Italy: Modernity Meets Old World

The next morning I was up early again, donned a flaming yellow Caribbean sundress, had my breakfast and started on my walk to Santa Maria Novella station to meet up with the rest of my tour group for our day in the Tuscan countryside. I usually like doing at least one organised your on my trips, as it allows me to meet other travellers and see far flung areas that had you organised to see yourself, would take a lot of coordination and research. This particular tour was going to take us out of Florence and into Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa, and nothing beats the airconditioned tour bus.

My seatmate was an Indian-American, whose parents migrated from India to facilitate the dad's doctoral studies. Our tour guide, Sandra was very very pleasant and very knowledgeable and our driver, Billy. We left Florence at 8.30 and our first stop was to be Siena.

What a beautiful city.

Sandra told us the city was built on the hills and I thought to myself "Oh God! Another day of walking up hills in this heat!" I started planning how I could get one of the big men on the bus to give me a piggy back ride up the hill, when Sandra told us there were actually escalators to take us up to the city. What a progessive people!!! There were, I think, 5 "flights" of escalators which took us straight to the city, where we put on our whistles and headphones so we could hear everything our tourguide had to say. Our Siena tourguide, and I cannot recall her name now, led us through the city, with its narrow streets and beautiful old world architecture, telling us all about the city and its traditions, including the Palio di Siena, an annual horse race which is unique to Siena. The race takes place in the Piazza del Campo, the beautiful square in the middle of it all.

Our official tour ended at the Duomo di Siena, where we got to tour in the church and learn about its history. This was a much needed respite from the mind frying heat outside. Nah man...I am from a tropical country eh, but this was no jokey heat, dread. I was dying.

We had private time to explore more of the city on our own, during which time I struck up conversations with some American and Aussie ladies also on the tour - sisters in melt, because we were just all wilting under the Tuscan sun.

Our next stop was to be lunch at a farmhouse near San Gimignano, where we first got to tour the property, from its vineyards and olive groves to its wine cellars and cow shed. The cow shed part I was not feeling so that was a short session for me, but the wine cellars, and the exotic smell wafting from the dozens of barrels and storage containers were heaven.

Lunch was superb. It was lilke a huge Italian family meal, with tables set up on the terrace overlooking the vineyard - gorgeous gorgeous view. We were served pasta (of course), along with pecorino and proscuitto and insalate  with everything made right there at the farmhouse, except I think the proscuitto. Of course the best part was the sampling of the vineyard's wines, and we had a 5 wine line up, from a very lovely young white to a very sweet dessert wine, which we dipped our biscotti in while digesting an absolutely splendid meal. I had a lot of the white and was really toasty after that. And happy. Happpppppy.

Thank you Ryanair for being so lame with the luggage fees and restrictions that I could not buy bottles of wine to take back with me. I only have fleeting memories of the taste, so thanks eh. You rock!

We headed to the walled city of San Gimignano after lunch, another hour or so away so after food and wine, it was no surprise that there was some serious snoozing on the way up. My seatmate was knocked out and was giving me a little snoring concert as well, but it was okay. I was too tired and fattened to care.

1 comment:

  1. Oooh, how gorgeous, I think I went there in Tuscany, I love those walled cities, just gorgeous.

    Lucky girl Toots! xox


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