Would you like to jack in your job and emigrate to Italy?
Would you like to own a vineyard and an olive grove in Tuscany? Would you be happy to share the grape-picking and olive-tending with nine total strangers?
Ten Brits said “yes” to all three of those questions and the result is Second Chance Summer (Wednesdays, BBC2, 9pm). Last September, they moved to a farm called La Banditaccia in the foothills of Mount Amiata in central Tuscany for two months.
The nearest village is the historic, very pretty Monticello Amiata, while the nearest towns are the also rather lovely Cinigiano and Castel del Piano, which are only an hour’s drive from Florence.
“Tuscany has been done to death but this part hasn’t,” explains Rob, who’s 38 and the youngest member of the group. “The part that we’re in is a farming community. So it’s kind of like if you go to the Yorkshire Moors of Italy. It’s a really, really beautiful part of the world and there’s a real sense of community. Everybody knows each other in the little towns and villages. It’s ripe for a bit of gossip but it’s also quite nice because people say ciao.”
Rob enjoys the country air
Before taking part in Second Chance Summer, Rob managed a boutique hunting and fishing hotel in the Scottish Highlands. It didn’t take long for him to warm to his new home.
“You’ve got the cypress trees, the cicadas in the evening, that lovely warm air all the time. I was born in Cyprus and it reminded me of growing up there. It just feels lovely and fresh and clean here. There’s no light pollution at nighttime so you can see the stars. So that’s the thing I loved about the place – it’s really quiet, it’s really peaceful.”
He wasn’t the only member of the group for whom it was love at first sight.
“First impression? Gorgeous,” says Andy, a retired police detective from Gloucestershire. “The colour, the light, the scenery. It’s somewhere that you have to see to believe, to be honest. Tuscany is rustic, beautiful, golden, especially the countryside.”
“The thing that struck me most of all is the countryside – it’s absolutely stunning,” adds Gavin, who hails from Yorkshire. “I’ve never seen country like it: the rolling hills. The light as well. There’s something very unique about the light in Tuscany. That’s one thing that made a big impression me.”
Second Chance Summer is on Wednesdays on BBC2 at 9pm
Radio Times Travel holidays
Florence & Tuscany, 7 nights from £849pp. Stay in central Florence and the enchanting medieval town of Volterra in three-star superior and four-star hotels with breakfast and four dinners. Guided tour of Florence, pearl of the Renaissance. Visit to the Uffizi, one of the finest art galleries in the world. Sample exquisite wines at a typical Cantina in Tuscany. Visit to Pisa, home of the leaning tower. Visit to San Gimignano, one of Italy’s most beautiful villages. Guided tour of Siena, one of the finest medieval cities. Click here for more details and to book
Lake Garda, 7 nights from £299pp. Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake, has captivated visitors for over a century with its spectacular scenery – clear blue waters fringed by towering mountains and groves of olives and citrus. Explore its colourful, stylish resorts and historic lakeside towns, and enjoy all that this beautiful region has to offer. Click here for more details and to book