I am just back from an Italian hamlet near Cortona where I spent 10 days in 40degrees heat. We stayed in a beautiful tumble down farmhouse, the garden was exquisite, but I have returned exhausted and with a desperate need to diet.
I couldn’t sleep; it was too hot. I also had constant headaches, and was on full alert as one of the other guests had told me my room was haunted.
The lunches were huge. We thought nothing of tucking into parma ham and melon, tomato and mozzarella, fine thin bread, bread in the shape of a disc, figs, cheese, and variations on that theme. Dinner could be pasta or pizza at the local tavern or grilled pork in Cortona. I started off with a keen need to swim 100 lengths a day, like Maggie Fergusson another guest, and author of the brilliant biography, The Life of George Mackay Brown. But by day 10 my girth had ballooned but my will power had slipped and I was only swimming about 4 lengths a day and at best 10.
Sure I read a few great books and saw some heart-stoppingly beautiful Piero della Francesca murals in the Basilica di San Francesco, Arezzo, and more stunning frescoes in the Brancacci chapel in Florence on the way home. I also managed two half a mile walks up a hill but other than that spent most of the time supine.
I have just finished a first draft of my new novel, The Summer Holiday, set in a house party in Italy, so no doubt some of the details, like the different kinds of bees that buzzed across the lavender and the church bells striking the hour of day, will find their way into the new book. Please if you haven’t already, buy my current novel, a great summer read, The Seven Year Itch.
Beauty Tip: I was sent a travel pack by Incognito, who specialise in deet free mosquito products, which also smell really good. Their moisturizer doubles as an anti mosquito cream is great because it cuts down on the exhausting effort of piling on moisturizer and then anti mosquito - http://www.lessmosquito.com One less thing to do in the heat.