this was only my second time in italy, don't know how i've managed that. i was paying kitty (flat mate extraordinaire from college) a little visit and while there giving a poetry workshop. she now lives and works on the farm tenuta di spannocchia, which is a place that 'encourage[s] global dialogue about sustaining cultural landscapes for future generations through the example of the tenuta di spannocchia.' kitty is their education director and a fabulous job she does too. i not only had my own personal tour guide for the farm but i did a salumi tasting (all products made in situ) and an olive oil tasting.
most of my time was spent kicking back enjoying the food (everyone on the farm eats dinner together at the main villa), enjoying the wine (they produce their own), the sunshine and the lovely lovely quietness. I managed to read two books between food and napping: the infinities by john banville (thank you jamison) and on chesil beach by ian mcewan (thank you kitty).
in terms of books about tuscany though everything that you've seen, read or heard appears to be true. full of its own cliche's and importance it's still hard not to be charmed by it all. any writing i attempted though was riddled with terrible predictability. even on my return home its hard to write about it with any sense. speaking of writing, while i was there i gave a creative writing workshop to some very enthusiastic farm interns; 99% american and 1% australian. they were an amiable bunch considering only two or three of them had ever done a workshop before.
we started out by having a general discussion about poetry. turns out its not just irish schools that ruin it after all. after which we looked at some food related poems primarily the fish by billy collins and clearances by seamus heaney. it took them a while to warm up but once they got going they couldn't be stopped, finding meaning and similarities all over the place. it was quite enjoyable to sit back and watch it all unfold. after all of that excitement we went about writing a little something. 10 lines was the goal or the limit (depends on your frame of mind). turns out i couldn't even churn out more than 8 lines about a pepper (it's hard to write on demand!). they did well, there were some beauties about cutting bread and preening plants. i live in hope that i have converted at least one of the non-believers to the merits of poetry.
work done it was back to the food, wine and laughing. with many the new pound filling my jeans i headed homeward. but lets face it a holiday is not a holiday without some bad airport food. menu tuscan from mr panino was without a doubt the best finish to a holiday anyone could wish for.