Monday, September 3, 2012

Adventures (and Lessons) in Tuscany

As usual, I haven't been able to keep this blog current, there's just never enough time, and when we wake up, we pretty much hit the ground running and eat breakfast and start our day. With this in mind, I'm going to summarize Tuscany and move on from there. I don't know what else to do.

First off, Tuscany was beautiful, we really enjoyed it there. It helps that our hotel/villa (Tenuto Santo Pietro) was amazing. The service was excellent, they had a pool, the grounds were stellar with fabulous orchards (olives, grapes, figs, apples, pears, almonds) that we could walk through, and best of all (in my opinion) was that it was centrally located so that we could make easy day trips to the small hill towns in the area. My personal favorite was Siena, Italy. Now I just learned all this, but Siena was apparently in competition with Florence to be the center of Renaissance, with Florence eventually winning out. However, Florence became a big metropolis, and Siena remained a beautiful medieval town high up on a hill, complete with narrow cobblestone streets that are perfect for walking. It is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it also has great restaurants, all sorts of shops, and of course, fabulous and historic cathedrals, churches, and museums, the kind the kids just love.

Either way, we went to Siena on our second day in Tuscany, and though it was a bit of a trek, it was well worth it. The city is old and picturesque, and I overheard that it has half the real estate, it has twice the historically relevant artifacts. Whatever be the case, I thought it was more interesting and manageable than Florence. Plus, we had our beautiful Tuscan villa to return to. We wandered throughout the city, hanging out in the Piazzas and having lunch in the cafes. We had heard of several restaurants within the city walls and couldn’t find any of them, and then, while we were searching for the best gelato, we just happened upon the one restaurant that we wanted to eat at the most, called Zest. How cool is that? It scored a high ranking on TripAdvisor.

We had an awesome day in Siena. On our third day, we tried walking to the town of Montepulciano, but have to give up, but not before walking about 3 miles, one way. The kids were incensed, and we almost had a mutiny on our hands. We trekked back to the villa for a swim, and then after a rest, we drove out to Pienza, another medieval town, for a wonderful supper followed by killer gelato.

Our last day, we checked out and drove out to Montepulciano, where we stopped for lunch, and then headed out of Tuscany for Umbria and the east coast of Italy. The drive over was a bit long, but we got to see a lot of the interior of the country, and again, got to stop and visit some more small medieval towns, including Gubbio, which was really cool. Apparently it escaped destruction from WWII and is one of the most well-preserved medieval town in Italy. It was really cool.

We are now in Saltara, which is not nearly as nice as Tuscany, but still quaint. We are staying here for a couple of days before we have to catch a ferry across the Adriatic to Croatia. This should be interesting.

Until then, thanks for reading.

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