It’s only Day 3 and we’re already getting into a wonderful routine of shopping at our local supermarket, Simply … yes, I know, not very Italianate but their tagline is: Semplice La Vita, which means “A Simple Life”, I think alluding to convenience, but there’s also an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, a bakery, and an amazing deli of hams, meats, cheeses. Certainly, this has been the Pandora’s Box for our home-prepared artisinal meals every evening on our Tuscan terrace, hot orb of a sun sinking behind us (there are still streaks of light in the sky at 10 pm!), pheasants croaking below us (we have yet to see one in full view, only seen a long-tailed silhouette), and vineyards radiating to the horizon.

You’d think I was the linguist but Hirsh is proving amazingly adept at a combination of pidgin Italian, gestures and finger-counting, always teasing appreciative smiles out of the servers, many of whom have a zero repertoire of English. Nevertheless, we leave with ginormous mutant green olives (and succulent black ones), wedges of pepperoncini (chilli) and pistachio Pecorini cheeses, bressaola, prosciutto and salami, and crusty fresh bread. For coffee, our apartment has a small Italian espresso maker that sits on the stove and brews coffee with a strength that is growing hair on my chest.

Today’s drive through very green wooded hills and wheatfields past cypresses and a sprinkle of poppies took us to Monterrigioni, a walled fortress-precinct on a hill (too touristy for us but I got some good pictures!), and Radda, a lovely village we’d like to explore further. A few close-collisions included a hulking minibus overtaking a bunch of cyclists on a blind rise, which meant it was in our lane bearing down on us on a tightly walled road with nowhere to go. So Hirsh slammed on breaks and just before turning us into a road ornament, it cut in. “That was interesting,” said Hirsh calmly. The next episode was a great reticulated truck thundering around the corner on an equally narrow road, hooting loudly at us because we were in the right spot in a correct lane and he was going far too fast for his size and load. Actually, I think he was warning us to get the hell out of his way. We survived.