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La Verna Monastery and the Fireflies of Tuscany, Italy - 14th June 2013

We spend a very relaxing day up in the mountains of the Tuscan Appenines at La Verna, an important centre for the Franciscan order as it is said to be where Saint Francis of Assisi received the stigmata. Even the packed restaurant proves to be a hit: at first glance it looks too formal for a spot of lunch with two small boys, and for a while we wonder where the menus are and what we've let ourselves in for. But after a while, bowls of food appear and it becomes apparent that we just choose whether or not we want to eat whatever it is - the bill being totted up on an honesty basis at the end. So lunch proves to be some nice tuna and tomato pasta, bread, olive oil, a few chips for Fred and an ice-cream to finish. Later, after another Limoncello session, Nosher gets the mini tripod out and spends an hour in the garden trying to capture the wonder of night-time fireflies, having never seen them before. Finally, on the way back to the airport, we stop off at Livorno, just on the coast near to Pisa, to see if we can find a beach to hang out on for a while.

next album: Thrandeston Pig Roast and Tractors, Thrandeston Little Green, Suffolk - 23rd June 2013
previous album: Italian Weddings, Saracens and Swimming Pools, Arezzo, Tuscany - 12th June 2013

The endless amusement of seeing actual lizards running around

Fred and Harry

The breakfast tables of Tenuta il Palazzo

Fred eats something, whilst wearing one of his random Korean tee-shirts

The pantile roofs of La Verna

Tourists and pilgrims mill around La Verna

Isobel and Fred

Harry tucks in to some tasty pasta in the restaurant

The death of Christ, depicted in lead-glazed teracotta

Isobel and Fred look up at the murals

Isobel and Harry plunge down in to the grotto

Fred in a cave

The camera's view belies the height of the monastery above the surrounding countryside

Old mediaeval wall paintings

Another lizard scurries about

Fred draws the bell tower

Isobel walks back from the bogs

Isobel, Harry, Fred and a large wooden cross

Inside the basilica of the Sanctuary of La Verna

On the way back down the mountainside, a rather cool old Lancia is spotted, parked in a lay-by

Isobel prepares some lunch

Fred eats his favourite thing of the moment: salami

Gabes has just a little bit of yoghurt on his face (again)

The giant pots of Il Palazzo

A discarded Tweety-Pie soft toy looks folorn

Arezzo sunset

Each green dot or streak is a firefly doing its thing

Firefly trails and star trails in the grounds of Tenuta Il Palazzo

Night life

More poppies of Tuscany

Piling out of the car, after a 30-minute search for parking

The waterfront at Livorno

Fred and Isobel on the cliffs at Livorno

Back at the Hertz drop-off at Pisa airport, our car wins 'cleanest return of the month' award. Isobel is proud

Fred and Harry scoff gelato at Pisa airport

A pigeon waits at Gate 9 for something to happen

Harry and Fred trundle off to explore the airport

Slightly unusual and cool clouds over the UK

A partial rainbow over Essex

Stansted airport

A Ruinair 737-800 retracts its front steps

The odd case of a very-long-lined car park - for stretch limos only

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The endless amusement of seeing actual lizards running around