Thursday, September 25, 2014

Italian Countryside Idylls

We've visited the Val d'Orcia several times and never tired of it, and this time we are staying smack in the middle of it, in a villa rented by friends who kindly invited us for the week.  The villa is one and a half kilometers down a dirt road between Pienza and San Quirico d'Orcia and looks out on rolling hills crowned with other villas and farmhouses.

We've hung out at home and made excursions in the area.  A couple of days ago we drove to Siena, which has the most extraordinary cathedral I've ever seen, a fantasia of different colored marble on the floors and walls and the instantly recognizable stripes of the exterior, which are repeated inside.

Driving at night is not a lot of fun, no lights, winding roads, wine-influenced drives.  I've preferred the evenings when we all cooked at home, sipping and talking into the night.  We've had a wide range of weather these last days, from heat enough to tan by the pool to shivering cold to winds that blew the outdoor umbrellas 100 yards across the fields.  Yesterday we went into Pienza for lunch and a bit of a walk in the moderate rain.  This morning is bright and sunny and feels like fall.

This is the country and the country comes with animals.  I don't begrudge the field mice their attempts to join us indoors, but our fellow guest who sleeps on the first floor of the villa is less sanguine.  She prefers not to share her room with the critters and has moved to the bed in the loft.  Height from the ground doesn't seem to deter the small scorpions who also live here, one of which was found crossing the floor of our hosts bedroom the other day.  I've been shaking my shoes out before putting them on.

We have another couple of days here before going back to Paris.  There is a strike of airport workers scheduled on our travel day but theoretically it will be over before our scheduled flight.  Theoretically.

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