The evening was lilac with pink roses, from the high terrace of the village called Radda our glasses of red wine held up in the sun, and the moon floated like a white petal between them.
A choir was singing in the church so we sat on a pew and closed our eyes for a while listening to heaven.
Saturday morning saw us pedalling past green vineyards. Little did we know what was coming.
First a very fast downhill. I whizzed down at 58kms per hour, which is a record for me, and I don’t intend going faster than that ever again. Simon went much faster.
But then the really-really steep uphills began.
We rode up and over wineries, olive groves and oak forests.
I stopped to wait for Simon under a tree, a luxury granted me by me electric bike. Luckily for us, a group of very happy people from Treviso stopped there too, for a sip of Prosecco in the shade of an old farmhouse. Corrado came over and invited us to join them.
We had a lovely noisy rest there and exchanged contact details.
When traveling by bike you really notice the ground, how it passes beneath you, changing colours and stones. You feel the wind dragging off the back of your arms like silk scarves. Sometimes you hold your breath when a truck goes past or a ditch of sand pulls you into a sideways skid. I’m getting better at hopping off without hooking my foot on the water bottle.
Insects often collide with your face.
Road things: Lizards, and lizard tails, small sharp white stones and flapping butterflies, 3 snakes (2 squashed), some unfortunate hedgehogs, african hoepoes, cuckoos, motorbikes, tractors, vans, and the scent of olive trees in full blossom.
My camera’s extra-wide-angled lens has an annoying way of flattening the landscape…
This was our last day of riding together, as Simon must to return to work. So we took it slow until lunchtime, when by chance, we found the perfect spot at Casa Nuova
The owners, a very nice Dutch couple, Ulla and Thierry have renovated the villa and made it spectacular. They are good friends of Maló and Guido (with whom I am staying now).
We had been there together for dinner about a year ago and loved it. Not realising it was the same place (night and day difference), we turned in and recognised the garden. Had a long chat and delicious lunch. Ulla has published a cookery book of their own recipes (written in German).
It was time to face the last long uphill to our destination, the magical home of Maló and Guido at Poggio Pratelli (we all share the privilege of grand-parenting Elia, our gorgeous grandson in Oslo).
And so we arrived by way of a gravelly road to find a bottle of excellent Prosecco from the family estate, Torre Degli Alberi, waiting for us in the fridge.
The garden is dripping with roses of all kinds, lavender and blue cornflowers, rosemary and poppies….
Sunday morning sunshine filtered through the vine leaves, dappling the veranda table. Maló makes the most delicious food; salads and wild strawberries picked from the garden and olive oil from her trees.
The four of us “nonni” bragged on about the pure wonderfulness of grandchildren, and made a toast to Elia who was at the same moment enjoying a 1st birthday picnic with parents and friends at the lake in Oslo. And to gorgeous Mikey who had just caught his first Australian fish, aged 2,5 yrs.
Sunny Sunday morning. Simon rode off to the train station. We watched him go, until he was just a speck on a far-off farm road, then he vanished into a forest.
I felt quite bereft.
Simon sent me this picture from the train station. So he did actually reach it in time.
I was very pleased to be invited to go with Maló and Guido to their good friends for supper. This is the view from their home overlooking Florence. We talked a lot about routes and bicycles.
Weather predictions for tomorrow are rain and wind. But I don’t believe it, and will head off at around 9 am. Maló is helping me find the track.