Facendo nulla

24 August 2017
Ben Pentreath

(is Italian for ‘doing nothing’). I’m home from Italy. Back here, Charlie’s been manically getting ready for the Melplash show. As I write, he’s still over in the Horticultural Tent on the other side of Bridport putting together his final bits and pieces (in fact, I rather hope he’s on the way home now).  Meanwhile, I’ve been doing nothing at all except letting a week drift by slowly, catching up with my friend Valentina.

There’s something magical about the unchangingness of a house you visit year after year, for fifteen years; so you instantly notice the subtle changes, like the trees this year that are not so much turning to autumn as suffering from drought – but catching golden light on my first evening at the house. 

Perfect sunsets; no change there. Our life dips into a rhythm of trips to Gaiole for the morning shopping, long afternoons of reading, and lying in the sun, and taking a dip in the pool; evenings eating delicious meals cooked by Valentina, and nights playing Articulate, and talking, and drinking local red wine. And so it has been, year after year after year.

One morning we popped into Radda, just for a change of scene. I was delighted to see a large stack of stacking chairs in the main square, waiting patiently. More stacking chairs in the Park:

The view out from Radda: I love how many oldish Fiats there are in all these small Tuscan towns.

As well as some very smart really old ones. One evening the sunset gave up spectacular jet-trails, tracing across the sky…

We did a usual visit to Siena, dropping off Cree at the station, and later collecting Mim.   I love wandering around Siena – as in Florence, or Rome, making sure you get one or two streets off the main drag, almost instantly to find yourself in the deserted places of the city. 

For old times sake, Val and I had lunch at Osteria le Logge.

We met Mim at San Domenico, which I’d never been in before. 

I love the contrast you find in all Italian churches (well, in all churches everywhere) between High Baroque and outdated technology. The cleaners cupboard had overtaken a pretty nice marble font.
More stacking chairs.

On our last evening, we went for drinks with Valentina’s friend Catherine across the valley. On the way back is this unchanging view looking back from Cacchiano to the distant towers of Siena, that I must have written about a dozen times before. This view is one of my favourite things in the whole of Tuscany. 

The sun set on the final evening. How soon holidays pass, especially when you do nothing at all. 

But how good they are.

8 comments on this post


Beautiful photos Ben! I especially loved the jet trails.
I hope Charlie did well at the Melplash show – I assume you will be doing a blog on his entries and winnings?


Another lovely blog Ben.We have just returned home from another holiday in Dorset staying at Eype.We visited the Melpash Show l loved the horticulture tent good to see that Charlie had got some awards l loved his rose and the display with cowslip two of my favourite flowers.With reference to your last comment l would say that every civilised man/woman should love his homeland first (mine being Stourbridge Worcestershire) and then Dorset.I truly love the gentleness of the countryside in Dorset and how it meets the beautiful coastline Dorset always welcomes and nurtures like an old friend giving you a big hug.We have returned relaxed even though August was a busy time for holiday makers there were many peaceful places for enjoying nature and peacefulness away from the crowds.

Anna K.says:

Lovely images, Ben, that stirred memories for me too. I was in Tuscany only a couple of months ago.

My father used to say, ‘Every civilised man should love first his homeland, and then Italy.’ I don’t know whether it’s a quote – but it’s so true!

Sally Leonardsays:

Thanks so much for this post about your beloved Tuscany. I’ve only visited once but visit it in my memory over and over again.
Siena was my very favorite town. We walked for hours and even got lost, which was wonderful! I felt like a time-traveler in Siena! Fabulous!


big sigh of peaceful contentment, all is well with the world’ tuscany! thank you for your generous sharing of your past few days, dear ben. not sure how you departed tuscany, big ‘cept, for charlie and mavis!



Ben have you stopped working you seem to be on holiday all the time while the rest of us work hard making ends meet ?


Beautiful landscape and photos. I was lucky enough to go to Tuscany when I did my Art History degree ( quite a few years ago now1!) but I remember it like yesterday. Lovely to see it again!! Always dreamt of going back. You have now inspired me!! I love the light in Italy, the way it melts across the landscape and is so intense on the buildings that it defines a sort of aesthetic austerity!! ( if this makes sense!!) , and creates a contrast of sunlight and shadows which seem so different to those conjured by the Dorset light at home.


Dear Ben & Charlie
Now I know what is Melplash ….. a village in Dorset 🙂 …..
Thank you Google !
Hope Charlie was successful and is now back at home !
I’m glad you had a nice week in Italy. Thank you for the beautiful photos from Tuscany, I can feel the same, we visit also one or two times every year the same place in Tuscany and the same cottage of our friends Paola e Lapo.
Tuscany is always a dream, the Chianti area, Firenze to Val di Chiana ( cattles ! ), sun, nature, villages, houses, wine, great food ….. so fantastic ! I’m looking forward end of October, that’s our next visit AND end of December for New Years Eve finally England 🙂 🙂 🙂
Have a nice weekend, enjoy it
Yours Birgit from Germany.

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