It has been a hectic few weeks here in Tuscany. We have had some lovely guests from the UK staying at Casa Leana and family and friends staying with us. Blissful. We have been missing our loved ones so much over the last eighteen months, even more so than usual.
We found a fabulous new restaurant and had a wine and olive oil tasting, followed by lunch, both venues with the most breathtaking scenery.. can't get away from fabulous views here in Tuscany!
We took Leigh's dad and step mum to Montepulciano and Cortona, two of my favourite towns! We also found some great new places to eat and frequented some old, tried and tested haunts. It all felt so normal and I cannot tell you how lucky I feel to be doing all these kinds of things - I am pretty sure we won't be taking them for granted ever again.
Shortly after Leigh's family left, our lovely friend, Mo, arrived and we started the process of going out and enjoying ourselves all over again, phew.
The only drawback is that I haven't been on my bike for over four weeks so my bottom was feeling rather large in a pair of jeans I tried on yesterday! Hmmm. We have some more friends arriving at the beginning of November which makes us both very happy and smiley as you can imagine although I do need to get on my bike in between visits otherwise once I come out of my baggy summer trousers it will be very emotional trying to fit into my winter attire!
The temperatures have been perfect this month for site seeing, not too hot but with beautiful blue skies.
I think that's it. We don't have any guests this week so we are taking advantage of the Casa Leana pool in this glorious weather.
Have a great week.
D I A N A xxx
It has been a lovely few weeks here in Tuscany, we have had some great guests – a couple of groups from Germany and an Italian family with a lovely dog arrived last weekend and next week we have a family from Holland. Wow, it certainly makes a change having so many different nationalities but everyone seems to love Casa Leana thankfully so if our guests are happy so are we!
It was my birthday yesterday so we have been out quite a lot over the last few weeks enjoying a bit of retail therapy. Don’t get me wrong I do love surprise presents but I also love birthday shopping. First stop was the designer outlet place just outside Florence (The Mall). We had a lovely day there but I didn’t find anything I liked although it was a good excuse for a day out people watching and lunch in the sunshine so I wasn’t too disappointed.
Second up was Arezzo – I purchased a lovely bright green skirt in the sales but that was it, so onwards and upwards (another lunch in the sunshine but who’s counting?!).
On Wednesday we went to one of my favourite towns, Cortona. I just love visiting this stunning place which has the most wonderful views and gorgeous restaurants not to mention great shopping. There are a couple of shops in particular that I love and I always seem to find something that I simply cannot live without! So two pairs of summer trousers later, we stopped off in our favourite restaurant overlooking Lake Trasimeno, Tonino, for lunch and the obligatory birthday Prosecco.
So on the day of my actual birthday we had a quick lunch and Prosecco in Anghiari and then dinner in another one of our favourite haunts, Pieve Vecchia, just a few miles from Casa Leana. Such a gorgeous restaurant and if you are ever over here and fancy an amazing meal don’t forget to ask for a table overlooking the hilltop town of Monterchi and get there in time for the sunset. Heaven.
In between all this Leigh managed to get his second vaccination so we are now both fully vaccinated thank goodness. A little bit of a bruised arm but no other side affects, phew.
Anyway, back to normal this week although it is Leigh’s birthday next Sunday so more celebrations to come. And we are eagerly anticipating the arrival of Leigh’s dad and step-mum who are coming over from Southern Ireland for a ten day visit. Cannot wait to see them, it’s always a lovely treat to have family and friends visiting (even more so this year) so we are very excited.
The heatwave that we had in the middle of August has died down now to a relatively “chilly” 85 degrees so it doesn’t get too hot for cycling which is great. I cycled 91km this week, a bit more than I normally do but it meant the blowout on my birthday felt well deserved!
That’s it for now. Have a great bank holiday weekend in the UK and for all our other friends around the world, have a lovely time.
D I A N A xxx
I do love a market. A great opportunity for a little wander, stopping off for a coffee and a cake or a cheeky glass of Prosecco.
