Sunday, 17 April 2016

San Baronto - Many Happy Returns!

Wednesday 13th April, 2016.

We have visited San Baronto twice before. In the summer of 2003 we stayed a few days in a Eurocamp tent at the Barco Reale campi site before heading off for a holiday in Elba. Four years later we rented a villa in the village itself. La Cassete di Michele had a long terrace running the length of the first floor overlooking the wide valley west of Florence. I remember watching a thunderstorm gather in the Alps Apuane to the northwest, then sweep towards us, a veil of rain hiding Montecatini; then the deluge exploded on our roof,cascading in a sheet of grey two feet in front of us as we sat on the terrace to watch the pyrotechnics. We had a great week there; I remember joining the village on long trestle tables to celebrate the Fete l'Unita. On our last night Michele threw a spaghetti party for his guests by the pool. His older relatives had brewed up some particularly lethal 'vino santo' and kept refilling my glass. I am a little hazy how the evening ended, but I remember the hangover was wicked.

So as we drove up the hill from the Coop at Lampereggio and spotted the villa on the hill above San Baronto it was like seeing an old friend. As we checked in at Camping Barcoreale the receptionist enquired, Have you been here before?" We mentioned our stay at Cassete di Michele. She smiled. "Michele is one of the owners of the campsite," she explained. "In fact his father in in the back office." An elderly, but sprightly man appeared. I recognised him as one of the vino santo conspirators responsible for my demise a decade ago.

Camping Barcoreale - big pitches..
with hedges where you can snooze undisturbed
heated pool...

lovely woodland setting.

One of the reasons we have come here is to meet up with Sarah and her boyfriend who are flying into Bologna tomorrow. It means she can celebrate an early birthday with us, and still fly back next Sunday on the early flight to meet her friends in Hackney for more age appropriate shindig to celebrate reaching the venerable age of 28. 

Having shopped, parked and got all the clobber out by early afternoon, we unpacked the bikes and pedalled most of the way to Vinci, about 10 kilometres south of San Baronto. The village lies of the slopes of the Monte Albano, a ridge of wooded hills running south from Pistoia to the Arno valley near Empoli. Although the surrounding valleys are highly populated and industrialised, the hills themselves are quite rural, and in the clear sunny spring weather a delightful place, full of wild flowers and birdsong.

Spring in the Monte Albano - a view of San Baronto
The read to Vinci
 The forecast is looking good for Sarah and Rob's visit. We pitched the guest tent, dug out the spare quilt cover and put the Prosecco in the fridge pending their arrival tomorrow.

The guest suite
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