Ciao amici,
oggi vi porto in Toscana per un po' di dolce far niente. Today I'm taking you to Tuscany for a little sweet doing nothing.
If you want to witness (and experience) a perfect example of the Italian Dolce Far Niente, you should spend a day at the Terme (thermal springs).
From morning to dinner time, with a little break for a light lunch, you'll see humans simply being. Floating, to be more precise.
Doing nothing but soaking the pleasure brought to their tired limbs by the hot waters and a few water jets. Letting the heat, the sulfureous components, and the soda lull, nourish and pamper them, expecting nothing in return. Chatting if they have company, gazing at the panorama if they're alone. Or both, alternating company with solitude.
hot springs
Each time I go, I wonder what I will do. Will time pass? Will I get bored? Will I relax? Invariably hours pass, and I don't want to leave. I don't want to dry away that state of mind. The absence of duties, the pointlessness of worrying, the fog that dulls my head.
Ten minutes more. Five minutes more. One minute more.
We try to go to the thermal baths at least once a year. If we have money, we spend the night at a hotel with private pools. If we don't, we pay for the daily access and drive back home.
This time we had a little extra money thanks to Luca's nonna. So we splurged.
Each time we go to Taranto, no matter what, no matter the objections of her grandson or my flushed cheeks, she hands us a bill... "for a pizza night". We feel guilty. We feel embarrassed. We feel miserable: adults accepting money from their grandma.
But we keep the money and always, always, promise ourselves we'll do something special with it. A couple of times, it's been great bottles of wine. Other times an extra luxury during one of our trips. Then we began saving them in an envelope for a Michelin-starred restaurant. It's still there, waiting for the perfect occasion.
But last year, we drove south more often than usual. We needed a few complex dental procedures, and our dentist - a good friend - is from Taranto. No matter the frequency, nonna Clara forced a bill into Luca's pocket each and every time. In the end, we had a little tesoretto, treasure. And we decided to invest it in our well-being, translation: a night at an expensive thermal hotel in Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany. Where, by the way, Lorenzo De Medici vacationed to cure his gotta and escaped from the pressure of his numerous duties.
One night, that's all we could afford, plus, it had to be a Sunday night, the only time of the week when they accept one-night packages.
Bagno Vignoni
To make the most of the weekend, we slept at a b&b in a nearby town, one of my favorites in Tuscany: Montalcino. Not because of the wine, but also because of the wine.
Because the lady that rented us the room has an antique shop.
Because the Val D'Orcia drive is splendid, turn after turn, cypress after cypress.
Because you can eat Crostino Toscano
Faraona (guinea fowl)
Zuppa Inglese
Zuppa Inglese
and Sfoglie di Riso for breakfast.
Because after lunch, you can sit on a bench and meditate, admiring the hills, enjoying digestion, and trying to sketch what you see.
Because you feel the urge to blend with that nature.
Because Montalcino is a small, never-crowded town that hugs you in its walls, letting you inside the intimacy of a slow-tempo life. Where everyone knows everyone. Where hurrying is a sin. Where absolutely nothing could ever cause stress.
So yes, everything we did last week was the nearest I know to the Dolce Far Niente nirvana.
Perfect to face Spring. But only if the saying is true: Aprile Dolce Dormire, April, sweet sleeping. Only if all that was expected from me for the next couple of weeks was: lying on the grass, practicing daydreaming, moving just to chase the sun's rays. It is not, but I'll settle.
That's it for today, pigroni miei. Have a sleepy, unfocused, lazy Sunday!



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