Villa Mangiacane. Surely the name can’t mean ‘eat dog’? It seemed slightly odd that a Tuscan Villa would be named after a culinary practice probably more accepted in China than Italy. After some research I discovered, thankfully, that the name is indeed Latin and translates as ‘noble dog’.
After some deliberation, well not that much to be honest, I mean who would really have to think twice after being invited to a long weekend in Tuscany, I agreed to meet my travel companion; an old ‘friend’ who I had seen twice in the last 5 years. I have to admit I was slightly apprehensive about spending an entire weekend with someone who I didn’t actually know that well and who I thought may have ulterior motives.
John Dear was waiting expectantly for me in arrivals at Florence airport. After a brief and slightly surreal rendevous he whisked me off to Villa Mangiacane. The night was cool and quiet when we arrived and we were ushered silently to our room. And what a magnificent room.
A raised mezzanine level which housed a spectacularly large bed, with Baci’s on the pillow much to my sweet tooths delight. A sweeping staircase led down to the lounge with two enormous windows offering breathtaking views across the misty Tuscan hills and all the way to Florence on a clear day.
The marble clad bathroom was resplendent with a jacuzzi in the corner and yet again more sweeping views of the beautiful landscape from the window.
It was all a bit too much to take in and feeling weary after the flight I made straight for the enormous bed. After a glass of chianti in the jacuzzi of course. That glass of wine marked the start of a gastronomic couple of days, or perhaps more appropriately, hedonistic.
The following morning after a luxuriously long lie in, I managed to drag myself out of the vast sea of beautifully crisp white sheets and we headed down for breakfast. In the light of day I could fully appreciate just how magnificent this villa was. The frescoes on the wall though to be painted my Michelangelo himself, the beautiful proportions of the rooms, the huge balcony’s with endless views, the olive groves and surprisingly an abundance of Shona sculptures from Zimbabwe in the gardens . This made more sense when I learned that the owner, Glynn is originally from Zimbabwe and devotes a lot of his time and money to the arts. The only thing that I had not yet seen and was anxiously trying to find were the two miniature horses that lived in the villa. John Dear led me to them the next day and we found them amongst the olive groves contentedly munching away on some grass and seemingly indifferent to my cooing and attempts to entice them with a pair of empty hands pretending to house a tasty morsel. I had hoped for a better reception but not to worry, I had two more days to try and win their affections.
Our first excursion was to Florence to visit the Ufizzi Gallery. As expected the gallery was crammed full of incredible renaissance sculptures and botticelli paintings. Walking around the gallery slightly dazed by the sensory overload, John Dear realised that his Blackberry was missing. Possibly a major setback in our itinerary. I called his blackberry and a young Italian lady answered the phone. I quickly passed the phone over to him. “Ciao, this is my phone” he said in his best Italian accent. The woman on the other end obviously did not speak much English and the conversation continued for a while with JD’s voice becoming louder and more deliberate with each sentence and the Italian accent quickly deteriorating into his native south african inflection.