How To Prolong Your Summer

Barbara Klein travel, Tuscany 54 Comments


How Do You Prolong Your Summer?

Easy: Take A Holiday In Southern Tuscany


Maremma Mia

Are you ready for the upcoming season of long nights and short days? Layers and layers of warm cloths, warming caps or hats, boots and gloves, running noses, coughing. Have you tanked enough sun to last you for the next months of low temperatures, grey skies, rain and snow?

Yes ‚Äď lucky you! Or do you live in an all year sunny climate zone? If not: come and join me in reliving this year‚Äôs summer encore in Italy, in the beautiful countryside of Southern Tuscany.

It was a family holiday, me and my three old ladies: my mother, my aunt and Chica.

It is a 750 km drive from Basel to Massa Marittima, a comfortable ride in my reliable car, it took us about 10 hours as we made several stops.

first stop first day

First stop on the highway: St. Gotthard, Switzerland


Tuscany was lovely and I really took a holiday from the online world, pulling the plug. Well, checking my emails once in a while for anything urgent but not visiting any social media platforms or reading blog posts or commenting, an interesting experience: I have found I did not miss anything except my real life friends and new online friends.


Il Cicalino

Our temporary home

We rented part of an old building at the Tenuta Il Cicalino, a beautiful complex of old farm buildings, lovingly renovated and situated below Massa Marittima.

first sunset

Our first sunset on the Poggio al Diavolo

We enjoyed beautiful summer weather except for a day or two, once a heavy thunderstorm and tons of rain (much needed as it has not rained for a long long time) and sometimes heavy winds but lots of sun and tanking up for winter.

Getting up each day very early and watching the sun rise above the town of Massa Marittima, breathing the fresh and crisp air scented with the fragrance of autumn blossoms and the promises of a good olive harvest. Leisurely drives to the sea side, playing with Chica and swimming in the amazingly warm water, celebrating the aperitivo hour and either cooking at home or eating out, going back to our favourite bar of Il Leccio for lunch. Going to bed very early each night.

peach or abricot

Peach or apricot?

Time gained another dimension, I read a lot and started some thinking process and I also nearly finished knitting my shawl. When I took pictures it was for my own pleasure not in view of some food post, letting my own food go cold trying to find the perfect angle or aperture, no wine photography and online research for its history.

It was a slow down experience that was sometimes quite hard for me and I was wearing different hats at the same time: driver, porter, interpreter, cook, nurse and listener to 1001 tales which I have heard 1001 times before.

il mare

The dogs’ and other creatures’paradise at Punta Ala

pata negra

Pata negra

Lazy days, interrupted by the occasional trip to the local market buying fresh produce and the latest fashion designs. And a memorable dinner at a new agriturismo on Monte Bamboli: Agriristoro San Andrea.

I can heartily recommend it (tip: come with a very very empty stomach): fantastic local food, prepared by the women of three generations: bruschette, antipasti with cheese, ham and salame, accompanied with sweet-sour relishes, frittini, handmade maccaroni with a cinghiale (boar) sugo, reavioli al burro e salvia, salad, coniglio e pollo with fried potatoes, zuppa inglese, coffee and grappa.

Our trip back, another 10 hour trip up north, from summer weather to the fog of St. Gotthard pass (there is a lovely old and narrow road called Tremola, which could roughly translate as the tremble, probably due to the cobble stones used for building it and the teeth rattling shaking) – there is a 16 km long tunnel but I forewent the pleasure of the hour long wait in a traffic jam on the highway and chose driving over the pass – and heavy rains to autumnal temperature back to Basel.

You want to see more of Tuscany? Please, here they are on Flickr.

Your turn now:

How do you recharge your batteries for the cold and wet season?

Comments 54

  1. Beautiful Barbara! The pictures and narrative were just so evocative of those amazing last days of summer that you get in September. Welcome back, I missed your face around the place :)I haven’t recharged my batteries at all this year! I usually like to recharge them during the winter (not before) by going somewhere cosy in the English countryside or to the sea. I love those places out of season when there are no visitors and you can stroll around at your leisure knowing that you have a roaring fire to go back to in a cottage or hotel.
    I’m off to Flickr now ūüôā¬†

    1.  @kittiewalker Hi, Kittie! Lovely to speak to you! I have very fond memories of autumn holidays in Cornwall: strong winds mixed with rain, walk along the coast and returning to the hotel to have high tea in front of a blazing fire Рsheer bliss, I get what you mean!
      Skype one of those days? I would love to catch up with you, it has been one of those weeks (and this after such a beautiful holiday!).

