Which isn’t entirely true, as I can rustle up a few choice words to get by if I’m pushed. But more serious Italian is definitely on the cards for next year, regardless of where we spend our 2011 hols. Unfortunately my phone’s ‘word a day’ Italian app didn’t prove to be quite as useful as I’d hoped. Try as I might, I simply couldn’t manage to squeeze collezionare francobolli (to stamp collect), zio (uncle), attrice (actress) & Vietnam (Vietnam) into a conversation!!! Must try harder next time… Apart from a honeymoon in Venice (which is practically a separate country) & a couple of days in Milan (which was all too brief), we’d not really ‘done’ Italy before. So this year we decided to give it a good go and booked a renovated old house in Tuscany for 2 weeks. The drive down took us 3 days and included a far from impressive crawl through the Mont Blanc Tunnel. I’d always expected that thing to be immense (that’s the tunnel not the mountain, which was)!!! Once down in Italy and a good time was had by all… The scenery was stunning, the food was the best we’d had for a long time (and we do rather like our food!!!), the wine was ridiculously cheap (no comment!!!), that tower was still leaning and the sun shone. Yes the Italian’s do tend to drive like maniacs, but you just really need to get into that mind-set and join the club while your there, and yes the beaches were rather private & exclusive, which was a bit of a shame. But on the whole we came away rather liking Italy. The people were lovely and I think we’d like to see a bit more of them… After the language course, of course!!! And before I start doing my accounts (which is what I should be doing right now!!!), I need to mention a few must see places… La Canonica – The holiday cottage we rented in Tuscanay is beautiful. About 30 mins from the coast and great views across the valley from the garden. Has it’s own outdoor pizza oven (just remember to flour your pizza scoop/paddle to stop them sticking). A great little place and we’d thoroughly recommend it. Portovenere – A small coastal town near La Spezzia. Very, very beautiful. We spent far too little time there, but did have the best seafood pasta we’d ever eaten. Arrive early to get a parking spot. Pisa – Do I really need to say why people need to see Pisa? Sawyer was convinced that Bob the Builder could easily sort out that wonky tower San Gotthard Pass – I may have mentioned this before, as we did this last year as well, but it’s so breathtaking it deserves a second mention. High in the Alps you’ll find a road that links southern Switzerland to the Swiss/German border. If you’re in a hurry then there’s a tunnel. If not then there’s the Pass. I’ve done the Pass twice now and all I’ll say is… I can’t ever imagine being in a hurry to drive this route. B&B ‘t Walleke – This place is an absolute gem and part of me doesn’t want to shout about it too loudly, in case it gets booked up when we want to go back Just like last year, we ended our holiday with a 1 night stop in Bruges and just like last year, we stayed in the truly amazing B&B ‘t Walleke. We knew very little about the place last year and had booked it purely because the name had made us smile!!! It was such a shock when we found it. I could write reams about this place, so I’ll try to keep it brief… Imagine if you will, an episode of Grand Designs, but set in the fairy-tale city of Bruges. Nestled amongst the old quaint & quirky chocolate-box buildings you’ll find ‘t Walleke. The ultra modern & high-tech little place only has 3 rooms, but if you can get one you must give this place a go. I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed, especially if you find the roof terrace with it’s fridge crammed with stupidly cheap & insanely strong local beer!!! The owners are simply lovely and will do anything for you.
And now for my accounts and a few holiday pics