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The Da Vinci road: walking through Tuscany

Five hundred years after the death of Leonardo, our writer sets off on a walk between the Renaissance cities of Florence and Siena, sampling sublime food and wine along the way

On the first morning, I lean out of my hotel window in Florence and admire the garden below. Whose can it be? There’s a wonderful curving greenhouse that leans on an ancient wall. There are palms and lemon trees, fragments of time-worn statuary, an elegant wrought-iron table with a chair. On the table is a folded newspaper and a steaming espresso coffee, but no gardener visible. It’s all a bit untidy and overgrown, enclosed by tawny walls capped with pan tiles, many apparently ready to slide off on to the artfully abandoned terracotta urns below. This is exactly what I expected and wanted from Tuscany: a place that looked carelessly civilised, and had been that way for a very long time.

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