Sergio (our host) is up early to prepare our breakfast, feed his 4 donkeys and get ready for his day as bank manager in San Quirico. He directed me to the back seat and Corrie to the front, he loves to talk and he realised Corrie understood more Italian than me – she also speaks a lot with her hands. He drove us to our starting point about 5kms away – a hug for me and a hand kiss for Corrie and we left this exuberant Italian.

Off into a deep fog, we could see little but the sagging cobwebs on the bushes flanking our narrow pathway. By 10.00 am the fog had mostly lifted as vestiges hung in the valleys, like low clouds had dropped from above. Our pathway led high up into the hills and we delighted in the cool breeze on our so narrow ridge where we could see the whole scene on both sides. After Marco heard where we were going he described it thus.

You are entering the Val d’Orcia (Orcia Valley) – the beautiful colours of the countryside, the smooth shapes of the hills and the food. “You’re in the temple of the Tuscan kitchen and every product of the ground is a masterpiece of nature”. He suggested we eat directly from the farms, and taste the wine in the caves.

We didn’t eat in the farms or drink in the caves because it was too early, but we will try tomorrow. It’s all that he said it was and more. The Tuscan countryside is becoming more grand, the hills steeper, the valleys sharper, the crops brighter, and I presume the soil is still exciting the artist’s eye.

Because we mostly walk into the sun, I often need to look back to take photos so my camera is forcing me into taking in a panoramic vista. It is so quiet on the track – a few local cars and tractors, a dog and a cat or two, some Africans picking grapes, 1 walker, and a few people in a village, were our only potential relationships.

Weary from our walk I leant up against a street sign as Corrie and I tried to work out where Sergio’s friend was – someone he recommended to us last night. As we were leaning and looking a middle aged Italian couple pulled up in their car and gave us 2 freshly picked apples – wow, I’ve never tasted a crunchy apple in Europe before, and tried to portray this to this thoughtful couple.

Refreshed, we strolled down the street looking for our villa and while dawdling outside what I thought could be our new home, Alessandra bongiorno’d from a top window and asked if I was William. She took us into their marble staircase mansion and showed us to our inexpensive beautiful log furniture room – the bed, side tables, dresser, mirror, drawers and wardrobe and….. a rocking chair, all made of logs. From our window we view the stone walls of the old city.