- consistently hot sun
- kitchen gardens, offering lemons, courgettes, tomatoes, bay leaves...
- beautifully bronzed men wearing white linen shirts and caramel-coloured trousers....
(.... yep, that's my list of priorities: sunshine, food and men!)
The flight itself was very smooth and offered great views out of the window of the mountains - first the Massif Central and then the Alps. Before I'd even had time to think about taking a nap, I had arrived at my destination airport and I was met by the friends I was staying with. The holiday was underway.
A typical day would see the morning being spent dashing around discovering Rome, the afternoon playing in the pool, and then helping my friend's mum prepare mozzarella-courgette-flowers for dinner. After the meal, we'd go down to the sea front, to take a stroll and have an ice cream.
We spent Sunday at St Peters, receiving a history lesson from the dad as he was showing us around. We ate out at one of Catherine Deneuve's favourite restaurants, one evening we went over to a friend's house (which deserved a blog post all of its own!) and on another evening, we got naked at some open-air, hot-spring thermal baths.
The weather was great, the food outstanding and the men gorgeous. One night, we'd gone up into the mountains for a festival and I ended up getting being serenaded by a 12 piece jazz band. I also became rather fond of going down to the market with my friend's mum, right after breakfast, where I would meet up with a local wine producer and try his wines.
All that was packed into a week. Initially I feared it would not be long enough, but as it turned out, it was perfect.
There are things that Italy can't offer: baguettes, croissants and light fanciful macarons, for example. Even though the late-night gelato is a trend I would love to start up in Paris, it's not quite the same as sitting out at a cafe on the rue des Abbesses people-watching. However, the week away was just enough to take a step back from the busy pace of city living and, once again, be made to appreciate the simple things in life, especially if it comes served with a ball of mozzarella drizzled in olive oil.