the rest of us with Karen and myself doing irreparable harm to a very nice bottle of red he’d chosen.
Next morning as we rose and packed our bags there was a new voice downstairs as Tony and Karen greeted Markus. He was here to trim the olive trees and give advice on several matters. Happily and surprisingly he had a new broadband router. As Tony discussed olives I attempted to drag the internet into life. Eventually I got it close to working but was short of a code. Markus had it and the information was typed in.
We munched our toast, hugged and thanked our generous hosts and then pointed the Citroën toward Urbino.