Past Milano, the northern Italian motorways whizz one along efficiently south-east, past Parma and Modena, until, close to Bologna, you turn sharp south. And before long there are iconic sights of hilltop towns with ochre roofs, vineyards and cypresses, to let you know unmistakably that you're in Tuscany.
Between Firenze and Siena to its south is the Chianti wine-growing region
where, outside the town of San Casciano, there's an overnight stop in Mangiacane (the great dog), a pinky-orange Medici villa surrounded by cypresses
set on a hilltop overlooking the Chianti vineyards
After a long day in the car there's a pool to relax in, and one of my favourite pleasures that only a warm climate can offer: an outdoor shower
In the peaceful courtyard garden I was surprised to find Zimbabwean soapstone sculptures - slightly out of context, but they look well here.
A sudden heavy rain shower cleared up in time for dinner in the garden: antipasti of local cheeses and charcuterie, a pasta of fresh truffles, and obviously a bottle of red Chianti. What could be more perfect?
Chianti, Tuscany, Italy, September 2016