Old gold in Toscano

I now know why Milano Centrale railway station smells like a large urinal: because the toilets cost E1 entrance! We were all titillated with the news that it cost a pound to ‘spend a penny' in London’s Harrods, but this is not quite the same experience. It even has electronic gates like the metro stations.

The next leg of the Italian trip is a walk through Tuscany. The train journey from Milano to Buonconvento in southern Tuscany was the first day of drizzling rain that miraculously held off during Milan's design festival, much of which was open to the elements.

Encouragingly, even the locals on the regional train bound for Sienna don’t know the starting town of Buonconvento. Perhaps it really is undiscovered. My scepticism radar is switched on high, though…

Ahhh, lovely, lovely Italy. Blessed is the country that gives hope to those of us plagued by the advent of aging. It’s a land where short, fat old people are papparazzi’d by amateur photographers in the narrow streets.

To illustrate: I’m standing at the atmospheric medieval gates of bucolic Buonconvento’s when the stout backsides and black dresses of two old ladies prove too much, and they are snapped relentlessly by a bevy of tourists at as they chat about the things old Italian ladies chat about – flowers in the church, grandchild one-upmanship, Sex and the City…

The places to go for internet on this trip included a very nice bar in Montelcino that sells the local superstar wine, Brunello de Montelcino, by the glass in a range of vintages. Unfortunately, it also came with the resident barfly, Massimo, who tried to ply me with cheap pro secco and stand behind my shoulder to watch me working. If he didn’t have a few ‘roos loose in the top paddock, I would have smacked his chops.

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