Our recent post on our winemaker friend Remi had me reminiscing about Italy. Years ago, Dave and I went to the country with his parents and spent a blissful week travelling around the Tuscany region.
Memories from a peaceful holiday
Dave’s dad had booked us accommodation at the top of a hill. He navigated the road through it’s tight bends and twists, each hairier than the last. The road turned to gravel and then to dirt. As we made our way higher up the hill, the paths twisting away from the main track became fewer until the only road to follow was the one we were on.
Dusk was falling and purple and blue hues lit up the sky. On one side I could see the mud wall of the mountain covered in vines and ivy and on the other there was a steep drop to the valley below.
Life in the middle of the Tuscany region
We reached the top of the hill and parked the car, stepping out on to a path that crunched underfoot as we made our way to the villa.
Built out of stone, the two story home felt ancient but with the addition of glass doors it had a modern touch. But it wasn’t the building I was looking at, it was the sweeping views below. As far as the eye could see, vineyards growing grapes stretched below. Later that night we’d enjoy the fruits from these vines in a delicious bottle of red Italian wine, but for now I enjoyed the vista before me.
The rolling hills of the Tuscany region were beneath us, painting the landscape in dark greens, patches of yellow and colours of moss. Dotted throughout were homes with red tiled rooves, placed amongst the green like pieces on a chess board.
A mountain range stretched on the edge of the skyline, and as I watched the red sun slowly sunk below the green hills for the night.
An unplanned visit to the romantic town of Lucca
The next day, we piled in to the car again and drove back down the winding road to the bottom of the hill. We drove slowly on the highway, Italians zooming past, some honking for us to get out the way.
We saw a sign pointing to Lucca and without having a particular itinerary in mind, decided to stop there for lunch.
In front of us, ancient walls loomed, a fortress protecting the town of Lucca from enemies of a time long past. Later we would cycle bikes around those walls but for now parked the car and decided to explore Lucca on foot.
Terraced houses with blue and green shutters lined the cobblestone streets, their terracotta roofs gleaming in the sun.
In the centre of the town stood the church’s tower, a large brick structure jutting out from the sea of century old houses.
We headed to the tower, paid a few Euros and began to climb. Mirroring the drive up the hill to our villa, we wound our way up the centre of the tower, climbing stone steps and then metal ones as we reached the top.
We saw the sun pushing its light through the hole in the ceiling and pulled our way up the wrought iron ladder, hearts pounding from the exertion, into the sunlight.
The tower’s terrace was lined with a red brick wall, metal rods on top to stop a fall, with trees somehow growing through the bricks and providing some shade where the sun would otherwise burn. Below us we had a bird’s eye view of the terracotta rooves on top of the homes with whitewashed walls. In the distance the mountain range rose once more, a green wave over a sea of red.
The perfect place to find my symbol of love
The climb had made us hungry, and so we searched for a restaurant to whet our appetites. Crossing the main square of the town, we saw old Italian men sitting on benches, engrossed in conversation. Two elderly women walked by, black leather handbags drawn close to their sides, standing tall and speaking animatedly to one another, gesturing expressively with their hands.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a sparkle in a shop window. I peered in, face close to the glass. Glimmering in the sun was a beautiful diamond ring. I entered and the noise of the outside world disappeared with the soft thump of the door closing behind me.
The husband and wife jeweller team stood behind the counter. I enquired about the ring as Dave and his parents joined me in the store. The shopkeeper retrieved the jewellery from the window and placed it on my finger. As beautiful as it was, it didn’t match my engagement ring.
“I have a ring in the safe out back that I think will work,” his wife said to me, disappearing into the room behind the counter. She returned with an eternity ring, diamonds laced the whole way round the circumference. Exquisitely made, you couldn’t see the joins or the setting. All that stood out were the diamonds.
I think the glow of the stones reflected in my eyes at this point. And that was how I purchased my wedding band in the romantic town of in the Tuscany region.
A day spent in Italy would be worth little without food
We left the ring with the jewellers to resize and took our time wandering down a small lane that jutted off the main square. Under a canopy of leaves we sought shade on tables outside a restaurant. The red and white tablecloth was perfectly laid in silverware and we ordered pasta and pizza, washing it down with a carafe of red.
As we waited for our food to arrive, we discussed my new ring. Dave was so impressed, he suggested getting his wedding band made there too.
I thought it was the perfect idea and as the waiter placed the plates of mouth-watering food on the table, I looked at Dave and smiled.