As if eight days in Provence wasn’t enough, now we’re at a farmhouse outside of Cetona, a hilltop village in southeastern Tuscany. There are nine of us here this afternoon with another coming this evening and four more coming tomorrow. Above is the table under a grape arbor in the garden where the action has been centered — lunch, French wine we brought with us from Provence vs. the Italian wine made here on this farm, snacks, seeing how many devices we can get on the internet at once with the extended wifi router from the house where the owners live and two pocket routers on the table. Everyone seems mighty happy so far.
The rest of our week in Provence was as wonderful as the beginning. We continued to embrace the concept of slow travel, and walked to Lacoste on Thursday (and toured the old chateau of the Marquis de Sade, now owned by Pierre Cardin), rather than do the usual tourist tour by driving from one adorable hilltop village to the next. Finding a good walking route through the peach orchards and vineyards between our rental in Bonnieux and Lacoste wasn’t as easy as we’d thought it would be, but lucky for us we met Frank, a friendly British man who visits his friends in Provence as often as possible. His favorite thing to do is walk. We ran in to him going the wrong way on a small road, and he showed us the path up to Lacoste. He also told us about the Gorges de la Veroncle, another beautiful canyon. We walked up the canyon on Friday, past caves and ancient mills.
We did visit some tourist spots, including the gorgeous Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque, a Cistercian monastery since 1148, and the restaurant made famous by Peter Mayles in his book A Year in Provence, Auberge de la Loube. It was a delightful meal and I can see why someone would want to spend a year in Provence.
Now I get to see how Tuscany stacks up against all the other places I’ve visited on this trip where I could imagine spending a lot more time.