About an hour out of Florence sits the little town of San Miniato. There are actually two parts to the town; lower San Miniato, where the train station and more modern infrastructure stands, and upper San Miniato, or San Miniato Alto, which is where we stayed.
Our host, Anna, did not speak a word of English and picked us up from the train station in her little hatchback. As the only Mediterranean in the group I would find these non-English speakers gravitate towards me in conversation – I’m sure in the hope of being understood I was the best horse to back. I scrounged up what little Italian I could remember from primary school lessons – ciao, mi chiamo came easily, but others, such as forza (when asking how strong a shelf in her car was), surprised even me!
We stayed on the top floor of Anna’s three storey B&B in a transformed attic that unfortunately for Buzz, slanted rather sharply at the edges – a terrible situation for his 6’4 frame!
Anna’s entire house was filled with knick knacks, lace doilies, fluffy nighties and we even got a scattering of fabric rose petals across the bed. It was a fascinating example of even though we couldn’t speak the same language, you can tell a whole lot about a person by the way their house is.
Anna was warm and sweet and lovely. While she prepared us dinner we headed out to the first bar we could find, up a steep flight of steps that rewarded us with a view over the valley below. A few glasses of Prosecco were enjoyed in the dying sun as long-legged Italian men in short shorts stretched in the church courtyard nearby – we had apparently stumbled upon the starting line of a race that was about to head through the middle of the town.
However Anna was waiting and we headed back to a meal she had made for us from scratch – first, an antipasti plate with tomatoes, mozzarella, meatballs and sardines – we each got one to ourselves! Homemade pizzas, one with sausages and fresh rocket, the other served bianca with eggplant and sea salt. We then had beef roast and pan fried potatoes, followed by chocolate biscotti for dessert.
None of us felt terribly guilty about any of this as our hike through Tuscany began the next day and it was all fuel for the fire.
We toddled off to bed, full to the brim and excited for our first day cavorting through the fields.