Friday, 27 May 2011

Real Tuscany

The mercury has nudged 30°c on several occasions over the last couple of weeks of unremitting blue sky and sunshine. The lawn remains green under shade, but the exposed areas are parched and turning beige.

The Pool

 Good job we finally got the pool filled at the beginning of May. Eight huge tankers of water just about brought the level up to the skimmers, with a blast from the tap completing the job. Some pool guys came to give us maintenance lessons which have added new tasks to our daily routine such as skimming off the flotsam at frequent intervals and randomly rescuing insects ! I was surprised to learn you have to 'hoover' the bottom! Nowadays you can get robots that spend the day crawling around looking like a cross between an armadillo and a mini-Dyson. Perhaps, one day we'll be able to afford one of these.

This month also saw us get our old 1500 litre gas 'bombola' replaced with a 3000 litre capacity tank. Sorry to mix metaphors, but it's like burying a 1 megaton submarine in your back garden with the conning tower just breaking soil. Huge craters made the landscape look disturbingly like the Somme for a while. A few flicks of the JCB bucket smoothed it all out though, while the caterpillar tracks helpfully chewed up and trampled brambles, which up to this point had refused to die. I am in awe of the digger. I never wanted one as a little boy, but I do now! The old tank looms like a giant vacuum flask on the carpark awaiting collection.

Bedside table

The rennovation of 'La Luna' - the third apartment - is almost complete. Bathroom and kitchen tiled, stone sealed, doors planed and waterproofed, kichen re-installed. There are some bathroom and kitchen fittings yet to add, then we are painting it the same shade of clotted cream that we painted La Margherita in the B&B house. A patio area of reclaimed stone, will complete the job, but it is a daunting task unless the weather breaks. Serendipitously we found some bedside tables for La Luna at an artisan & antique fair in Cortona. Following the William Morris dictum, the design is both beautiful and practical – they fit to the wall so you don't have to clean underneath them or behind them. We bartered a bit and got them for a reasonable price from the guy who made them. We were lucky, most things at the fair have two prices – stratospheric and astronomical.

Cortona: Note - No fountain
Cortona is such a tourist trap partly because it's heart-achingly beautiful, but largely because of Frances Mayes memoirs Under The Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany. The saccharine hollywood version includes scenes of a fountain in Cortona's main piazza which doesn't exist in reality – it's entertaining to watch droves of tourists looking for it. There's a bit of a Frances Mayes industry these days – some publisher has even persuaded her to put her name to a Tuscan interiors book! It's reached it's tacky apotheosis when caf├ęs are touting “Tuscan sun salads” in a desperate bid for reflected glory. Better to read Too Much Tuscan Sun by an Italian tour guide that satirizes the genre and has some marvellous tales of tourists who swallowed hollywood's Tuscany but couldn't cope with the real one.

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