Today's destination was the tiny village of Limano in northern Tuscany. We got away okay in the morning, but just past Florence, I was trying to do some maths with Zoe and didn't notice that Sally's touchscreen had bumped against me and we missed a vital turn-off. It was about 15 kilometres until the next exit, but just as we were nearing it, we bumped up against a traffic jam. We sat for ages, watching with bemusement as the crazy Italian drivers pulled out onto the hard shoulder, drove a bit further on then tried, unsuccessfully, to push back into the queue, thus making it impossible for the emergency vehicles to reach the incident ahead that was causing the jam.
We eventually started moving again, rolling past a pretty nasty accident – a three-lorry pile-up - one of them with a rather mangled cab. It had obviously happened not too long before we got there, as we were only a few hundred metres from it. Once we had rolled past, we pulled off the motorway, paid the toll, went around a roundabout and got back onto the motorway, heading back the way we had come, past kilometres and kilometres of stopped lorries – the tailback from the accident (lorries have to drive in the outside lane, so they were forced to endure the wait while things returned to normal).
By around lunchtime, we were approaching the town of Pistoia, so we decided to pop in for lunch. However, the lack of parking, horrendous traffic and general feel of the place combined to convince us to loop back out of town and stop at the local McDonald's (where parking was also in very short supply). As we left, we spotted a big supermarket, so stopped there for some supplies. Driving into and out of the town, we were struck by the number of plant nurseries that are spread out on the land around – row after row of trees and shrubs, many of them planted directly into the ground rather than in pots.
As we left Pistoia, which is on a broad, flat plain, the road began to rise and the scenery got more interesting. Eventually, we found ourselves driving alongside a small river with steep hills rising up on either side of us. The sign to Limano pointed us up one of these hills, and we drove back and forth across the hillside, successive switchbacks taking us higher and higher until we reached the village.
After parking outside the village (yep, yet another long walk for yours truly while ferrying stuff from the car to the house), we walked to the house next door to the one we had rented – both houses are owned by Brits Nick and Jackie, who showed us around and introduced us to Zorro, their very friendly black Labrador.
Then, ferrying finished, I ran back down to the car with my camera beneath a sky stained blood-red by the setting sun.