Continuing the series of travelling through Italy with my family in the European winter….For me it did not feel lIke Christmas because we were havIng a white Christmas. Funny – that after all those years of seeing ChrIstmas trees with snow on Christmas cards….!!! and now when I am surrounded by them …..it does not feel lIke Christmas because our Christmas in Australia is sweltering – opening presents with beer and nuts and fantastic ham with cranberry sauce…
Here in Italy they have lasagne in the Christmas meal which I find unusual – would you want to eat Lasagne for Christmas, when you have it all the time throughout the year???
I spent my birthday driving from Liguria to Grosseto and went out to a Pizzeria wIth a mixture of Australian and Italian friends – a bit of a change from the recital I have for my birthday back home where all my talented friends and family perform.
We have had such an eventful week since I last wrote that I do not know where to start. The most wondrous was openIng this huge three meter door at a hotel in Perugia UmbrIa, at 5.30 am and receivIng the biggest shock on seeing the white snow. We had not seen TV or heard the news so we did not know it was going to snow….
The landscape had transformed overnight into a magical fairy land. It was unbelievably beautiful. The only problem was that when we went to get our car which was parked streets away, it was covered In ice on the windscreen which by then was frozen solid into a 10cm block that one could not break with bare hands. I had to make a little hole in the ice to drive back to the hotel and get bottles and bottles of water to get the ice off so we could drive. The drive was spectacular with all of Tuscany covered in a foot of snow – very, very beautiful. Perugia was gorgeous with the Christmas trees, Christmas lights and choirs singing Christmas carols in the streets.
A bit slippery walking around in the snow so I made Henry and Ju go on either side of me to support me when walking down hills like an old grandma. However Henry would dump me as soon as a pack of adolescents came along!! The kids have been tremendous, taking everything in their stride. They know now not to say ‘wow’ when we are travelling over high bridges so not to scare mum. Some of the heights of the autostrada make me giddy so I cannot look down. It scares me witless. How they make these roads I do not know. Driving is good now. I am used to it.
We drove back to the villa In Chianti from Perugia whose garden looked so different from the week before. Trying to get up the Villa driveway In the snow was a bit hairy and slippery. The villa inside was by now like a giant igloo. I even said ‘Imagine how horrible it would be to have been born an Eskimo’!!! We were horrified to find that there was no water working in the villa. All the pipes were frozen and it was minus 12 degrees.
So we had to pack up the next day after only unpacking the evening before and head off Into the wild white yonder as no water means no shower, no toilet or being able to cook. I wanted to get the hell out of there before it snowed again and we became snowed in. So we headed to no snow country in southern Tuscany. I think I have seen enough beauty but there it is again – country that knocks you out with beauty. The rolling green hills of one of my favourite places in Italy – the Val d’Orcia!
Ah -here we are now on an historical estate that runs the whole hamlet and they have made all the houses into holiday houses. See Clementine on https://www.passIonforItaly.com/VIllas-near-SIena-Tuscany.htm.
The apartments have been restored to perfection with extremely good taste and beautiful decor. The fireplace here is the length of one wall. I just love this place. Here we are warm as toast here with all the modern comforts in an ancient stone house. The weather has been a bit wild and woolly with abnormal winds but the views take your breath away with 360 degree vistas as we are high on top of a hill. Went to visit two of my favourite villages – the picture perfect villages of Montepulciano. “New Moon” – the Twilight film was filmed here in 2009 and Pienza is where one of my favourite films ‘the English Patient’ was filmed.
We spent Christmas day with my friend and her family eating lots of Italian food fit to burst and our hosts on the sheep farm we stayed at made us a special large nativity scene for our apartment and offered us their house specialty of sheep’s intestines stuffed with mince and wrapped in bacon. It tasted delicious but unfortunately having seen it made from scratch I could only stomach one and I could not talk the family into eating them. Yes we are a bit squeamish not eating much offal in Australia. We waste a lot of food this way but it ends up in pet food. However we are too spoilt with too much land, sheep and cattle, unlike a lot of other countries and we do not know how lucky we are!! It certainly was a very different christmas day away from our other older children and large extended families. However like all the other days it went too fast.