Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Greetings From Tuscany

Tuscany....it's everything I'd hoped it would be and a lot more besides.

I've finally got internet that lets me use my own laptop so before diving (ok flopping) into the pool, I thought I'd do a quick blog/update and add a few photos to give a flavour of the flavour we're having of Italy.

We got to Rome last Thursday as I said on the previous post and we were there for 3 days. Here is a rough panorama I took at the top of the basilica dome of St. Peter's and it's 3 photos merged into one.

I know it's been taken many times before but never by me, so there. ! This is a rough merge and I'll do it better when I get home.

Ok before you look at the next photo, I need to explain a few things. First it was HOT and I'm bald so for the first few days I needed a hat and I'd forgotten to pack one. As ever, Daphne and Stephen had brought extra so I was grateful for any sort of hat. Ok ? Stop tittering.

Next, the big brute of a gladiator was pushing up on my jowels with his sword so it's his fault that I've a double chin. Ok ?

Finally, I'm retaining water so.......ok ?

These are two of the three not so bright gladiators who allowed us to take photos with them and THEN asked for money. Ha ! Guess they didn't know they were dealing with Yorkshire folk !
On yer chariot, mateys.

Right, with all that out of the way, here we go.......

On Saturday we went to the Circus Maximus and there wasn't a clown or elephant in sight. Maybe the show had left town but they left behind a pretty impressive stadium. Then it was up the road to The Colesseum which was a bit awesome. It seemed unfinished to me so maybe the recession has hit Rome or maybe they hired the same builders who have yet to finish my front porch. Who knows ?

After that it was on to The Trevi Fountain, The Pantheon and the Piazza Navona. I had my first ever gelato at The Trevi Fountain but most of it ran down my arm before it got to my mouth. Next time I'll ask for it in a cup I think. It was good though, Sarah.

We left Rome on Sunday morning to go back to the airport and pick up the rental car. Then we were off into the wild blue unknown and started with a drive along the coast road for our first sighting of the sea. It was wet and blue so we went inland again and up into Tuscany.

Wow. What an inspiring part of the world. I felt like getting out my canvas and whipping off a quick landscape.....and I don't even paint. It's absolutely stunning and I'm just glad my little Nikon can take video as a still photo can't do it justice.

We needed somewhere south of Siena to spend the night and found a stunning old villa/renovated farmhouse set up in the Tuscan hills overlooking a beautiful valley of vineyards.

Hotel Santa Genoveffa looked awesome with it’s classic Tuscan architecture with a large outdoor swimming pool completing the impression of luxury even though the place dated from the 16th century.

It was 100 euros for a triple room including breakfast which we agreed was a reasonable deal for what we saw and after being shown to our room, we hit the pool. We had to wear hats that made us look like water polo players - we assume it was to keep hairs out of the filter system but my theory was they were to stop all the gel and grease from Italian men’s hair from clogging things up.

Next morning, Monday, we headed up to Siena and what a lovely town that is. The car parking is outside the town walls and so the inside is car free and much better for that.

Walked to Il Campo and the piazza was awesome…..huge and so photogenic with the bell tower dominating the place. We looked around and then had something to eat at a sort of Italian McD’s as we had large pizza slices, a drink and fries for 6.50 euros each - best deal of the trip so far !

Then we went into the historic town hall which was at the base of the bell tower and paid 7 euros each to climb the hundreds of steps to the very top. The views over Siena were stunning.

Down again and we got some ice cream (gelato) and I had cherry flavour and it was yummy. Here is the place we got them from.......

The only hard thing was which flavour to pick !

Walked to the other famous site in Siena, Il Duomo, which is a church and bell tower but the tower is in a mix of black and white bricks and the front of the church is really ornate.

The modern crane kinda spoiled the view but I'll airbrush it out when I get home.

After that we went back to the the car park and as we’d been only 4 hrs, it was a reasonable 6.40 euros.

We let Sheila (my sat/nav) get us on the route to Florence with the added excursion to San Gimignano but she took us to a narrow dirt road at one point and we just couldn’t take it. She picked up the trail again after we went another way and when we got to the point where we left the SS223 to go to San Gimignano, at a small town called Castellina In Chianti, we got a place for the night but it was expensive and it’s pool closed at 6pm and it was after that when we got there !

The place was 13th century but they had to put a bed into the room for me and it was close to 150 euros for the night and had no air conditioning and if I left the window behind my head open to let in some air, everyone and his dog could see in as the room was on the ground floor. It was also a very noisy town with a fireworks display at 11:30 for soime reason and dogs were barking all night. It was also by the road and the young Agostini's on their motor bikes would race past in the early hours as they knew everyone was in bed.

No, we didn't fancy another night there and ironically now we're at a wonderful place just about a mile up the road as we went off westwards to spend the day at San Gimignano, the most complete medieval walled town in the whole world ever and then returned to Castellina In Chianti to pick up the road to Florence.

San Gimignano was good but not a patch on Siena, our fav place so far. I've no piccies of it to post as they are still in the camera.

Actually our fav 'place' so far has to be the Tuscan countryside as it's stunning.

Again the best ones were taken today and so are in the camera for another post.

Time to hit the pool and then a short stroll from our apartment - yes we got an apartment tonight for less than that awful place last night AND it comes with a/c and wi-fi internet (obviously) and a kitchen so as we went shopping today in a supermarket, we can make use of the fridge. We got goodies !!!

The apartment overlooks another typical Tuscan valley, and it's a short stroll to the local restaurant where we'll be going for our supper this evening. It was 35C/95F today and those have been the temps since we got here. All these Tuscan towns are on hills so we've been climbing like goats so a large supper is a welcome way to end the day.

So ciao for now.


ruth said...

fantastic photos of wonderful views, it sounds like a truly fabulous hoiday

Alexandra said...

I would have liked to see a photo of the silly water polo player hats that you had to wear in the pool!! It is true that almost all pools and thermal baths in Italy have a swim-cap requirement (probably bcs of that gel, you're right) but i have never seen funny caps like you describe!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

It all sounds such a great adventure. As I have got older I have felt a need to always book accommodation in advance so I am admiring your more carefree approach to finding rooms - that's how I used to travel. Hope your Italian tour continues as happily as it has begun.

rhymeswithplague said...

And the best part of Tuscany is that it has apostrophes!

Brit Gal Sarah said...

Well I now resemble the Incredible Hulk I am so green!! Thanks for having a Gelato for me, but did you to post those piccies!!

So glad you're enjoying Italy, I just adore the place and am loving your tour.

Silverback said...

Thanks for the comments, folks. Love reading them offline as internet is still patchy.
Keep them coming.

Jay said...

Oooooh! It all looks so lovely!! Except possibly the gelato which looks really syrupy sweet.

Beautiful pictures, beautiful architecture, beautiful weather. *Sigh* Why am I sitting at home waiting for it to rain?

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