We popped into Anghiari to check out the antiques market which happens the second Sunday of every month. I always think I won't find anything but after a rummage there is often a little gem among the weird and wonderful offerings. Last year I found a gorgeous pair of antique earrings (I am convinced the diamonds are real and there was a mistake on the price) which I love and yesterday I found a lovely mirror which I didn't buy but wanted to! We have ALOT of mirrors at Casa Leana so it was most probably for the best.
On Wednesday we popped into the night market which is always fun. Great atmosphere and live music in the main piazza and some of the smaller piazzas, very romantic! Coupled with a few slices of pizza, gelato and a bottle of wine, we had a wonderful time.
The weather here is super hot (quite a bit hotter than usual at 105 degrees!) so the guests are enjoying the pool of course. It is forecast to cool down to its normal level over the next day or so and we have a day out to The Mall organised - a designer shopping outlet in Florence. I think I mentioned before it's my birthday soon (and Leigh's is a few days after) so we are hoping to bag a bargain or two.
Watering and looking after the pool are the key jobs at Casa Leana at this time of year. The grass isn't growing - just a few persistent weeds so no mowing or strimming at the moment. Thank goodness, I don't think we could cope with that in this heat.
Getting out early again on the bikes and I had my second vaccine last week. Felt a bit sick for a few days but back to normal now, phew.
Well, that's it for now, time certainly flies when you're having fun!
D I A N A xxx
This week we had quite a treat. One of our Italian friends introduced us to a local wine trader and invited him to come to our house for what we thought was just a chat about wine and whether we might like to purchase some to put in our cellar at Casa Leana but they brought some of their wine for us to taste. So we sat out in the garden with beautiful Tuscan views, tasting some delicious wine (2 reds, a white and a vin santo) and had a really lovely afternoon in the sunshine doing one of my favourite things!
It has been another odd season for us. Our usual guests are predominantly from the UK, sometimes we have Americans and Canadians but this year that has all changed for obvious reasons. Last week a really nice family from Denmark were staying at Casa Leana and this week a couple with their two teenage children from Germany. Our next group are actually from the UK but are coming via Germany and then we have some Italian visitors. We are hoping that our UK guests will start arriving from September, fingers crossed.
Another super hot week so, as I’ve said before, the key to going out on the bikes or doing anything vaguely energetic, is to get out early! 7am is a good time for me and we have managed it on a couple of occasions. The other mornings we have been getting up to Casa Leana to clean the pool and water the plants at about the same time.
I really love that time of the morning, after we finish up we meander on down to where my little Fiat is parked through a vineyard - it is such a small thing but every time I walk through that vineyard I get a spring in my step knowing that the pool is clean and the plants are happy. We usually have a basket full of tomatoes too at this time of year. It is truly idyllic!
Wednesday night market was lovely again and we have been out in the Fiat alot as it is such fun to drive. It just makes everyone smile as it honestly looks like a noddy toy car especially against the huge people carriers that are around these days!
With everyone looking on it makes us feel like celebrities although I am pretty sure they are looking at the car and not us even though I have my Sophia Loren sunglasses and scarf flowing ha ha..
D I A N A xxx
We have a family from Denmark staying next week so we have been getting everything spic and span for when they arrive. I cannot believe that Casa Leana generates so much work! Our usual routines have been rudely interrupted by Covid so I think we are a little out of sync.
Spent this morning mowing and strimming and finishing off a few jobs inside the house.
Over the last few weeks we have taken to walking in the mornings or the evenings. It is a bit too hot to go and do anything too energetic during the middle of the day and even though we've also been out on the bikes, walking always seems like a nice alternative in the cooler hours.
Having said that we went out slightly too early last night and by the time we got to our destination I was so hot and bothered I really didn't fancy the walk back! Obviously I managed to drag myself home but future walks will be done slightly later I think. Although we did see a Piaggio, not an unusual sight in Italy of course but I love these little trucks, I've always wanted one to move stuff around. It would have been so useful over the years although Leigh is not so keen, can't think why.
I am pretty sure we could fit in the front cabin together. I think he possibly sees it as too much of a drastic step down from the boy racer convertible Mercedes he was driving when we first met! Ha ha
The summer night markets are in full swing here in Tuscany and we usually go every week during July and August. The one in Anghiari is particularly good and usually has lots of lovely knick knack stalls, things for kids to do plus live music and other live entertainment.
