Today’s blog post pays homage to David and his new found pipework skills. This task was not an easy one and there moments when we thought maybe we should have got a plumber… but David persevered and was truly magnificent! He did all the copper pipework and plastic waste pipes for:
one tower rail
That is a lot of pipework for someone who had very little experience! David took a week off work to complete this ominous task so I had the pleasure of coming home from work each day to see what he had been up to.
Whilst David busied himself with boss clamps and elbow joints our electrician came and fitted spotlights, an extractor fan and shaver socket. We ummed and ahhed for ages about the light fittings, but you are so restricted when it comes to bathroom lighting that we decided spotlights were the best bet.
Woo hoo!!! We were finally ready for the bathroom to be plastered! I always say that the plastering stage is a turning for a room, and for the bathroom it was a huge milestone.
It was our anniversary weekend so we left the plasterers to it and treated ourselves to a DIY free weekend. It was really nice to be out enjoying ourselves, knowing that progress was being made on bathroom.
Of course we still had a lot more work to do and were a long way off from finishing, but now the two rooms were official one and we could at long last really get a sense of the space.
I appreciate that this is going off topic somewhat, but I am going to justify it in two ways:
The inspiration (and motivation) we get for restoring our house comes from all sorts of things and places, including holidays to Tuscany.
This blog is a great place to share our holiday snaps with friends and family.
Florence. Day 1 – Day 3
We arrived in Florence at about 8pm local time and managed to find our first B&B, Residenza della Signoria, without a hitch. We could not wait to drop off our luggage and get out exploring. Luckily we only had to step out of the front door and we were in the heart of Florence with all its charm. We took a gentle stroll to get our bearings, soaked up the atmosphere and had a quick bite to eat. I had only been in Florence for a few hours but I was in love, this city was enchanting.
After a really good night’s sleep we were ready for our first day in Florence and after breakfast headed straight to the central food market – San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale. We wandered around gazing at all the lovely food and decided to pick up a few bits for lunch. We took our picnic and headed south of river, up to Piazzale Michelangelo. Here we feasted on our delicious lunch and enjoyed the spectacular views of Florence.
We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling around, enjoying our surroundings and letting the stresses of work and life float away. We ended up at a beautiful roof top bar just in time for an aperitif and to watch the sun set.
The following day we decided to visit a gallery and on recommendation of our host went to Museo Nazionale del Bargello. Here we saw some great examples of Renaissance sculpture, but no more impressive than those in Piazza della Signoria. For lunch we headed south of the river to a restaurant we had spotted the day before and had a deliciously long long lunch.
Chianti. Day 4 – Day 7
For the next part of our journey we hired a car – there was really only one car that we wanted so it was with bated breath that we headed off to the car hire company. Thank goodness there was a little Fiat 500 waiting for us! We had to have an Italian car for our Italian adventure!
Our next B&B stop was Podere La Casellina, about half an hour south of Florence, but before checking in we decided to stop off in Greve In Chianti and did a tour of the wine museum and sampled some of the local wine and olive oil.
We arrived at Podere La Casellina and were greeted by our hosts Michelangelo and Silvia whom were both lovely and spoke very good English. After a quick tour and a little siesta it was time for supper, which was served around the family dining table. We ate and drank long into the night getting to know our hosts and the other guests, a family from Prague, Czech Republic. The food and wine, all produced on their farm, was absolutely delicious, real Italian cooking and some of the best I have ever had. A few of Silvia’s dishes included pappa al pomodoro, wild boar pasta, stuffed peppers, ricotta tart and it was all washed down with Michelangelo’s wine, grappa and walnut liquor.
The following day we headed out in the car and drove through the beautiful rolling hills, stopping off at vineyards and cute little towns, each prettier than the next. The landscape really was stunning, as was the wine.
Over the next couple of days we also took day trips to Arezzo and San Gimignano, both beautiful towns and lovely places to while away an afternoon eating, drinking and wandering.
But for us Podere La Casellina stole the show. I can’t quite explain it, but this little farm was amazing and we both felt privileged to have spent time with this lovely family and agreed that it was the highlight of the holiday.
Siena and the South. Day 8 – Day 11
With heavy hearts we departed Podere La Casellina and headed south to Siena. Siena was a bit of a flying visit, a really good pizza for lunch and a stroll around the Duomo (although sadly not in it), so warrants a further visit I think.
Our next B&B stop was Poderi Firenze, about an hour south of Siena. As we headed further south the landscape changed slightly, it was not as green or luscious but was equally as beautiful.
On our first morning at Poderi Firenze we lazed by the pool and soaked up the amazing views, then after lunch drove to a small coastal town about an hour away, Castiglione della Pescaia. We strolled along the beach and had the best ice cream of the holiday. We stayed and had supper – our first bit of sea food. Delicious!
The following day I inquired about visiting a natural spa and was told to go to Saturnia hot springs – a natural thermal bath fed by hot springs trickling down a formation of rocks. It was incredible, you sit underneath the waterfalls and let the flowing water massage your muscles, then wallow in the hot pools of water (about 37c) and let the sulfur in the water heal you of any aches and pains. Bliss!
That night we went to the local town Campagnatico for supper. We arrived to crowds of people – apparently we had just missed the annual donkey race! We did however get to see the winner paraded in the local square and everyone enjoying the festivities.
On our last day we visited Montepulciano and Montalcino, both renowned for their wine. Going on a Monday meant we were limited somewhat (lots of places close on Monday in Italy) but what we did see and taste were fantastic.
The coast. Day 12-15
The next part of our trip took us to the coast for a bit of ‘glamping’. Over the next couple of days we did very little but lay by the pool and go to the beach. Most evenings we made food in our tent, drank all the wine we had bought in Chianti, played cards and laughed A LOT (me and David get very silly when we spend lots of time together!!).
On our last evening we went to the local town San Vincenzo, watched the sun set over the sea and ate lots of yummy sea food.
Lucca and Pisa. Day 16-17
The following morning was an early start to make sure we were cleaned, packed and ready to head back to Florence to return the car at 11am. Once in Florence we wished our little Fiat 500 farewell then hopped on a train to Lucca, where we would spend our last night. Lucca was a great choice for our last night. It is a beautiful walled town oozing with renaissance architecture and had a great buzz. We enjoyed just wandering around all its little streets and chose a nice place for our last supper.
On our final day we walked around the wall of Lucca then took the train to Pisa. It did not really compare to Florence or Siena but we had to see the leaning tower of Pisa before our flight home. Our final bit of excitement before landing in London – Richard E Grant was in the seat in front us on the flight home!
It was great to get away from everything for a while, including the house. It is good to get perspective on these things and now we can continue renovating the house with renewed strength and motivation.