We then followed a small watercourse. Along its banks we found a carpet of Allium triquetrum still in full flower because of the unusually cold weather, as well as a few specimens of Cyclamen repandum; Goffredo pointed to the twisted, tropical-looking features of the wild fig-tree (Ficus carica) and the wild grapevines (Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris) – both of them are typically connected with these gullies along the coasts of C-Italy. Where the gully opened into a larger, stony bed, the creek was lined with Tamarix africana.
It was a welcome walk before continuing on to Hotel La Caletta, right beside the sea in the small seaport of Porto Santo Stefano on the Monte Argentario peninsula. The peninsula is joined to the mainland by two sand spits and a causeway, an area much appreciated by Italians but in early May there were few tourists.
It was blissful to wake on our first morning, Monday 6 May, right beside the sea. All our rooms looked over the sea, as did the restaurant. At breakfast we marvelled at the selection of juices, fruit, pies, tarts, jams, honey, yoghurts, crispbreads and cakes.
Members had been told that to get the best out of the trip they must be happy to walk several kilometres each day. The morning walk, a short drive from our hotel, was about five kilometres on a dirt track with a side extension on a rocky path through Quercus ilex coppice woods and low Rosmarinus officinalis scrub to a limestone peak with wonderful sea views towards Giglio Island, where the Costa Concordia cruise ship was wrecked in 2012, Elba and Montecristo.