There is something amazingly relaxing about going on holiday to the same place every year.
I’m not quite sure what it is. I suppose that because you can anticipate, with such certainty, the rhythm of the days, life takes on an inevitability which is absolutely and utterly calming.
And so it is – thanks to the great generosity of my friend Valentina, and her beautiful farmhouse (which you can of course stay in, more details here), where I’ve been on holiday for more years than I can almost remember – that the days take on that gentle pace: waking early, visits to the local town, doing nothing at all in the heat of the day except sleeping, reading in the shade, or swimming in the pool; drinks, sunset, amazing food, games and conversation deep into the dark warm evenings.
In short, heaven on a plate (of pasta).
A few scenes from Gaoile in Chianti:
And from our daily visit to the greengrocer:
or to one of the best butchers in Italy – Chini brothers (some more nice photos here):
where we would go every morning to consider the menu for the evening; and where, can I confess, I am particularly in love with the floor?
One evening, we went over to our friend Catherine’s house, just across the valley, taking in the magical distant view of Siena on the way…
I don’t think I know a more beautiful house in the whole of Italy.
Another morning, unexpectedly (given, um, the amount I had drunk the evening before) I woke at dawn, surprisingly clear headed, and walked up to the local castle, Cacchiano, where there was a superb sunrise. The place commands a vast valley, with views across to the other Ricasoli castle at Brolio, and back to Siena in the distance… this time gleaming in the morning sunshine…
I love that little white fiat perched on the edge of a precipitous wall. With not very much to stop you going over.
And every evening ends sitting on the ledge of the old barchessa, drinking too much wine, and drinking in the sunset. Quiet days in Chianti: but right now, who would want anything else?