Vol. 29 - An Italian Engagement
And The Full Road Trip Itinerary
Happy Sunday, everybody! To my UK readers, I hope you have all been faring well in this unusual heatwave. To the rest of my readers, I hope you have refrained from taking the piss out of the UK on Twitter for our reaction to said heatwave. It has been just over a week since we returned from our two-week road trip, and the questions and congratulations have been coming in equal measure. As promised, I will be covering the Italian portion of our trip (if you missed the South of France segment, you can read that in last week’s newsletter) as well as the itinerary in full for those of you looking to take a similar trip. If you would like some visual aid, you can also watch my Youtube vlogs from the trips here and my TikTok here. We also received our next batch of Rhubarb Society keyrings, which are available to buy here, so hopefully, if you missed out on our last drop, you’ll have a chance to get one now! Anyway, let’s begin…
From Eze to Cinqueterre
and an Italian proposal
So, I last left you in Eze at the glorious La Chevre D’or, where we enjoyed one last breakfast on the terrace before we set off once again. The drive to Villa La Madonna was only three and a half hours long, and the journey was a beautiful mix of coastal and mountain views. Crossing country borders by car is entirely anti-climatic and oddly unpoliced, so crossing from France into Italy was a piece of cake. Villa La Madonna is a rustic, boutique hotel in the Italian countryside that reminded me of Soho Farmhouse before it was overcrowded and annoying. It sits on a vineyard, which means the views from every angle are gorgeously green as far as the eye can see. It’s part of the Small Luxury Hotels group, so that gives you an idea of the standard. We checked into our room and then immediately sat outside for a light lunch in the sunshine. The food at this hotel was so good that for the three nights we stayed there, we didn’t bother to eat anywhere else. Everybody who worked there was warm and attentive, making the experience 10x better. They even humoured our spotty Italian as we attempted to put our eight weeks of Italian classes to use. One of the women who often did the morning service would bring a small plate of turkey out to feed to Rhubarb at breakfast. Anyway, the first day and a half was spent lazily eating, drinking and reading outside, either by the restaurant or by the pool. I made the most of their wellness services by booking myself in for a lymphatic massage which I would highly recommend. For such a small boutique hotel, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of treatments and activities they had on offer. La Merenda was my favourite time of day; where around 5 pm, the hotel would make a series of light bites (largely bread, meats, and pizzettes) for us to graze on as we drank cocktails and waited for Dinner service. One evening we decided to stay in their cosy sitting area and play card games whilst listening to music as Rhubarb sat impatiently, waiting for someone to bring her a drink or a stray piece of parma ham.
On our second morning, we enjoyed another glorious al fresco breakfast, complete with makeshift bellini’s (a haphazard combo of their homemade breakfast juice and one of the bottles of breakfast fizz they had available) and pancakes with fresh berries. Rhubarb even had some boiled eggs alongside her hand-fed turkey. We had a picnic arranged for lunch, so we decided to spend the morning by the pool, where I read American Babe for the umpteenth time. When I go on holiday, I like to read light and fluffy books, and the White Girl Problems trilogy is perfect for that. Anyway, as I’ve already mentioned, Villa La Madonna is surrounded by vineyards, and, as we came to learn, roses are planted at the end of each row to test the quality of the soil and its nutrients. While we were topping up our tans, Rhubarb got something stuck in her paw (it looked like a very small rose thorn), which we swiftly removed and sterilised. Luckily, it wasn’t too deep, and she wasn’t bleeding, but of course, she still felt very sorry for herself, limping and sighing and kicking the air at every opportunity. Henry’s neurosis seemingly took over as he told me he had been imagining a range of worst-case scenarios regarding Rhubarb’s paw and how difficult it would be to find a good Italian vet out in the sticks. Still, the reason for his overthinking became more apparent in the hours that followed.
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