Wendy Squires savours the delights of hassle free travel through France and Italy. Here’s part 3 of her story …
On the way to the fruit and vegetable market of Saint Ambrogio in central Florence, we picked up the delightful bon vivant and chef Libero, of Ristorante I Tre Pini fame
Not content with showing us how to cook our lunch for the day, he insisted purchase the fresh produce as well, taking us on a tour of the colourful local markets.
With veges in hand, we headed back to his restaurant in the Chianti Hills, where his staff greeted us with flutes of Diamante Blue, (sparkling wine with a hint of blue curacao for colour and taste) before dressing us in paper aprons and hats to get to work making fresh pasta, biscotti and other treats for lunch.
No one present was immune to Libero’s charms as he danced, dined and drank with us as we were serenaded by local musicians and singers, his lust for life as enchanting as the surrounds he calls home.
It was a lunch that could have easily tipped in to dinner, but an evening in Florence certainly provided a soft landing. Sitting al fresco eating pizza so thin it crunches and crumbles in your mouth in the Piazza Della Signora a with moonlight illuminating the famous Palazza Vecchio tower was unforgettable, as was the stroll across the Pont Vecchio, the golden bridge still the site of Florence’s renowned jewellers today.
The following day we reluctantly left our Chateau for the trip back to Rome, stopping outside of Florence in the hills of Frisole overlooking the city’s Renaissance domes for lunch at Fattoria Di Maiano the elegant estate of the equally dashing Count Francesco Miari Fulcis.
Again, we were treated as visitors to a home –if you can call the city block-sized mansion a home – by the Count himself. Taking us on a tour of the cavernous rooms of Villa Di Maiano (only ever used as a summer residence it’s too hard to heat), used as the location for the film A Room With A View, we were then escorted to the working part of the property to see its organic olive oil production.