Another wonderful trip to Tuscany

Recently back from our third visit to Borghetto Calcinaia following much the same programme as in our previous visits and with three new people to join those who had been before.
Special interest holidays work well, needlepoint and stitching are no exception, all the participants have a passion in common and I find needle pointers love flowers, gardens and visiting interesting art museums and quaint villages. They also enjoy their food and sampling recipes and fresh ingredients’ from the area. A win win situation.

Possibly the most important feature of the trip is the stitching project on offer; ideally everyone working on the same design – even if some details are adapted – works so much better with cross fertilisation of ideas and swapping of threads.   On our previous two visits we have worked on panels by the Del Robbia family – a famous family of potters from the area who produced their panels in the 16 century.This year we chose the attractive logo from the Borghetto and worked it in a mix of silks and metallic.
This year's project.
So, following previous programmes we flew to Perugia (Ryanair) though collections can be organise from other places if people wish to add side trips before or after.From the airport we were whisked off to lunch at Trattoria da Vasco a charming rural restaurant where we sat under parasols and had a delicious lunch; our first taste of the Italian cuisine and sunshine.
On to the Borghetto and our first glimpse of our good friend, the owner, Gilly Love.  The rooms, the garden and the welcome were just as perfect as in previous years though very sadly her partner, Dennis whom we all loved, passed away just before Christmas.

Great to unpack and prepare for the stitching on the Monday morning.  I had invited everyone to the studio a few weeks ahead of our departure to fully discuss the project, whether anyone wanted some alterations to the original or different threads. My piece used a number of jewel like metallics and I was delighted that everyone loved the ‘medieval look’ and were going to go along with my ideas.
Sitting as we do at a large table under a pergola enjoying natural light – we can always slip off for some sunbathing or indeed a swim in the pool.

Pleasant days were spent stitching with intervals for delicious meals, local produce and Gilly’s great cooking. Each evening commenced with an Aperativo before an Antipasti, Main course and Dessert with generous wine.
The ancient apothecary's shop
On Wednesday allowing for plenty of stitching, we had our regular visit to the walled city of Sansepolcro with its many stone built towers and the birthplace of Piero Della Francesca with dinner afterwards at Il Dongione Ristorante in San Giustino. This has become a firm favourite with the group, marvellous museums, my favourite the Aboca Museum – Herbs and Health over the centuries housed in a beautiful seventeenth Palace; the Museo Civico with its collection of masterpieces of della Francesca, its Cathedral (1012) with two beautifully preserved frescos and – need I say a little window shopping if not the actual purchase of some small mementos!

I find it quite hard to prise my group away from their stitching however again we always love a visit to Anghiari – steep streets, breath-taking views and some interesting shops!   It is most famous for the Battle of Anghiari 1440 when the Florentines defeated the Milanese for control of this hilltop bastion and a painting (after the event) by Leonardo da Vinci since lost or possibly ‘overpainted’.   A few years ago I was fortunate to see the annual commemoration in June of this battle with processions of the town’s people dressed appropriately – should love to be able to include this event but June would be too hot, May for our visit is more comfortable.
That evening we went on the edge of town to the Zi’ Theresa restaurant specialising in Pizza; didn’t count the endless combinations of toppings but remember mine with artichoke hearts as being delicious!
Well, as always our week went all too fast but good progress had been made with the stitching project, all areas had been tackled; we had again sampled Gilly’s menus, had some sun and culture and returned this time on a mid-day flight with in some cases souvenirs of special cooking ingredients’ and an interesting pair of earrings. 
Already, before we left outline plans for May 219 was discussed and now I have to dream up an exciting project for the design – an initial idea I am working on is the traditional Florentine designs that were painted by the monks for illustrated manuscripts, beautiful garlands of flowers, foliage and often birds.
Meanwhile there is our trip to Southern Italy in September to look forward to, this year, our 11th visit. Please do keep in touch if you are interested in my needle point holidays, I should love to hear from you. Here is me, photographed in my favourite spot when the weather is kind, to share with you my love of flowers.




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