Planes, trains and automobiles – probably the best way to describe this fleeting visit to the beautiful region of Tuscany to see one of my oldest pals, Kathryn, marry her beau, Matt.
I travelled down from Leeds to London on the Thursday night to drop off little pupster Oats with my parents, who were on baby sitting duty.
I had not been my most organised self with the logistics for this wedding so annoyingly was flying out of Stanstead the following morning, which was a first for me.
I arrived into Bologna late afternoon and proceeded to make my way down to the train station via bus, catching glimpses of the city on the way. I had to get a couple of trains, one initially to Florence, the second from Florence to the small Tuscan town of Bucine.
I arrived at around 10pm but luckily had organised a taxi service which picked me up from the station and took me up the winding hills to our accommodation Poggio Cennina. Even though I arrived late, I actually arrived earlier than the rest of the clan; Colette, Ali, Tor, Elle and baby Evvie who had made the journey from Bologne on road. This did mean however that I had first dibs on rooms in our gorgeous villa. Score!
Our accommodation had been recommended to us by Kathryn and Matt, and I must admit, it was absolutely beautiful; situated on a hill overlooking the Val d’Ambra, the well known geographical triangle formed by three Tuscan cities of art: Arezzo, Siena and Florence. We had booked the ‘Villa Lepre’ which was a lovely 3 bedroom house decorated in typical Tuscan fashion – it was gorgeous! The resort boats a whole host of different villas with pristine landscaped gardens, a pool, spa, tennis court and views that went on for miles. It’s not the cheapest of places to stay but was really lovely, family owned and perfectly located for us.
After a fantastic night sleep, the next morning, we decided that we would hop in the car and have a little explore of the local area seeing as we weren’t being picked up for the wedding until 3pm that afternoon. We drove 10 minutes or so away from Bucine to the stunning little hillside village of Ambra. Ambra is one of the oldest villages in the area; once a feudal stronghold belonging to the 13th-century Guidi clan overlords, it has retained a charming medieval feel in the old center, where twisty and narrow streets lead up to the center of the old fortified town. In summer, concerts and “cinema under the stars” take place in the old square, enclosed on all sides by the ancientcastello. On our visit, the locals were setting up little stalls and stands which, we later discovered, was for the annual Arezzo Streetfood Village festival – so jealous we didn’t have time to hang around!
We wandered into the beautiful Piazza in the hunt for caffeine, and set our sites on the little Sandy Caffe where we sat out on the pavement and enjoyed their delicious 1 euro coffees and pastry. Why is it that coffee does just taste so much better on the continent!?
Having caffeined ourselves up we popped into the local grocery store (which was literally the tiniest little place I have ever seen!) to pick up some reserves. It was a strange store, if you wanted an apple for example, you couldn’t go ahead and pick it up off the shelf, you had to ask the shop assistant to do it for you. The locals were all really lovely and we made especially good pals with the cute little man we met in the ATM. Oh Italy and your rustic cuteness.
The store had it’s own counter of locally made fresh pasta which I couldn’t resist purchasing to take back home with me. With burrata being my absolute favorite, I decided to bring a pack of filled tortellini back with me to make at home. (Side note – I did take it home, and I made an Italian recipe of fresh roasted tomato and basil sauce and allll the parmesan to go with it – delish!).
Having explored the beautiful old town for a little while, we hopped back in the car (with coffees to go) and headed back towards Poggio Cennina where our host Raffaella had agreed to make us a quick lunch to keep us going until the wedding. I opted for a cold pasta salad which was chocca full of lots of Italian cuts of meat, vegetables, cheese and plenty of olive oil. We also had a whole ton of gorgeous caprese salad to share, washed down with plenty of Italian white wine. It was perfect!
Stuffed, we headed back to the room to get ourselves wedding ready before being picked up at 3pm an taken across to the wedding venue; Villa La Selva inMontebenichi, Bucine.
Villa La Selva is a gorgeous 14￼ century wine resort tucked away high up in the rolling Tuscan Hills surrounded by stunning vineyards. It’s literally such a gorgeous wedding venue, and so Kathryn and Matt.
On arrival, we all stood out in the beautiful courtyard sipping on prosecco before being led down to the gourgeous outdoor area where the actual ceremony was being held. The sun was beaming, and after a day or so of really patchy weather in Tuscany, Kat and Matt totally scored the luck card.
The ceremony was absolutely lovely with Kat, Matt and the bridesmaids all looking fantastic. I wont lie, there definitely wasn’t a dry eye in the house, particularly mine!
After the ceremony, we all moved to a tree lined courtyard where a band played music in the background and we all toasted the new Mr and Mrs Siyani. There was of course, knowing the foodies that are Kat and Matt, incredible finger food on offer ranging from tempura vegetables (frittura di verdure miste), truffled cheese canapes (!) and panzanella salad. Oh wow.
After a little while mingling we were all brought up to the gorgeous terrace where dinner was to be served; I won’t lie, we were all very excited about the prospect of a proper meal of Italian food – let’s just say this did not disappoint!
To start, we were served a super tasty caprese salad; there’s no denying it, caprese in Italy just cannot be beaten. For secondi, and this was my favorite element of the meal by far – homemade ravioli with black truffle, mascarpone and walnut butter. Oh wow. Literally I could live on truffle. And pasta. Obvs.
The main course was the most delicious medium rare t-bone steak with roast potatoes, salsa verde and mixed salad washed down with plenty of Italian wine.
Following the main course the speeches began and these are always my favorite part of the wedding! Kathryn’s dad, Matt the groom and his best man all did hilarious speeches whilst the sparking wine was kept a’flowing.
Having watched the newly weds have their first dance they proceeded to cut the cake which was lemon curd with raspberry and chocolate mud cake; I can vouch absolutely it was delicious.
The rest of the evening was spent dancing our way into the wee small hours which was the perfect way to celebrate these two love birds tying the knot.
The next morning bright and early I made my way home so it really was the most fleeting of visits to Italy, but one which I wouldn’t have missed for the world!
Let’s just say, strong Italian espresso was needed.