I just have to mention that we have a house in Italy and people ask if it is available for rent. I now spend six months a year in Italy.
So it’s a good thing I never quite know where a travel-writing assignment will lead me. If I had foreseen my last trip would involve screeching Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”—and screeching it in the home of an Italian nanotechnology professor—I would have been sorely tempted to miss the plane.
The colours of southern Italy are intense: blood-red earth, turquoise sea, silvery-green olive trees. Adding to the artist’s palette, here the bougainvillea was still in bloom, even though it was December. When you see all those colours, you realise that a town and its houses probably shouldn’t be painted anything other than gleaming white.
When we first arrived at the 15th-century farmhouse perched high on a hillside near Lucca in Tuscany, Italy, I thought we’d gone to heaven…without the inconvenience of dying. Inside the historic home’s solid stone walls, the scene is idyllic. The sun streams through the open, louvered screens, spilling over the roses my husband Michael picked yesterday. The décor is rustic but comfortable: an eclectic collection of bubble-flecked glasses; exotic wall hangings; hand-hooked rugs; deep, comfortable sofas; and the farmwife’s mainstay—a huge, lovingly used wooden table.
Bagni di Lucca isn’t on the tour bus trail. Not that it’s remote. Lucca of the medieval towers, one of Tuscany’s great art cities, is only 20 minutes down the road. You can be in Pisa or at the Mediterranean coast within an hour; Florence within two. In winter, there’s skiing at Abetone, around 48 kilometres away.
What Anna knew for sure though, was she wanted to live one part of the year in the mountains and another part on the shore — and most importantly, she wanted to spend at least two months every year in Italy.