Saturday, October 17, 2009

Italy Day 4 - 30th August 2009

I didn't want to overwhelm/bore you with constant posts about Italy and so I've left it a while since the last entry. The story now continues......

After spending two and a half days sightseeing in Rome, it was time to head for the hills.


We left the Sheraton Hilton on the 10am shuttle as we needed to pick up our rental car, a Ford Focus Wagon, from the airport. We hadn't ordered a FFW but you know how that goes !

I'd programmed my GPS to take us from the airport up the coast and then inland to Siena, a short trip of 153 miles, but we were in no hurry and wanted to enjoy our first real taste of Italy.

And what a taste we got. As Fiumicino Airport was well outside the built up west side of Rome, we were into rural Italian countyside from the get go. We soon hit the coast but even though I'd picked the closest route to the sea (SS1), we rarely caught sight of water until we came to the large cruise ship port of Civitavecchia. We did stop before then to actually go down onto a beach to touch the water but it was more of a ceremonial act than anything else. It was warm.

At 3pm, somewhere along the 60 mile drive up the coast from Civitavecchia to the town of Grosseto, we stopped off for a late lunch. Light on the stomach maybe, not not on the wallet. We'd hoped that meals would be cheaper outside of Rome but this was not the case as even a simple lasagne and a pop in a small cafe cost over 10 euros. At Grosseto we headed inland and NE on SS223 towards Siena and started looking for a place to spend the night as we wanted to be in Siena early the following morning.

By 5pm we were approaching the small mountain town of Civitella Paganico, saw a sign for the Hotel Santa Genoveffa and decided to have a look at it. As we went up the beautiful driveway, it became obvious that we had found a real gem for our first night in rural Italy.

The hotel itself was stunning and although I'll include a few photos here, mine do not do it justice and you'd be better off looking at the ones on their web site, especially the aerial view which shows it best. It overlooked rolling vineyards that crossed a slight valley towards the town and we had a wonderful view of it from our bedroom window.

In front of the tastefully renovated 18th century farmhouse buildings, was a large swimming pool and after booking in and dumping our bags, we soon made use of it. I was some minutes behind Daphne and Stephen as I was taking video footage and when I reached the pool, I saw they were wearing bizarre, colourful and not very flattering caps.

Eh ? Where did they come from ?

Well it seems that they'd only been in the water a few minutes when one of the staff came out with the caps and asked them to wear them. Hotel rules. To save time, I went to reception to get mine and although we joined others in the pool who were also wearing the caps AND were playing with a ball, there was no offer of having an international game of water polo. Shame.

Like most of the converted farms/villas we were fortunate enough to stay at on our travels, this one was set among vineyards with extensive grounds. At the side of the hotel, one large garden area was set aside for archery and guests could have a go at no extra charge. Sadly we didn't have time to try this out as we needed to get off into town for supper.

As we walked to the car parking area to the left of the house, we had wonderful views across the vineyards and we just knew that we'd already fallen in love with Tuscany.

Our evening meal wasn't anything to write home about, or indeed write a blog post about, so I'll pass quickly over it. We ate at 8:30pm which set the tone and became the norm for the rest of the trip. Italians eat late and eat slowly. All that arm waving takes time !

We returned to the hotel and with little else to do anyway, we made our plans for our visit to Siena in the morning and turned in early.

And what a memorable day we had to come............


Daphne said...

Lovely post, great photos and it was a stunning introduction to Tuscany, as you say. The owners were very friendly too. Thank you for taking me back there on a chilly autumn day!

Yorkshire Pudding said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yorkshire Pudding said...

Frankly, I am most disappointed that you didn't post a photo of yourself wearing one of these fetching swimming caps! Was yours also red? Do all hotel guests in Italy have nits or is it the Brylcreem that creates the worry?

Silverback said...

YP, I believe there is such a photo in existence (oh thank you Daffy) but like the one of the grassy knoll gunman, I've not seen it.

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