        1. ¬†@Hajra ¬†Yes, you are right. This reminds me of the latest Woody Allen movie I saw last night: To Rome With Love. There was this Italian guy who could only sing in the shower and Woody wanted him to become a great opera star so he installed a running shower on stage, apart from it being very funny the only thought which crossed my mind was: good grief, what will happen to this poor guy’s skin? Btw the movie was not that good.

  2. Ah, my friend, I was transported to a place of peace as I read this, and viewed your lovely photos. If we could bottle the spirit that such tales and experiences bring, we’d be millionaires! Cheers! Kaarina

  3. Hey Barbara, thanks for the trip through this beautiful place. I am remembering my time in Tuscany (22 years ago). It was a very different time and place but I bet Florence and Piza have not changed much themselves. My memories are not strong so thank you for brining back that feeling.
    As I write this I am sitting in the kitchen of our vacation home in Montferrat, France. A small villiage just northwest of Nice. We are also recharging with some downtime, sun and relaxation.
    I love your story. I can just fee how fabulous it must have felt. So glad you enjoyed it. Bravo!

    1.  @rdopping Bonjour, Ralph qui séjourne au sud de la France. I hope you have lovely summer weather and beautiful memories to bring back (and share with us!). I can just picture you sitting in that kitchen, the special light only to be found in this region, the smells and perfumes, the lovely sea food to be savoured, the small villages to visit and sit in a roadside café and watch people sauntering by. Bliss!

        1. ¬†@rdopping¬† Haha, so off the mark, next time I will be more careful: extra dry, dry, sweetish, sweet, obnoxiously sweet (which will tell you how I like my wines)? And I forgot the bubbly …
          Yes, it is the region for rosé, funny, I liked it there and we bought it from a local vineyard in a bidon, those plastic containers I would normally arrogantly ignore.
          But I never drink it here or in Italy, friends of mine  who make their own wine in Massa Marittima produce a rosé and we tasted the 2011 harvest, a heavy 15 %,  too deep in colour and much too strong for my liking.

        2.  @Late_Bloomers The reds are stunning here too! Heavy, dry and full of headache producing tannins but fantastic nonetheless. In Canada we get some great wines but the better ones are very expensive so we are enjoying as many varietals as we can here but the Rose wins hands down. Yes, very strong too. Usually 13.5% We have been partial to the Bandol but a local (very local) winery, Domaine De Lagarde has produced some fabulous rose and red. I am rambling. Ha. Cheers to you!

        3. @rdopping Haha, not rambling, I enjoy it very much! I read over at your page that you will be travelling home tomorrow, let me wish you and your wife a safe trip nhome and may those holiday memories stay with you forever and brighten the daily routine!

  4. Lovely photos as always, Barbara! ¬†Thanks for sharing and making our extended summer more charming. ¬†I must admit though, that I love LOVE fall and it’s my favorite season. ¬†I love the cool weather, the layering and the shorter days. ¬†I guess it’s cos I prefer staying indoors and am not very social? ¬†Oh well….. ¬†;-))

    1. ¬†@jpage.manuel¬†Hi, Joy, and thanks so much. My photography is still YOU-SEE-WHAT-I-TOOK although I have installed Lightroom and mean to work with it ….
      You and not social? Come on, I do not believe it! And I love autumn too, the beautiful colours and this is where I am heading now: outside for a walk with a friend and Chica, take some pictures and have a glass of wine in a countryside restaurant. Nice life, eh?

  5. Apricot or nectarine? I don’t believe they are peaches…….
    What a great sounding trip; I would love to do something like that. Maybe we could go to a winery and they would let us stomp some grapes.
    I do think I have one winter jacket; it’s been awhile since I’ve worn it… in years, not months……..:).¬†
    Thanks for sharing and welcome back; we missed you. 

