The Frenzy in Firenze

October 26, 2006 at 11:05 am (Uncategorized)

We have decamped to the Tuscan hillside after a frantic Florentine fiasco – just too many people pushing, shoving and queuing their guts out to make it a particularly holiday-like experience. I know it’s time to leave when I start to feel like pushing back, hard, walking stick or no walking stick. Out of my way, biddy, I am getting into that museum at all costs. Actually it was a French woman of uncertain age who made me realise I was not long for the city. We got to the Uffizi at 8:30 yesterday morning hoping to cut the crowds off at the pass. Sadly we were not the first to hatch this cunning plan. Standing in line nursing a rather vicious hangover from the opening night of ‘The Festival of Llew’s Birthday,’ I was jostled from behind by said Frog. The people ahead of us were talking in French, and so she charged past me, insinuating herself into the space ahead of me by starting a conversation with her compatriots. I know they didn’t know each other because even I, with my appalling Year 8 language skills, can recognise ‘Excuse me, please.’ Strangers, but immediate bosom chums. She refused to make eye contact with me, preferring to engage in animated chatter and cosy-making laughter with her new friends. Whenever the line surged, she verily clung to their coat tails. By the time Llew returned bearing coffee and panini, I was dreaming up all sorts of inventive ways to kill her and get away with it in time to still see the Birth of Venus. Die, queue-jumping bitch, die.

Luckily for her, we were all let in at once, otherwise I might have been compelled to reach forward beyond the barrier and forcefully pull her back by grabbing a fistful of her hair. Once I knew she wasn’t gaining any particular entry advantage by her deceit (how close is the descent into savagery…), I became almost benevolent in my attitude (“No, no, after you, I insist…”), but resolved to flee Firenze and get some peace and quiet back. Well. Mission accomplished.

We are now in the best place I have ever been in my life. It is an 11th century monastery that is now a vineyard, hotel, and restaurant set on its own hillside. We seem to have struck travel gold, because it’s the start of the off-season, evidently, and we have been rewarded with an enormous, palatial suite at tiny pig sty prices. We enjoyed the superb degustation menu with matching home wines in the restaurant last night for Llew’s birthday, we’ve sat around in the genteel living quarters reading books about artist Jeffrey Smart  this morning (whose work I have long admired – he seems to know the owners, a family who have held the property now for something like 180 years) and now we’re leaving to enjoy the brilliant afternoon sunshine with a walk to the village. This joint – Badia a Coltibouno – has to be seen to be believed.


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