What feels like a lifetime ago now, but was, in reality, just a few short months ago, I visited a little pocket of heaven on a foodie holiday to Tuscany.
It was, in short, idyllic. Heart-burstingly wonderful. And, as per usual, almost all too difficult to put into words. So I won’t, yet, I’ll say it with pictures.
Food pictures, naturally.
My arrival on this particular gastronomic trip, however, was anything but idyllic.
Landing late from a dreary london into the sweltering, disorganised melee of Pisa airport isn’t much on the best of days. Even less so on a sleepy Monday afternoon, when most members of staff seem to have decided to take an impromptu holiday and the ones who are there look at you with undisguised hostility at your audacity at interrupting their espresso break to ask in broken Italian about local trains.
A frantic sprint, a rickety train to Lucca and a taxi later, I was sitting, panting, dishevelled and probably looking every inch the pink-skinned idiot tourist, in the back of a taxi whose metre was currently reading a four-person plus luggage load and whose charge was soaring about on a par with my irritation levels.
As I smiled through gritted teeth at the grinning taxi driver, we rolled out of Lucca’s heaving city centre towards the the tiny green speck of Ponte a Moriano and, along the way, something miraculous happened.
As we began to climb the winding roads with the heat of an orange sunset spilling through the windshield, the stress of travelling began to melt away and, as we swung through the ornate gates of Villa Bocella, it felt less like arriving, and rather more like I was coming home.