Figline Valdarno, my train stop, appeared 30 minutes out of Florence. I disembarked, and aimlessly walked around until I saw a taxi sign and a phone number. Twenty minutes later, my driver, Antony turned up, who bore a striking resemblance to Mr Big, though it was hard to tell exactly through his mirrored aviators. Antony and I struck up small talk on the short drive, and when I say small talk I really mean it, he spoke Italian to me, I spoke English to him, and I developed quick respect for his potty Italian mouth and impressive road rage, we were clearly kindred spirits.
Villa Poggio di Gaville was home for the next five days, a beautiful villa decorated in both Italian and Arabic style, with the biggest, most kick-arse pool ever! I wasted no time unpacking my bikini and maximising my tanning time poolside. And when the sun finally rest its head sometime around 8pm, I put on a dress, and slipped out to the courtyard, where I proceeded to A. be attacked by more mosquito’s than I’ve ever endured in my life and B. devour a four course extravaganza of delicious Italian food, cooked by the villa’s owner, Jamal. Belly full, I head to bed, in a state of sleepy happiness, until HELLO WHAT DO WE HAVE HERE OUTSIDE MY BEDROOM DOOR?! A freaking scorpion! Oh this was not a good time people, and I needed to think fast, kill or be killed, and I was not about to let something that ugly be crowned the winner, oh no! His final breath was taken just before the leg of a stool came down on his crustaceous little head, adios amigo!
Day 2 started out not as I had planned. Because I’d planned to hire a car, so I could drive to Greve-in-Chianti and stroll around ancient little Tuscan villages. But no, this was not to be. The local car hire office was closed, and Jamal was really rather useless when it came to offering alternative suggestions, apart from heading all the way back to Florence to pick up a car at the hideous cost of 200 euros for 2 days. No. Thank. You. So after much internet searching, I gave up and realised I was destined to be ‘stuck’ at the villa for the following four days. Stuck in one place, with no chance of even a glimpse of civilisation, no shops, no access to chocolate? I was in trouble. Even the phone reception was super sketchy. This felt like a Hollywood version of rehab. Thankfully Jamal took pity and let me accompany him on his grocery shopping missions, excitement, I was being let out on good behaviour during this 5 day rehab-like stint!! Chocolate, diet coke and a few other snacks in my shopping basket, I began to breathe easier.
Days 3 and 4 played out very similar to day 1 and 2: awake, breakfast in the courtyard, stand in a good spot for phone reception, check facebook and hotmail, and proceed to the pool. And slowly, but surely, my wound up spring of a mind slowly uncoiled and I began to feel something I believe other people call ‘relaxed’? Mission accomplished, it takes an awful lot for me to manage a state of pure sloth. Opera on my ipod, I sunbathed away to Susan Boyle’s Wild Horses, which was slightly ironic considering there actually were wild horses in the paddock, saved by Jamal from a bad man!
Day 5 arrived, and I’d completely filled my sloth quota, so it was time to move on and reintegrate with the human race. Antony, my taxi driver turned up, and we occasionally talked at each other in ‘Itaglish’ as wikipedia informs me it’s called. Back on the train and Florence bound again, for a quick, but very necessary pit stop. Some of you might not understand or share my extreme excitement, but this was indeed a very exciting occasion, I had located the address of the pizzeria where the Jersey Shore crew had worked whilst filming their latest series. I was gonna go get me some Jersey Shore pizza, yeah buddy!
I had two hours to get from the station, locate O’ Vesuvio Pizzeria, down a pizza and be back on a train bound for Cortona. In no time flat, I was on the doorstep of the now famous pizza restaurant. Marco, the owner, who you will regularly spot on the show, was super friendly, and when I asked him how it went with Snookii and the gang he told me “I love them, but they make me crazy. For one month, they make me crazy!”. My margherita pizza arrived on my table, and it was divine, so it’s pretty certain this place will carry on long past when the fame has died down. Next up I met the Italian equivalent of Pauly D, Antony, works at the pizzeria. Such a funny guy, we had a mini photo shoot together starring my new O’Vesuvio tshirt, he sang me some Anastacia, who knew that woman still existed?, we swapped Facebook details and then I was off again with a skip in my step. Fun!
Time to get back ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’, Cortona-bound….