Some things are definitely worth waiting for, and a great holiday is one of them. Our 3rd wedding anniversary was fast approaching, and we hadn’t even officially celebrated our 2nd, so we knew we had to do something a little out of the ordinary. Tuscany has always been high up on my travel list, and having been there in 2007 with my best friend, I knew it was time to experience it once again, this time with my husband as my travelling companion and an equal wannabe bon-vivant.
Having looked at the boutique travel service Mr & Mrs Smith for what seemed like an eternity (wanting to book just about everything to go everywhere), we decided on Castello Di Vicarello – a thousand year old castle, lovingly restored by the beautiful and elegant Aurora and handsome Carlo Baccheschi Berti. It was easy to see why it was voted one of the Best Hotels In the World by Tatler a couple of years ago (amongst many other awards and accolades) – this wasn’t a big hotel experience, but more of a private luxury hideaway high up on hills of Cinigiano, surrounded by vineyards, forests and olive groves. Each suite was uniquely styled and decorated by Aurora herself, where little touches of Italy were tastefully married with Indonesian art and furniture that the Bertis acquired living in Bali many years ago. Service was truly exceptional (thank you Simo for being so attentive and wonderful), and the tranquil surroundings the best environment one could wish for as an antidote to a summer of endless work, wedding editing and travel.
And of course, for us and I’m sure for many others, the food makes the holiday. Local ham, sticky and ripe figs straight from the trees, fragrant basil from the local vegetable garden, homemade pasta, a huge array of delicious cheeses, wild boar stews and grape & berry desserts – all from the land, all seasonal and all full of incredible flavour. Not a gimmick in sight – farm-to-table in its purest form. We hadn’t event left yet and we were already looking forward to our next visit, where we are hoping to book a cooking experience with Aurora, sampling more of the local produce and creating dishes from the area. I also found out that Aurora has a gorgeous book titled “My Tuscan Kitchen” which is now firmly on my Christmas wish list (hint hint, Mr H). If you would like to experience the magic of Aurora’s cooking, here is a link for UK buyers – having tasted the food first hand, I am sure you will not be disappointed! Come back again in a few weeks for part 2 of this trip with a flying visit to stunning Siena and quaint little Pisa.
(For my photographer friends here, all images were photographed on Nikon FM2, using discontinued Fuji 800z stock. It was a nice change to see the world in 35mm again, instead of my usual medium format, and shooting at apertures beyond f2.0. Slowly but surely I’m embracing the world of shadows and contrast 🙂 And I must say, Im loving the results, not to mention there is even a rare holiday photo of me, taken by my husband – such a rarity to be IN a photo instead of TAKING the photo! Anyways, enjoy the photos and let me know what you think! Lots of love, Aneta xxx)