It starts around 7.30pm but doesn't really get going until 8.30pm/9pm. We have never really gotten over our English dining habits which means we normally settle down for pizza and Prosecco at 7pm and often find ourselves walking back to the car at 9.30pm when most of the locals are just arriving! It's a good night though and worth staying until the end (although I am not sure we have ever made it past midnight).
Oh and I got my little car back today. I usually put her away in the garage for the winter and get her out when our guests arrive as when we have to clean the pool and water the plants at Casa Leana, my Fiat is a great little run around and easy to park rather than our giant Volvo which I never drive as I would probably be grazing the pavement or other cars on a daily basis. With the Fiat, it is so small even if I misjudge the distance from the pavement (which is apparently what I do) I am still on my side of the road! Perfect. We got it serviced too which is a must with these old cars.
Last year I broke down in Anghiari on my first run out of the year. Luckily I had parked on a hill so was able to push it and jump start it much to the amusement of the garage owner watching on.
Well, I think that's all my news. The fancy sprinklers are working well, everything around the pool is looking fairly lush so all good. Strawberries are being eaten by giant ants from what I can see which is really frustrating but the tomatoes and the potatoes, you will be pleased to hear, are still going strong.
Have a great weekend.
D I A N A xxx
I haven't written on this blog for a while as I have only just recovered from the Euro finals and in case you've been living on a different planet, England lost The Final (against Italy of all countries!). The evening wasn't helped by the fact that we spent it with one of our Italian friends, hmmm... An amazing few weeks as a football fan with quite a bit of socialising and Prosecco.
Now, back to normality. July continues to be beautiful here in Tuscany as always and we spent a few mornings trying to get the perfect sunflower photo. It’s a bit of an obsession and I never do get that perfect shot but I like to give it a go every year much to Leigh's amusement. Pictures (with my iphone) never really show just how beautiful it is here at this time of year and the fields in the valley below Casa Leana are just a sea of yellow at the moment, I never get tired of "ooohing and ahhing" at this spectacle!
The watering at CL is never ending during the summer months. It’s like having hundreds of baby birds who need constant attention and the worry when a brown or yellow leaf appears is madness but I can’t help it. So the most exciting thing that happened this week was the purchase of a new fancy hose and sprinklers! It will hopefully transform our lives on the watering front.
Oh, and another really exciting event at this time of year are the sales - amazing in this part of Italy I think. Everything seems to be half price or less and we have already been into Arezzo twice this week to go to the same shop. Ha ha. I have grabbed a few bargains, having not purchased anything for what seems like an eternity due to Covid. And I do like to shop in person rather than online so it was a lovely treat to go out and buy some new clothes and have a spot of lunch in beautiful Arezzo.
I forgot about the potatoes! Leigh's stepmum lives in beautiful Bantry Bay, Ireland and she suggested we grow potatoes in one of our raised beds. What a great success - who would have thought, potatoes from a potato?! Ha ha. We're very proud of our haul so far - just dig a few cm down and you come up with a handful of potatoes. We hope the CL guests will enjoy digging for them as much as we do. Little things and all that...
Well, that's it for now. We have a group from Denmark arriving soon so we are giving Casa Leana yet another spring clean.
D I A N A xxx
If you're not interested in football and the Euros then please stop reading now! Oh, we had the most amazing week. Tuesday, England beat Germany in the Euros football tournament. The next round (England V Ukraine) was taking place in Rome.. What? Leigh turned round and said to our Italian friend "shall we try and get tickets?" and our friend said "good luck with that!". Hmm.. a challenge we thought. First of all we got on to the English Embassy as directed by UEFA, that turned out to be incorrect information. Seriously. Leigh then spent the evening checking the UEFA site on how to organise tickets every hour on the hour. He is very determined. We finally got tickets and set off with some friends on Saturday morning on our little adventure. Forgot to say, we all had to have Covid tests the day before and ensure we had our IDs and proof of Italian residency as Italy were not allowing fans arriving from the UK due to Covid restrictions.
