A week ago late last Friday night I returned to my hills with a vow that never would I leave them again in the summer to go anywhere else.
When you have perfection somewhere in your life it is absolute folly to seek elsewhere for everywhere will be less than. A disappointment, a failure, a travesty.
But I had committed to my sister and another friend from Sydney to travel for a few days in southern Tuscany and Umbria so we set out on the appointed date for Todi, a walled city in the province of Perugia. I’d been before; a number of times years ago when we used it as a stop-off to Rome airport. Then it was lively and interesting. Now it was full of shops covered in ‘affitarsi’ signs – empty and waiting, probably in vain for a new tenant. Our apartment – when we found it – had all aspects of loveliness but on further inspection, not quite. The wi-fi did not work, there was no fan in the bedroom, there were only 2 chairs for the three of us and it was a long way all uphill to town. Nevertheless a wonderful lunch awaited us in the restaurant opposite and we vowed not to complain – me especially. I just wanted to be in my paradiso.
We explored lots of small towns in the area over the next few days, loving Spello and Spoletto where our visit corresponded with the last night of their annual cultural festival so our time was well spent observing the glam (and no so) of the local glitterati as they wobbled off on their high heels down the cobblestones (well the women anyway) to the final concert.
Arezzo was our final stop and it too was lovely if not stifflingly hot but we had a pool which, once we had read the myriad instructions necessary before entering, was indeed lovely and refreshing.
An early start on our final day to deposit me at Pisa airport where I took a plane to London to change and fly off to the opening night of Graeme Murphy’s rendition of Swan Lake with the Australian Ballet. It was utterly brilliant: the best I’d ever seen, poignant and emotionally draining and typical Murphy.
Hugo’s Graduation with a First Class Honours Degree followed the next day and it was a wonderful celebration for his father and I and some of his friends. Afterwards we sipped champagne in the magnificent gardens of Regent’s University London before cocktails at Simpsons in the Strand and a gorgeous dinner at Rules in Covent Garden. Later we all went separate ways and I was happy to be heading to my lovely flat in South Kensington, alone, single and fancy free and proud both of my son’s achievements and my courage to leave a difficult marriage almost a decade ago.
Some frenetic days later I found myself surrounded by oranges and oleanders in sunny, arid Valencia and on my way to the Melia resort in Benidorm to support a 9-day Life and Wealth Mastery event of some 200 participants from around the globe.
Always fun. Dancing. Singing. Coaching. Laughter. Listening. And at the end of the day some fun meals in the best restaurants in town after fighting our way through ‘the great unwashed’ – hundreds of sometimes drunk and always noisy tourists in town. Not my idea of a holiday. Ever.
Back to my peace and tranquility with Connie and to a meal in my barn lovingly prepared by Craigh on his second visit to my piece of heaven. And fresh figs from my laden tree.
To sleep in my own bed and wake up to the pink ribbon of dawn over my hills and the chirping of the swallows darting outside my window was indeed heaven. And I firmed my resolve never again to leave in the summer to go anywhere but the markets or the odd restaurant because I even prefer to eat at home – the simple fare from the best quality produce available in this magnificent country.
A week later and joined by Cynthia we have (separately and individually) acquired some 13 pairs of shoes from my friend Roberta in Castlenuovo, enjoyed several market days, shared drinks on my terrace for the barn guests, entertained friends for a wonderful dinner, spent many hours poolside, read a book or two and enjoyed a wonderful lunch at my favourite La Baita, high in the hills and run by 3 generations now for 43 years.
Today is is stormy and I am very happy for my growing veggie garden. Later I will go and inspect and smell the powerful fragrance of my herbs hiding amongst the aubergines and zucchini, capsicums and artichokes, beetroot, carrots, lettuces and radicchio.
Right now the church bells are telling me it’s noon. Down the valley they will ring in a few minutes from one town, and a few minutes later from another – a reminder that even in these magical hills nothing is perfect.
Until next time