Olive Pigs - a hungry Italian adventure 🇮🇹

How to enjoy travelling

Olive Pigs - a hungry Italian adventure 🇮🇹

We’ve arrived at our converted barn apartment up in the Tuscan hills of Grève-in-Chianti.

The journey was the equivalent of getting a train from London to Manchester. Yet the experience couldn’t be more different.

As Beck said—and imagine this with your best Beck impression—“It’s a mockery of the British transport system!”

Firstly, let’s talk about the train stations. Picture your local stop: it’s probably got some off-brand coffee shop and a decaying WHSmith. That’s about it. I bet it doesn’t even have a Greggs. British stations are haunted liminal spaces that have no interest in making your stay enjoyable. Depressed staff, confusing departure times, and the hum of urine make our stations the architectural equivalent of the phrase “piss off.”

Rome Termini Train Station has a three-storey food market. And I’m not talking about a crappy chain-led foodhall. The place is filled with independent stalls with freshly made produce. There’s even a butcher in there! The Italian food culture refuses to bow down to poorly-made, yet profitable, corporate dining experiences. The one McDonalds I saw had apologetically hidden itself away in a dark corner like a dog that’s made a mess on the floor.

In the market, we were able to find a seat, order a drink at the table, and enjoy our chosen brunch (Pizza al taglio) while checking the departure times on the giant screen nearby. It was a completely stress free experience.

And that dedication to food quality continues in even the most unexpected places. We had booked a sort-of-first-class ticket for the whopping price of €19 (a first class ticket from London to Manchester will knock you back £188.10). Not only did we get our own personal table with reclining seats and power sockets, we also got a breakfast box containing a Cornetti (the Italian version of a croissant but don’t you dare say that to them) and a wheat biscuit. Spoiler alert: both were delicious. Did they need to be? Nope. But that refusal to accept mediocre food makes every dish, no matter how small, a delight.

And to top it off - we took a cross-country bus from Florence to Chianti. When I grew up in the countryside I watched the number of buses from my village into the city drop from five a day, down to just one (if it even bothered to show). To be fair, I guess more people are interested in visiting the rolling hills of Tuscany than the flat, bog land of Peterborough.

After a brisk trip up a hillside (thank god we bought a house high-up in Sheffield), we arrived at this charming, secluded barn conversion.

Now it’s time to rest after the easiest journey of my life.