Thursday, 7 April 2016
Maisy among the daisies
We have had a few Tuscan holidays at Easter over the years, so we know that the weather in mid April can range from almost summery, to distinctly chilly. Luckily we've hit on perfect English summer's day weather. Toscana Village Camping is a pretty terraced site on the outskirts of the small town of Montopoli Val d'Arno. The owner was really welcoming and we were treated to an in-depth explanation of all the local attractions by two charming girls on work-placement from the local school. They spoke good enough English for them to persuade us that the the local macellaria was nationally recognised for the quality of its sausages. She handed us a leaflet which announced "Our salami: 'Poetry from Montopoli'" On the basis of solidarity alone a visit to the 'Ancient Butcher's Norcineria' seemed essential.
Tomorrow, perhaps. First we needed to settle in, unpack the bikes from the garage, service the van with water, and reorganise our stuff to get back into touring rather than storage mode. It took less than an hour. By this time the temperature had soared into the high twenties, we wound out the awning, unpacked the reclining chairs and stretched out. It is lovely here, verdant and bucolic.
However, it is the Arno valley, which, as well as being beautiful and home to a clutch of historic towns and cities, is also a highly productive manufacturing hub. The blackbird's song has to compete with traffic noise from the nearby FiPiLi dual carriageway. Tuscany is not some historic backwater, but one of the richest regions of the EU. If British politicians want to see what a 'Northern Powerhouse' looks like, the lower Arno valley might be a good place to look. The main Piaggo factory is a few miles down the road. One of the girls at reception arrived on gleaming bright red Vespa, she brightened considerably when we asked about the Vespa museum. After all, local salami of note is one thing, but unlike an egg, you can't go to work on a sausage.