Would the book/film ‘Under The Tuscan Sun’ have met such great success if it had been entitled ‘Under The Tuscan Rain’? I doubt it. Of course Tuscany, in the minds of most romantically inclined foreigners, is synonymous with sunshine. If you’ve only ever spent a couple of idyllic sultry weeks in our fair region it’s easy to forget that the very varied Tuscan landscape, with its mountains, valleys, coastal plains, extensive forest, vineyards, olive groves, and stereotypical fields of sunflowers bordered by sentinel cypresses wouldn’t exist without the rain. It’s obvious when you think about it, but of course tourists don’t come here for the rain?
The lesser known region of Lunigiana, in northern Toscana has many hidden gems tucked away amongst the green folds of its hills, valleys and Appennini mountains, and Serena and myself have always enjoyed discovering and exploring them. Most of them can be visited at any time, but a few are only accessible on specific dates, or are only worth visiting under certain conditions. One such place, which we had intended to visit for several years but only finally managed it a few days ago, is Villa La Pescigola, near Fivizzano which is famous for its vast quantity and variety of narcisi (daffodils). Take a look at this satellite map to get an idea of its location, the surrounding landscape, and the roads which we had to follow in order to get there, which are represented by those wiggly yellow worms.
Allora, domenica scorsa, siccome la pioggia ci ha dato un attimo di tregua, abbiamo deciso di farci un salto. In più, mia suocera Rosanna, che ha quasi ottantaquattro anni, ed è sempre stata una grande appassionata della natura, era disperata di scappare dal suo appartamento in città. Nel frattempo un paio di nuovi amici, che abbiamo conosciuto poco tempo fa, ci hanno telefonato per chiedere “cosa fate domenica?” E quindi sono venuti anche loro. Ma cosa ci aspettavamo di trovare alla Villa La Pescigola? Ecco qualche foto dalla pubblicità turistica.
So, last Sunday, seeing as the rain gave us a moment of truce, we decided to take a trip there. What’s more, my mother in law Rosanna, who is almost eighty-four, and has always been passionate about nature, was desperate to escape from her town apartment. In the meantime a couple of new friends, who we meet a short while ago, phoned us to ask “what are you doing on Sunday?” Therefore they came along as well. But what did we expect to find at Villa La Pescigola? Here are a few tourist publicity photos:
Un bello scorcio romantico del labirinto dei narcisi
A lovely romantic view of the daffodil maze.
Un altro scorcio del labirinto, ma guarda quel cielo azzurro!
Another view of the maze, just look at that blue sky!
La facciata della bella villa con gli onnipresenti narcisi
The facade of the beautiful villa with the omnipresent daffodils
Ed ecco quello che, dopo un’oretta di viaggio in macchina per le strette strade che si snodano fra le colline e montagne Lunigianesi, abbiamo in realtà trovato:
And here’s what, after an hour of driving along the narrow roads that wind through the hills and mountains of Lunigiana, we actually found:
Il romantico sentiero fra le aiuole di … fango!
The romantic footpath through the beds of … mud!
Il personale ha fatto di tutto per accoglierci ed assicurarci una giornata meravigliosa
The staff did everything to welcome us and ensure us a wonderful day
Alcuni ospiti si godono l’opportunità di prendere un po’ di sole sul prato inglese
Some of the guests enjoy the opportunity to get a bit of sun on the lawn
Unfortunately this spring seems to be the wettest in living memory, which is a long time in Lunigiana as average life expectancy is around 198 years. They’re pretty tough these contadini.
Was it muddy? yes, not as bad as the photos above, but let’s say siamo rimasti delusi (we were disappointed). Of course that wasn’t the managements fault, the only thing that I have against them is the fact that they sold coffee in plastic beakers! Yes, incredible but true, here in Italy, where coffee is sacrosanct, where you can even buy a great coffee in a proper cup at a motorway service station! Needless to say, we abstained and drove down to Fivizzano for an excellent bit of pizza and a real caffè in a real tazza (cup) in a real bar.
Did we have fun? Of course we did, after all we had the most important ingredient: good company. Plus the journey there and back was beautiful. Here’s the landscape that we drove through:
Is Villa La Pescigola worth visiting? yes, given the right climatic conditions. Check out the official website: http://www.villapescigola.com/festival-narcisi.html