Meet Heidi Flores and Lorenzo Balloni – Sawday’s owners of Le Due Volpi in Tuscany for nine years. From organising a romantic proposal with the mayor in attendance to reassuring city-dwellers that nature isn’t as dangerous as they think; doing B&B is so much more than a job to Heidi. It’s a new way of experiencing the world… although not the leisurely life they had hoped for!
Life at a Tuscan B&B
After some 20 odd years directing an undergraduate American university program in a breathtakingly beautiful villa overlooking Florence, my husband Lorenzo and I decided to break free. He would leave his vintner business to pursue his passion for restoring antique radios and vintage Italian racing bikes, I would learn to cook delicious dishes – preferably on a brand new Aga!
Choosing the Mugello over other areas in Tuscany was easy. It’s near to Fiesole, where Lorenzo is from, and to Florence. It’s also breathtakingly beautiful with rolling hills, wide vistas and a genuinely Italian culture.
We found the right house and I already knew we would call it Le Due Volpi after my bronze fountain of two stylised foxes gushing water into a stone trough – and of course there are plenty of real foxes around.
We looked forward to inviting all our friends to visit, and with a few rooms to rent through Sawday’s we would make new friends with travellers who would discover our corner of paradise. We had dreamed of a new, blissful existence and here it was! But a leisurely life – dolce far niente – what on earth were we thinking?
Now we leap out of bed early to water the garden, clean the pool, bake muffins, lay the breakfast table while feeding the puppies, then be at breakfast with the guests – a multi-language exchange about how to fix the world while pouring a cup of coffee to the guest who asked for tea…
And the people skills! How to gently encourage a young honeymoon couple to leave their room for a breath of probably much-need air, and how to explain to a city dweller that a scorpion sting isn’t really deadly and snakes on the path will shy away from them. One young guest wanted to propose to his girlfriend in a small village, with prosecco, the Mayor in full regalia and the village band playing – we sorted it!
By lunch time we’re usually ready to collapse, but after a short rest, new arrivals knock on the door and off we go again. It’s always exciting to meet new people – and, thanks to the internet, you have no idea who will turn up. Sometimes you don’t even know whether guests will be male or female, which country they come from or what their profession is. But then, over breakfast, their personalities unfold and their histories spill out and I’m fascinated, and start daydreaming about the places they come from, and the lives they lead.
Doing B&B isn’t a job – running Le Due Volpi is a new way of travelling, of day dreaming and of making lifelong friends.