Sunday, August 19, 2007

Manciano, as it was meant to be

Tuscany, as always, refreshes my mind, body and spirit. We’ve been here four times, though this is only our second visit to Manciano.

There are the familiar pleasures of the countryside – the flat-topped Aleppi pines on the plains, and the thick wooded terrain, where the cinghiale (wild boar) roams, as the road winds upward through the hills.

It’s too early for the autumn carpet of miniature cyclamen that had me so enraptured last time when we turned onto the dirt road that leads to the villa, and the grassy open hillsides are toast-coloured rather than green .

But there are fresh delights – summer delights. Hedgerows of Queen Anne’s Lace, a white flowering creeper looking like snow dusting the top of the dry stone wall, flowering oleanders in every shade of pink, fields of ripe corn, vines heavy with bunches of grapes and, of course, acres of yellow sunflowers – a little past their prime for the photographer but ready for harvesting their seeds and still a splendid sight.

The pastures have already been mown and the hay bundled into huge round bales, looking like giant reels of golden thread, scattered on their sides across the fields.

I felt so ill for much of last time we were here, still weakened by my Cairo dysentery, suffering complications from my hospitalisation, and nauseous from the cocktail of medications I needed to take – though Manciano, in the end, was the perfect place to convalesce. (If you’d like to read about our previous visit click on the Di’s Diary link in the right hand column, or go to

So returning to Manciano is especially wonderful for me, allowing me to enjoy it to the full. We arrived late on Saturday, around 8pm, as the sun was low on the horizon, and as we sipped our wine to the sound of …. silence … I couldn’t help but think of Michael Caton’s words from “The Castle” –

“Aaaahhh, you can feel the serenity!”

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