The autumn sun, with a temperature more akin to summer, added a further glaze of warmth to the terracottas, yellow ochres and greens plus the wines and olives of Tuscany.
The temperature in the Scottish Borders had dropped to single figures when we flew out from Edinburgh, but on our arrival in Pisa at just after nine o’clock in the evening it was a balmy, shirt-sleeved, twenty two degrees.
The rich colours of the Tuscan landscape are embroidered by the shimmering grey green of olive trees and neat running-stitched rows of vines, their grapes at this time of year picked and undergoing transformation in stainless steel vats.
Our host, Pierluigi, was off into the Tuscan hills the day after our arrival and offered to take us with him to show us some vineyards. That was an offer that couldn’t be refused, to see the Tuscan countryside and sample some of its produce.
Montecarlo perches on a hilltop surrounded by vineyards. Tenuta del Buonamico had a striking modern shop and impressive terrace tasting area alongside the vibrant green roof of the wine cellar sunk into the hillside.
Here we were offered a tasting of two reds and a white, probably in the expectation of us buying a couple of cases for dispatch back to Scotland. As out Ryanair baggage allowance would scarcely accommodate one bottle we settled on buying a few for holiday drinking.
A short drive brought us to Montechiari where more traditional buildings nestled in garden surroundings of pencil-slim conifers and terracotta pots, with the mellow view rolling away to distant blue hills. Here wine is matured in stainless steel vats with the superior quality wine cossetted in oak barrels.
Montecarlo is styled a wine town, citta del vino, with the main street depicted as the street of wine and oil (olive, of course).
Some of the old houses boasted coats of arms on signs hanging from the buildings like traditional pub signs. Family and provenance are obviously still important.
Fattoria Il Poggio is a popular bus tour stop and our arrival coincided with that of a party of Austrians who made for the tables laid out amongst the trees to sample food and wine. For some reason it reminded me of a school trip to Germany very many years ago, when instead of wine it was beer being quaffed. Here we bought a few more bottles of wine (well, we were on holiday!) and a small bottle of local olive oil.
Florence is better known for its art than wine
but even here Tuscan wines are widely promoted, and there was no better way of rounding off our visit to the city than by sitting at a café table by the Duomo, Florence’s stunning white, pink and green cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. A glass of white and a glass of red wine cost 16 euros (much more than the bottles we had bought in Montecarlo) though they did come with a plate of crisps, peanuts and wonderfully large green olives. It was probably one of the most expensive places to order a glass of wine, but the setting was unique and the ambiance indescribable. Of such stuff are memories made.