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Summer Hols 2007, part 1.

Yes, I know it is a mite unoriginal for an Englishman to holiday in Tuscany seeing as part of the area has even earned the nickname ‘Chiantishire’ as a result of the numbers of Britons that frequent the area. But you can’t really blame them, the area is beautiful, the wine good and, on the whole, very peaceful, even right slap bang in the middle of the Italian holiday season.

I have to admit that I did not even know where in Tuscany we were going to end up because we had left the booking in the hands of some friends of ours, who holidayed with us incidentally. They had already stayed in the area and spoke very highly of it and I trusted them. They did not let me down and we had a wonderful time.

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Stop translating in your head and start speaking Italian for real with the only audio course that prompt you to speak.

We took the train to Grosetto, where we picked up our trusty Punto hire car and set off along the modern Aurelia road for our first stop, the three bed bungalow which had been booked for us and it was a nice surprise. The bungalow was stone built, set in its own grounds with an olive grove on one side and a small vineyard on the other. And it had this most wonderful covered veranda, not to mention the brick barby. Inside the house was well furnished and equipped with things like an oven, dishwasher and a washing machine. The bedrooms were all quite large and the rest of the house was spacious too. More than enough room to absorb two one-child families and the two bathrooms made life very easy too. And it was all so quiet, despite the road which ran very close by. I think a car passed by every hour or so, which meant, after noisy Milan, I just did not notice the traffic. A promising start.

The next day our friends took us to one of the best beaches I’ve seen in Italy (this may not mean much, as I am not a beach person). This interesting and virtually deserted beach can be reached from Castiglone della Pescaia if you head out of Castiglione for Marina di Grosseto. Parking is a wee bit hazardous in that you have to leave your car on the side of a busy road, but it is worth the risk. The beach is sandy, the water clean and shallow, but best of all there is none of the usual beach paraphernalia so common to the ‘organised’ Italian beaches which I hate – especially because you have to pay to go onto the beach. Anyway, we had several very nice days on this beach and I discovered that a) our little one must have sea-otter genes in his blood because it is just about impossible to get him out of the water and b) I still sunburn painfully (twit that I am – I half heartedly spread factor twenty all over me, but managed to miss certain areas of my back – the resulting mix of burn and brown created a design on my back which, I was told, approximately resembled a union jack – English through and through!).

More about our holiday experiences to come and you can find some of the areas we stayed at/visited on my Platial map – just find Elba Island and look at the Italian mainland for the areas that I’ve labelled.

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