Over the New Year’s I had the pleasure of staying at a wonderful farmhouse in the shadow of Montecucco in Tuscany. It was a gorgeous old building with fabulous vistas of the surrounding countryside.
The rolling Tuscan hills with the villages of Castelnuovo, Amiata and Montenero, and a skyline dominated by the rebuilt ruins of Castello di Velona, now an exclusive spa resort.
The hillsides are full of typical Tuscan patterns, olive groves, cyprus lined avenues that lead up to lovely old villas and being wine country there are plenty of vineyards.
This, after all, is the land of Montalcino and Chianti. During the winter months the countryside is also patchwork of freshly ploughed, sienna fields, just waiting on the arrival of spring and the sowing of the crops.
The landscape around Montecucco is straight out of a Lorenzetti or Gozzoli fresco. Along the roadside it is full of tall, oddly shaped trees, large formidable rock formations and neatly furrowed slopes. All you needed to complete the picture was a parade of sixteenth century, Medici dukes on horseback.
The weather, for the middle of winter, was also spectacular, clear sunny days, with breath taking sunsets. A collage of yellows, pinks, oranges and purples, or at least to me they were anyway. The sun as it set silhouetted perfectly the hillside scramble of buildings that make up Montenero. Vague outlines of the olive groves and little lights of the village buildings as darkness enveloped the landscape.