Monday, May 10, 2010

We'll pass on the Pass and go down to the hollow...

After checking the weather forecast the night before, it looked like a safe bet for a trip down into Tuscany to the Grotta del Vento, a series of caves near Lucca. We decided to get up early and head out, up and over the Apennines and Alpi Apuane, hopefully to arrive some time before 11 o'clock.
The morning weather looked mixed, not helped with spots of rain falling from a seemingly cloudless sky overhead. Very strange. Still, after Bruno had checked the bike over, we set off. Armed with a Google Maps printout, the route looked fairly straightforward, but as seems to be normal with Google Maps, the minute you take to the road, it all gets a bit confusing. We knew we had to head up and over Passo delle Radici, but Google Maps seemed to have us twisting and turning all over the place. We decided to stop at a petrol station at a particularly confusing junction to check on whether we were going the right way. The guy in there's eyes nearly popped out of his head when Claudio explained where we wanted to go, and with some concern on his face asked if we had snow chains. That didn't bode too well in my opinion. Never mind, onwards and upwards, literally. The higher we climbed, the more the weather seemed to be closing in, and was really quite scary when an icy wind with spots of rain also whipped up. With the real threat of snow at this altitude, the decision was made to abandon this trip for another day a bit closer to the summer, and head down again.
We headed towards Pavullo, via Lama Mocogno where we had a warming cappuccino, then off again. On the way down we saw a lovely black cat that had just been knocked down and killed. I felt sick and so upset. From that point, what with the overcast sky yet again, in this so-called crap Spring we're having and an unusual feeling of unease on the bike, I'd had enough. The curves and hairpins that we go round that are normally so much fun, were just an uncomfortable inconvenience, as were the cars constantly driving right up our rear end. I just wanted to go home and curl up in the warm with the cats.
Luckily, Claudio had a cunning plan that I was unaware of, and we were in fact heading to a fabulous "agriturismo" he'd had a tip-off about that was near Pavullo. We arrived down a narrow, winding lane that eventually led to a small collection of stone buildings making up "Agriturismo Due Papaveri". We hadn't booked but fortunately the lovely owners, William and Charlotte were able to accommodate us. William is Italian and did most of the renovations on the buildings himself. His wife, Charlotte is from Denmark and is an absolutely fabulous cook. After a look around at the rooms where you can stay, and the beautiful swimming pool, we went inside to one of the small, intimate dining rooms to find a table prepared for just the two of us and a wood-burning stove blazing cosily away in the corner. We settled ourselves in for a delicious home-cooked three course meal, prepared with local ingredients. Just wonderful!

After lunch we went to sit outside in the sun which had now made an appearance and was pleasantly warm. Relaxing outside, we could hear a cuckoo in the nearby woods and watched great tits flying backwards and forwards to one of the many nesting boxes William and Charlotte have put up on the trees. The location is truly beautiful, set in a sunny hollow, surrounded by woodland and meadows, and the place itself decorated in a clean Scandinavian style, with other ethnic touches here and there, such as two magnificent African masks in the dining room.
After chatting with William and Charlotte, promising to return to sample the rhubarb they have growing, we headed home. Thanks to Claudio for saving the day!

1 comment:

  1. God, I'm so jealous ! I'm gonna stop reading these !! Denmead just doesn't hold a candle to these places.