Travel Tuesdays: Pitigliano, Tuscany

Travel Tuesdays : where I can look back fondly at wonderful places, people and journeys while we prepare for the exciting adventure ahead…

Sometimes I open my eyes and realise just quite how lucky I am. It’s like fireworks in my brain.

And I’m not just talking the miracle of Life.

Or the fact that I was born in an age where I can vote. And own property. And eat strawberries in winter. And use WiFi. (Sometimes all at once.)

Seriously though. FaceTime and Skype have materially changed my relationships for ever. I can hardly remember a time where I couldn’t see my brother’s face even though he’s 9 time zones away (and I sort of don’t want to).

But anyway…

I’m talking about normal lucky.

Claw Machine lucky or school raffle lucky. Just barely caught the bus lucky.

And I am stupidly, stupendously lucky.

I mean, how many people do you know who win plane tickets to Kyrgyzstan? And look how that turned out.

I was thinking about luck as I looked up at the travel wall this morning, wondering which story to tell this week.

All I could see was the amazing serendipity, kindness and generosity behind each adventure. The unseen hands and unexpected encounters that make them what they are.

So today I give you one brilliant example.


One summer I was having a hellish time at work. During a chaotic transition, our company was without a director for the better part of a year, and along with a couple of colleagues I was bearing a huge amount of the extra responsibility without any extra time, money, or staff. I was already doing crazy hours and fighting tooth and nail for funding, and some days it just all seemed stacked against me.

Plus at home we’d had a huge year of expenses and complications so I was utterly skint and totally burnt out.

One day over lunch a colleague casually asked where were going on holiday that summer. I said I’d wanted to take Bean away after the year we’d had but didn’t have the money; it’d just have to wait. I asked if she going anywhere nice an the conversation turned to other travels and excursions.

I didn’t think anything of it until a week later my colleague shows up at my desk. She says she knows how stressed I’ve been and how hard I’ve been working and was sorry to hear I couldn’t afford the trip I’d been planning — would I like to borrow her family’s apartment in Italy sometime instead? They hardly ever use it and the place needs airing out this time of year. We could stay as long as we liked, anytime.

I think my jaw broke the sound barrier as it hit the floor.

What generosity! What kindness!

I think of it today and I still revel at how amazingly lucky I happened to be right there, right then, with someone who could magically make my wildest dream come true.

I mean, a free trip to Italy? A flat in Tuscany all to ourselves?


I could hardly breathe I was so excited.


That summer, for the price of a pair of cinema tickets (you know, back when RyanAir flights were £5+taxes?) we flew to Rome and drove into the rolling hills of Tuscany for a blissful two week holiday I’ll never forget [these unedited phone photos hardly do it justice].

Sure, we ate nothing but bread and cheese from the supermarket.

And we mostly went to free parks and wandered cobbled lanes in the starlight instead of forking out for vineyard tours and fancy restaurants.

But it was so beautiful I didn’t care.

liam on the patio in pitigliano

We had a Juliet balcony overlooking a waterfall. And a roof terrace covered with grape vines.

We were in the glorious, magical, medieval city of Pitigliano on one of the most romantic excursions of my life.


I still think of that holiday as the epitome of vacations. Relaxed, simple, joyous. It was our very own Enchanted April.

But even now as I try to tell the story of this serendipitous miracle I feel so terribly lucky it’s practically a form guilt. Shame even.

I feel cowed, wondering if I blunder like people who name drop celebrities badly, or indulge in vindictive backhanded gloating.

It is easy to feel as if I don’t deserve such random, extravagant kindness. As if it’s unfair and selfish.

Secretly, I’m afraid you’ll resent my good fortune.


But deep down I think that does a disservice to the magic of such gifts. In my universe at least, gifts are not given to be regretted.

In all likelihood, my (now former) colleague doesn’t even remember that off-handed offer.

She couldn’t possibly know how much it matters to us still. Having that retreat just us two changed our relationship forever (and that wasn’t all down to glamorous views and cheap local wine).

When I think of this kindness, I don’t want it to feel distant. As if it’s something only someone richer or more generous could do. As if it is something outside of my sphere and can’t ever happen again.

sunflowers tuscany

Instead I like to think of it as a Pay It Forward. A reason for me to spread my own kind-magic in the world.

I doubt I’ll ever have a villa to offer anyone, but who knows? I like to hope there is something within my reach which could help, aid or relieve someone else — that could be meaningful and good.

That someday I’ll do something that can make someone else’s year the way she made ours.

I don’t know what it is yet, but the very idea of it lights a fire in my heart.

A fire I want to stoke and nourish.

And that is worth a million Italian sunsets. And a billion medieval ruins.

Que Sera Sara Pitigliano Tuscany vintage photo

One Response to “Travel Tuesdays: Pitigliano, Tuscany”
  1. nicole224 says:

    Looks like you had a wonderful time! I’m planning a trip to Italy for next spring so I’m in the midst of looking at villas for rent in Tuscany. I’ve been reading how others’ experiences while they were there to see what I want to do and see. I have to admit that I can’t wait for the food. Thanks for sharing!


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