    1. ¬†@bdorman264¬†neither – nor, they had a velvety skin like a peach or apricot but they were quite small in size and tasted bitter when I tried (foolish foodie that I am I always have to stick everything in my mouth – and don’t you dare to get any ideas now, dem Reinen ist alles rein!). Even the wild boars refused to eat them and had a great time with the apple tree growing next to it, you just have seen Chica, my dog, when she smelled their scent (even after hours), never have you seen a more obedient dog walking closely at heel (my flipflops do not have heels though).
      Yes, this would be fun, we sniff out the wine cellars, forego the grape stomping and get right down to important matters: tasting!
      I came back to real nasty fall weather but the last two days have been beautiful with warm and sunny day, everything bursting out in vivid shades of yellow, orange and red. But I want to wear a polka dot bikini!
      Thanks, Bill, for visiting and the missing, there is some red wine (a Morellino di Scansano) waiting for you …¬†

  6. Wow! What a beautiful trip, Barbara! I think that’s why trips and travels are so important. They facilitate change and relaxation. I loved your way with words in how you described the sights and especially the smells and tastes. Your line on time gaining another dimension had me thinking of how I recharge before you even asked the question and… I haven’t recharged in a long while. Although I guess my trips back home to Canada for a month every December/January makes a difference. Only a few months away from the next one! =)

    1. @Samantha Bangayan And a lovely morning to you, Sam! This part of Tuscany is very special for me and travelling with my three old ladies left no alternative but to slow down (and start thinking about my time habits), I will be eternally grateful to them. 
      What an exciting year you have experienced so far, no wonder you found no time to recharge, but maybe this was not needed? Going back and be with family, hopefully being pampered with love and food – yes this will recharge you!

      1. @Late_Bloomers¬†Hehe! That’s true that I might not have needed time to recharge. When things get busy, I think we tend to become ultra productive. At the same time, I think I’m the kind of person who needs rest and relaxation every once in a while. =)

        1. @Samantha Bangayan¬†Are you speaking about work-life balance? Our dear friend¬†@KDillabough¬†has much to say about this and she is always so right (well, practically always). I have found when I am being creative my batteries are on auto-load and even give me an extra boost, much fodder here … my mother comes to mind who says “I hear you but I do not listen”.

        2. @Late_Bloomers¬†¬†@Samantha Bangayan Ah, but you know what I say about that word ‘balance’…there is no balance in life. We’re a rockin’ roller coaster ride of ups and downs, so Embrace Imbalance and enjoy the ride! With well-timed breaks to recharge:)

        1. @Samantha Bangayan As Yoda would say: do or do not, there is no try ūüėČ ūüėČ No pressure, haha! But if you’re “in the neighbourhood” (Ontario) during your visit, let’s be sure to connect somehow.

        2. @KDillabough¬†¬†@Samantha Bangayan¬†Is it ok now to bring you some breakfast goodies? I could try to make some Swiss pancakes with maple syrup, fried eggs with crisp bacon, toast, fresh fruit and lots of coffee to last us for hours …

    1. @CarlyAlyssaThorne Good morning to you, Carly! Yes, it truly was a relaxing trip and the memories will keep me warm over the cold and grey winter months!
      Have a wonderful and happy week!

  7. So, I was over blogjacking on Adam’s site and I saw your comment. I love finding new blogs and thought I’d take a brief respite from the fun to see what you’d written.
    It was delightful. I’m filled with wanderlust, now. In my late 20’s I spent a summer in France, but made¬†excursions to many of the nearby countries (The trains over there are great). I said it at the time and I believe it still, they’ve figured out how to live. I love the 3 hour meal, the talking, the general joie de vie.
    Okay, I better get back to Adam’s site, before I miss something.

    1. @ExtremelyAvg¬†At the same time I sneaked in your backdoor and read your latest post “Do You Like To Laugh?” and I loved it! ¬†This is an amazing coincidence, Brian!
      Ah, yes, la joie de vie, something so well known in southern European countries, sadly the more you go north this joie de vie dissolves into thin air, I am lucky I live in Switzerland, in the middle of everything!
      See you over at Adam’s and thanks so much for your short visit! Next time we will celebrate some joie de vie, non?

        1. @ExtremelyAvg I did and she is all and more that you promise! She has such an easy way with words and what an awesome sense of humour, I understand why you two connected!
          And I also loved your tweet about food, glad you recognize the importance of it.

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