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A Philosophy of life
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Alistair and Barbara Webster from Rochdale UK


As you turn off the autostrada, Cortona, ancient city built into the side of the hill, dominating the plain, looks as though it has just grown out of the rock. Driving along the fertile valley through Pergo, it seems to be a different type of world from the crete and the Val di chiana: fertile, almost somnolent in the heat. And then over the pass, and down towards Pierle, and yet another world as you enter the timeless woodland which surrounds Vagli.
It’s easy to romanticise Tuscany and to dream of it as a landscape which has always been as tranquil as it seems today, stretched out luxuriously under the sun. But the very existence of the Rocca at Pierle and the watchtower at Vagli speak of a more threatening past.
No threats now, except the danger of not wanting to go home. At whatever time of year, Vagli is a haven: it’s not a place out of time – the internet and other modern developments see to that – but it is a place in which to reflect, to unwind and to give time to the many things which a busy professional life usually blots out.
Spending a few minutes watching the sun dappling the floor though the vine canopy; watching the boar families coming for their afternoon rooting on the terraces; listening to the chatter and clinking from the kitchen. No pressure from the clock.
Of course, you can find these things in many places, no doubt, but the combination of the place, the people and the care taken in restoring the old hamlet make it unique.
Any friends or relatives who have spent time with us out here always seem to leave with a wistful smile upon their faces.
There is, of course, a downside: when your guard is down and the wine and food in the trattoria have worked their magic, there is always the danger of a noisy evening doing ( in my unfortunate case ) Monty Python impressions.
For which this Queen’s Counsel can only apologise – in the words taken from the Monty Python Italian phrasebook: “My hovercraft is full of eels!”

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