My Summer in Italy – a visual diary

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My host family’s beautiful organic garden in San Giovanni Valdarno which means on the valley of the Arno River. This is the river that runs through Florence which is just a short 30 minute train ride away.

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Pears picked fresh from their garden

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I’ve forgotten the name of this small otter like creature. They were on the banks of the Arno River which flows through S. Giovanni.

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The view from my bedroom window

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On the first day after Italian class, the school took us on an excursion to a vineyard in Chianti country. It was a big mistake when I told them that I wouldn’t be drinking because then they asked me to drive. We couldn’t all fit in the one car. The car was a very wide Fiat, the road was very narrow and I hadn’t driven a left hand drive manual car since my twenties. Well… as you can see we made it there and back and I thank the support of my fellow students Marilyn, kate and Lucy who were brave enough to get into the car again for the return journey.

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Fellow classmates, Marilyn and Lucy

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The town hall of San Giovanni

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One of the many wonderful things about Il sillabo, the Italian school I attended in S. Giovanni are the excursions. This one was to Florence which our teacher took us to. Of course everything is explained in Italian so it’s total immersion. Another plus for the school is that there are no tourists so nobody in the town speaks English.

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I love city walls. This is part of Florence’s ancient wall

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San Giovanni station waiting for the train to Arezzo. This little dog didn’t want to go into the train station but as soon as the owner opened her bag, it hopped straight in.

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beauty in the detail

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Children’s author and friend, Krista Bell was living in Florence at the same time and we met for a quick coffee before she went off to Arezzo. It was Krista who led the way into Italy for me.

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My lovely host family Anna and Franco with my mum and me. Mum joined me in S. Giovanni for my final week there.

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the delicious lunch Anna prepared for us

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After Mum came I moved into an apartment in the historical center. This was taken from the kitchen window. I know will play some part in my new novel.

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Another school excursion. This time to the amazing town of spires – San Gimignamo.

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Our apartment – kitchen, living room and entrance hall all in one. The view from the window looked out onto one of the main streets that lead to the piazza. Every afternoon from 4 onwards, everyone would come out for a stroll.

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There were two bedrooms. My mum took the main room at the front and I had this back one. What amazed me was the little piece of fresco that had been left unpainted. The floors were also the original tiles. I believe the building dated back to the 1600’s.

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This is the fresco. The photo is not very clear unfortunately and the painting has faded a lot.

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Our teacher, Francesca, and fellow student Marilyn and my last day of class.

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My bedroom at beautiful Romito, a 200 year old restored farmhouse that belongs to friends in Tuscany.

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Romito which means ‘hermit’ in Italian, is set amongst olive groves and vineyards

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One of the many delicious meals we had at Romito with beautiful friends. Chris on the left owns one of my favorite bookshops Avenue Bookshop in Albert Park

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Romito’s olive grove. The olive oil is such a beautiful green.

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One of Jeffrey Smart’s pugs who came out to greet us. We visited the home of the amazing Australian painter, Jeffrey Smart.

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Jeffrey Smart

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Our last meal in Italy was in Italy at Ristorante Paoli. This is a must eat place if you are going to Florence. The porcini is so delicious. Not only is the food wonderful but it is a beautiful building with vaulted ceilings painted with frescoes.

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