From In A Tuscan Garden, published anonymously 1902
Some friends, living at a considerable distance from where we were, wrote to us, saying that they thought we might find what we required in an old villa in their neighbourhood which had just been put in order – Italian order – for letting. Accordingly we left home early one morning to inspect this particular house, and to explore the neighbourhood generally. The place we had come so far to see was a rambling, old-fashioned farm-house, situated on a hill; the ascent would soon have knocked to pieces woman or beast, and it was away from any main road – it would have been admirable for a man and his wife wishing to rear a family of boys and girls in a back-woods kind of fashion, but we were not prepared to accept that kind of existence. Its one merit was the extremely small rent asked for a whole floor of good rooms; but, as I ran my eye over them, and took stock of all that would have to be done before these were habitable according to English ideas, I felt that the cheapness was of the kind likely to be very expensive in the long run, - so, much regretting the lost time and trouble, we prepared to return to our own part of the country. But, thinking it a pity not to vary our route, we struck, rather at random, through various fields and lanes, exploring more than one tenement as we went along, and finally arriving, very hot and tired, at a small village of a not very inviting aspect.
In my time, in the “good old days”, the fashion for English people to inhabit country-houses in the neighbourhood of Florence was almost unknown. Here and there an Anglo-Italian, settled in Italy for business or other reasons, might own a property on which he would spend a few weeks in summer. But the English in those days had not spread themselves over the face of the land, as they have since done, consequently I was quite ignorant of the lay of the land, or of where we were, or how far distant from Florence. A few steps ahead of us some large iron gates stood open, disclosing a long avenue thickly planted with trees. I pointed this out to my companion and suggested our exploring it, to see what might be found within. She, being very tired, and somewhat cross, protested loudly: “I cannot think,” said she, “what makes you want to go there. It is evidently private ground; no one else does such things.”