What an unforgettable day! Leigh is the biggest football fan and his enthusiasm is infectious. I made a large banner and sewed St George crosses on our face masks with not much cursing, honestly! The banner was super popular and before we got into the stadium we had our photo taken several times - hilarious. It all added to the excitement. The mood was joyous in and around the stadium and even the hundred or so Italian riot police were jolly while checking our details (I don't think our group of five looked particularly threatening).
Several security checks later, on the very last check, the guard took our banner saying that it was a personal message. I have no idea what they were thinking it said but the song the banner refers to was played on the screens in the stadium. Leigh entered into a fairly heated discussion with the guard but wasn't going to push it too far and risk missing the match. But don't worry we managed to retrieve the infamous banner when exiting the stadium. Phew.
The game was a blur with all the excitement and chanting, so many goals (four in total scored by England). The pressure was off after the third goal and even the Ukraine fans were chanting with us "It's coming home"!!!
Half way through the match our 'phones started pinging - we thought our friends may have been commenting on our FB post but no.. the photos that were taken before the match were being shown on the Guardian and Sky News websites. One of our friends commented "you two are everywhere". Ha ha.
On our way out of the stadium the atmosphere was still incredible, everyone buzzing and people asking if they could borrow our banner to take pictures with - that banner! And Italians tooting their horns and shouting "see you in the final".. What a day!
Still not over yet, Wednesday is the semi final and if we get through that, the final is on Sunday. We're spending both matches with friends over here in Italy (with the obligatory pizza and Prosecco) and I am sure most of England will be doing something similar.. Good times.
One last thing that I completely forgot about, The Tour de France is on at the moment and England's Mark Cavendish had his first stage win in five years after a long illness! He cried and so did I. What an incredible week for English sport.
I think there will most probably be one more blog regarding the footy as we have another fraught week ahead hoping that England get through but once the finals are done (next Sunday) we'll be back to the usual relaxed bike rides and al fresco coffees and pizzas. The sunflowers are out so I am wanting to take some pictures. Obviously the best time to do that is first thing in the morning and I haven't been able to get my lazy bottom out of bed for the last couple of days, must be coming down from all the excitement! It's coming home, I can feel it!
D I A N A xxx
If you didn't know or if you're not interested (sorry!) England got through to the next round of the European Football Championship. Very exciting for all concerned even though they didn't play particularly well. I am no expert but I think I could have done better than the £100m Harry Kane shot that went over the bar! No offence Harry but hopefully we will do better in the next match against Germany (hmmm).
I know I always say this but we have been busy again. I am not sure where the time goes really. Sunday we went for a bike ride and then it was Thursday. We have been giving Casa Leana another spring clean before our first group arrive next month, almost there now. We have a new industrial hoover so Leigh is “enjoying” that ha ha
Mowing and strimming as usual. The weather is hot and sunny at the moment so a few bike rides early doors and we have moved out of Casa Leana now, a bit later than usual but it is good to be away from "the job"!
The sunflowers are almost in bloom. I have a thing about sunflowers. I cannot help myself pointing out the fields to whoever bothers to listen even though I know I have pointed them out several times before! It is exciting to see them grow from tiny little buds to enormous flowers following the sun around. I will post some pictures (obviously!) when they start blooming. There are fields and fields of them in the valley below Casa Leana. The farmers, as you expect, change their crop each year, sunflowers one year, wheat another or corn another but there are always lots of sunflower fields just not in the same place. That is of course the reason I have to point them out!
Well that's it for this week. Oh, we had an enquiry for 2024 can you believe?! It was for a school summer holiday week. They sell so quickly. And we sold another couple of weeks for 2022 and 2023. Things are looking good for our little business during the coming years and we're just waiting for Boris to put Italy in "green" so that all of our lovely UK guests can come on holiday this year.
Anyway, that's definitely it for now. We are planning a few nights out this week and we have friends coming over on Tuesday for takeaway pizzas and Prosecco in the garden - €4 for a really lovely pizza and less than that for a bottle of Prosecco - only in Italy! I am a cheap date...
Hope you all have a fun week too.
D I A N A xxx
Welcome to my blog...
Just a little insight into our lives here. After eleven years of living in Tuscany I thought it was about time to have a go at blogging when one of my lovely friends said she had received (what she thought!) was an extremely funny text from me, hmmm.. How difficult can it be?!
D I A N A xxx