Ian writes: On Saturday morning we woke up to a good foot of snow. Quite unusual for Arezzo and hence the whole region descended into chaos. Whilst most people travel to Tuscany in the warmer months the winter can be truly beautiful: the tops of the hills are covered with snow from December to February and there is a decent skiing resort in the mountains above Pistoia at Abetone. Our nearest villa to Abetone is Ripiano. Many thanks to fellow tennis player Patrizia for the photographs.
Christmas in Sardinia is a great time of year, as many of the small villages inland celebrate with artisans opening up their houses to show off their home-made goods. These can vary from delicious pastries and fresh pastas to spectacular furniture made out of beautiful, perfumed juniper wood. The trick, I have learned over the years, is to go to the ‘Cortes Apertes’ with no time limits as in every house that you enter, you get given a glass of local wine, a piece of salami, or perhaps a special festive sweet made out of nuts and honey. It is considered rude not to accept so if you choose a village with a long main street, you can guarantee to come home with a car full of presents, stomach full of food, a bit of a headache, and a list of new friends as long as your arm.
On the coast and in the larger towns, lights and Christmas trees abound; often there are parties for the younger residents in the main squares with roast chestnuts, hot chocolate and Panettone . I have to admit to always being impressed by the organisation of festive parties here in Italy. I had a great time on Saturday night at Porto Cervo’s annual Christmas bash; a huge gathering of guests ranging from 6 months to 80+ years with a splendid buffet and lots of wine to sample. A special play-room for the little ones was set up with staff to oversee them, the majority of the teenagers giggled and hoped not to be asked to dance whilst the adults let their hair down and waltzed, tangoed and twisted the night away. I am proud to admit to having danced with a 17 year old, a 3 year old and a 78 year old.
Sadly after a fantastic November, the weather has turned and we are experiencing rather wet, chilly, grey days that are forecast to stretch to the end of December. It seems hard to believe that the sea will instantly turn back to that magnificent bluey green colour as soon as the sun peeps out again. For those of you looking forward to your holidays in the spring, I can strongly recommend Su Gologone in the heart of Nuoro and Hotel Cala Luna on the spectacular coastline at Cala Gonone; both places that are on my list of visiting next week to check out the artisans handicrafts, to say nothing of the wine and cakes.