Hello, Toscana!


So, I sit on an open terrace guarded by giant terracotta pots of trees and herbs, with 180-degree views of dips and rises unspooling to the skyline. Over here, silvery-green olive trees and rolled hay bales, there neat regimented vineyards and a horizon marked by long thin cypresses. It’s a Tuscan cliché. But an eternally beautiful cliché. It is a picture one never seems to tire of. Especially now that, after the long-haul flight, I feel like a person again.

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Flying with Alitalia was interesting. Our (male) flight attendants were Italian-beautiful, all angled cheekbones and wavy dark curls, with that proud air of detachment to match. In spite of a large Boeing 777 bulging with its tired and irritable human cargo, they seemed immune to any sense of urgency. The pace, from one end of two very long aisles to the other, was supremely unhurried and relaxed. They were on a Sunday drive. When we dared ask for a second glass (plastic cup) of red wine to medicate ourselves into sleep, they lanced us with a searing look that said: You’re asking me to go get your next drink? We learned fast. Go fetch it yourself. Which we did.

The drive, via a very pretty Etruscan-era Old Town, Orvieto, built on a cliff-top of tufo volcanic rock, was enlightening too. Italian drivers quite enjoy straddling two lanes, even on the highway. They’ll slowly creep across the centreline, no indicators, and stay there, until they’re pushed out of the way by a faster vehicle or they actually want to be in the right-hand lane.