Griff Rhys Jones flew with British Airways (0344 493 0787; ba.com) from London City airport to Pisa, with fares from £86 return. EasyJet flies from London Gatwick to Pisa with fares from £28 return. From Pisa, rent a car with one of 10 providers at the airport including Avis, Hertz, Europcar and Sixt. Idyllic Italy (0161 787 8587; bridgewater travel.co.uk) has a number of large villas in the Monte Argentario region, including Torre di Talamone – featured in the Bond film Quantum of Solace – with panoramic views of Porto Santo Stefano; from £7,828 per week, sleeps 12. To Tuscany (0121 286 7782; to-tuscany.com) offers smaller villas on the peninsula, such as Bellavista at Punta Nera (from £1,602 per week) and Villetta at Punta Nera (from £1,887 per week), both sleeping four. If you prefer a hotel, consider the elegant Hotel Il Pellicano near Porto Ercole, on the south side of the peninsula. Rooms from £560 per night; see our expert review at telegraph. co.uk/ilpellicano. hearts that didn’t feel like thistles and tomatoes that tasted strange because they tasted of tomato. After all the overindulgence, I slept badly.
At 4am, the house began to rattle with bangs and thuds. Dragging on shorts, I stepped out into a wild world of thrashing olive trees and bending cypresses as a warm, damp Sirocco wind swept furiously over the mountain and battered our handsome dark green shutters.
The next day, we took a boat out. From the water, the town of Porto Santo Stefano is piled up like a hanging garden. Elsewhere, much of old Argentario has faded. The farms are like rubbed-out scribbles on the hillside; the terraces are overgrown. But here, out a bit, we could see above town: serried ranks of carefully tended olive trees blob down a steep slope; cypresses draw vertical lines of hatched darkness. In this one bowl of mountainside, a vision of sharp-shadowed, cultivated Tuscan countryside hangs over a rocky shore and a wine-dark sea.
We motored around the headland in a fresh breeze. There were two or three grey beaches, where Zodiac inflatables and a couple of motor boats had anchored. We joined them, and jumped in off the bow. The water was pleasant, even in June. Blue fish swam in pretty patterns 10ft below us.
We upped anchor and sped back to harbour where, with the north coast snaking away and Elba’s blue mountains closing the horizon, it felt like we were on the shore of some gigantic, shimmering blue lake. Beyond the islands of the Tuscan archipelago, the alpine summits of Corsica are often