During these busy months I had not allowed myself to think of the little valley where we are going. Or the house that withstood the harsh winter of last year. Or the snow that piled up against the door, the ice that froze the pipes and the bats that nested in the roof. I did not think of the wind that would have lashed against the terraza, undoubtedly chipping off the paint and discolouring the walls.
There will be work to do when we arrive; painting and cleaning and washing and ironing. The clothes line will flap with white sheets, the soot will be swept from the chimney, the cooker will splutter into use. I shall examine the larder, check out the tins, the dried pasta, the rice.
On the way up from the airport we would have stopped to buy bread, butter, a few tomatoes, some mozzarella, a little piece of parmesan, some parsley, a few borlotti beans and a bottle of local wine. Although on arriving there will be a little cluster of presents awaiting us by the front door, Cargalla's way of welcoming us back.
We will see no one during those first hours for our friends in the village will tactfully leave us alone as we dust and shake rugs, sweep floors and make beds. The sun will turn slowly on the hillside shining dazzling pin pricks through the trees. And we will listen out for the nightingale in our Ulmo tree. While far above us on the Prati I will see again the place I wrote about in my novel The Road To Urbino. Then finally as dusk descends and the lights come out around the hillside and the smell of cooking fills the air, and the bats fly away to another deserted house in disgust, there will be the sound of footsteps on the cobbled lane outside before the first soft knock.
'Benvenuti! Welcome back!'
P.S. As last year, share your summer photographs now on the theme of all things Green. I will post them up in September.