While we loved our aerie in the Embassy district of Rome, where we enjoyed views from three separate porches and learned how to use an iconic Italian stovetop espresso percolator, our hosts had kindly offered for us to spend time at their house in Tuscany, chez their parents, Lola et Jean. So, after a week of marble, crucifixes and heat (it was a dry heat), we rented a car and motored up the AI, exiting in Arezzo and continuing north a bit more to Poppi. We had instructions, upon arriving in town, to meet our hostess under the castle. As drove north, we could see it, unmistakably, off to the left, at the top of a hill.
Upon winding up the hill, we could see on the upper side of the road a high and accordingly impenetrable wall, while lower down, some beautiful red clay tennis courts rested in the shade. We passed through a tunnel of plane trees and entered the little walled hill town, eventually climbing to the top where we met Lola, in her old and charming Fiat. As we were feeling adventurous, we drove down the hill with her, established ourselves at our new lodgings, and then went off to a local cocktail party with our host and hostess, soon pained that we didn’t speak more/any Italian and grateful for our hostess’ unlikely connection to Gloucester, Massachusetts.
One of the collateral gifts of a vacation is the after-movie – those images that become imprinted on one’s mind and forever allied with the good feelings that resulted from them. I can tell already that the little town of Poppi will figure predominantly in mine; those lovely winding streets, beautiful arches, geraniums, terra cotta roof tiles and the unmistakable smell of old.
At the top was a vine covered outdoor cafe that looked out over the hills, the castle and a fine bust of Dante Alighieri, who had stopped in Poppi for one reason for another. This was one of our views.
We stayed there an absurdly long time, as had become our habit, perhaps as a way to combat heat and tourist tiredness. It was a lovely stop. We chatted and took photographs of what was in front of us.
After sitting for an hour or so, perhaps two actually, we decided it was lunch time, and walked 10 car lengths to a small auberge that had wonderful food and a beautiful setting. The only thing that got in our way was a waitress who appeared to be working way too hard for any Italian in the month of August.
Some funny things we saw in our little town: