Hello and welcome to the Villa San Francesco, Bagni di Lucca. We arrived yesterday after a long but reasonably straight-forward journey from downtown Byfield and have been relaxing in the splendour and pleasantness!
As Donna once said (when we flew off to Spain for a week): it must be nice living so close to Europe that one can, indeed, nip off for a week or so very easily and that is certainly true. However, as I said then, it would be even better if we lived as conveniently close to an airport as she and Ben do to LAX. As it happens, our flight was from Gatwick (two and a half hours from Byfield) to Bologna (about two and a half hours drive from Bagni di Lucca). So, five hours of driving sandwiched around a two hour flight.
Then consider that our flight out was at 9.00 am, allow for arriving at the airport two hours before the flight, allow for dropping the car at the long-term car park and the half-hour transfer to the airport and you easily come to the conclusion that our household had to be roused at 3.00 am and the journey from door to door took just over twelve hours. By the time we got here there was little else to do other than drop into the pool. Fortunately, the small supermarket in the village provided sufficient sustenance for a good evening meal and several bottles of local wine.
So, here we are and it is lovely. This week we have the outstanding company of Adam (who flew in from China on Wednesday evening), Ben (who flew in from LA on Friday morning) Penny’s sister Judi (who has been with us for a few weeks in Byfield) and Nick, Lucy and Bump. Next week Ben, Nick, Lucy and Bump will depart and we will be joined by our friends Sue and Dave Walton and Sue and Stuart Kelly-Brown. You may or may not remember but this gathering is in “celebration” of my 60th birthday. When we starting discussing how we might acknowledge the event we very quickly decided that gathering the boys in mid-winter in Byfield was perhaps not the best idea. I thought a couple of weeks in the south of France would be nice and Pen came up with the excellent idea of going somewhere we’ve not been before. Hence, we find ourselves in Tuscany ready to enjoy the hot sunshine and the many wonderful sights we’re anxious to see.
Bagni di Lucca is a smallish village with quite an historical background. Apparently, when Lucca was an independent state in its own right, it was where the big-wigs and politicos journeyed to spend the summer months in the cooler hill-top villas. The Villa San Francesco dates from the early 1800s and is perched on a hill overlooking the village with views of the mountains in the distance. The owner, an absolutely delightful elderly gentleman, met us with his daughter with whom we had arranged all the details. He explained that this little enclave of villas has had a number of “prestigious” residents in the past, including Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Letizia Bonaparte, Napoleon’s mother. Now he can add our names to the list.
The villa itself is fabulous and considerably more luxurious than we should probably ever be allowed to visit, let alone inhabit for a couple of weeks. (Lots of antiques and gorgeous furniture – it’s a good job we’ve brought Bump at this stage in her life rather than in a few years time when she would be able to wreak havoc). The bedrooms are generous in the extreme, two of which have spacious adjacent sitting rooms and all of which have lovely ensuite bathrooms, two of which are large enough to serve as the changing room for the English football team. The pool is magnificent and there is a sauna and Jacuzzi. It truly is fabulous and we’ll look to get some more and better photos for the next edition.
There’s lots on our list of things to do but if anyone has any suggestions please feel free to send them our way!
Love to you all,