Brace yourself for this tangent, as we (my mother and I) are still bracing every experience of our eurotrip. We have less than a week to go until we head home to the sandy beaches of the Gold Coast, where the soft, clean sand is awaiting my coastal cravings. Until then, let’s reflect on the last couple of days while I have some time to comprehend our trip to Tuscany as we are on the train to Venice. So excited to see the canals and just maybe the huge tidal gate – o, and the gondolas.
First up, to our surprise we caught the same train from Piano Di Sorrento as Anna, Tenille and Blacky (both of Anna’s friends). It was a great surprise and made the train trip much more entertaining that’s for sure. We laughed so much and won’t try and repeat what happened. Though, once we arrived at Napoli it was a bit frantic with them trying to make the next train to Rome as they had a flight to Morocco to catch! As always, they made it with a few minutes to spare.
As for us, despite missing second-class tickets for our first preference train from Napoli to Florence, we had to wait four hours until the next train. And knowing us we seem to kill time quite easy, which we ended up chilling out in a café, shopped and while I took random photos of random things, mum read and did her daily overdose of Sudoku (she is seriously obsessed). Watching the time patiently, we were soon on the train and on our way to Florence.
Once we arrived in Florence I sussed out where our hotel was – literally two blocks from the station – from matching the screen shots to a tourist map (now pro at it). We walked up a few flights of stairs to be greeted by a cute, little Italian man (so very Italian), then showed us to our room, how to use the television and even the air con. How sweet! Once we showered we hit the town and ate at a very ‘quaint’ café to experience an incredible cheese and pear ravioli dish with salad – and wine. As we are trying our best not to consume too many carbs being in carb central, we have found it best to simply order a salad and pasta and then share both – perfecto! After dinner we walked the streets to see the monuments to be stunned by the Cathedral. I have to say, ‘holy crap’ here are it was incredible. Armed with a gelato and camera, boom, we captured the experience.
The next morning was a bit of a struggle as we are both (or really me) feeling a little blue from the consecutive late nights from the wedding celebrations. Though, after a few pokes at each other we got up, enjoyed the hotel breakfast and then hit the streets of Florence to organise a hire car and quickly see the monuments we wanted to see. With time ticking, we literally power walked up to the Piazza Michelangelo to experience the city panoramic view, scooted passed the thousands of tourists, took some photos and then back down along the river to see the other monuments to make it in time to pick up the hire car (we had to get the car before 1pm as they close for a few hours for a siesta). With the GPS speaking Italian we made it back to our hotel, parking illegally, grabbed our bags and then fixed the language on the GPS, and in no time we were soon off to Tuscany.
The drive was an experience in itself with exiting at the wrong exits, getting tickets at toll booths, then paying at the exit and then back on the right motoway lined with trees to frame the amazing views. With little fuel in our bodies we were fading away as we arrived at San Gimignano, which is a medieval town in between Florence and Sienna [whoah,I just encouraged my mum go to bar on her own for the first time to get some refreshments and she came back with a bottle of Tuscano wine. Cheers to another experience!]… anyway, we enjoyed a pasta and salad – o, how original – and then cruised through the alley ways of shops, brought some chrissey presents (an awesome one for my sister Anna), and then randomly came across a hectic line for some gelati. The signed read, world champion gelati, so it must have been good, plus the random guy behind us lining up for a second! I’ve been trying all sorts, so I had a spicy cream, ricotta blueberry and lemon, while mum had mint, passionfruit and coconut – an OMG experience in the mouth! Next was a local wine and amazing bruschetta while we watched the sun set. It was just nice to just stop, chill and pat the cute dog next to us at the wine bar (as I am now really, really, really missing Elle).
Soon enough, if we thought that was an experience, what happened next topped off the day. We made it back to the car (forgot to say that it was a really cute VW UP) and noticed the lights on, so I prayed to Mary and Grace for the car started – phew. I plugged in our hotel into the GPS and smoothly took the corners and embraced the views on the way. Then, as our hotel came up fast I missed the turn off so went further ahead until I thought it was safe enough to turn around. Though, ended up driving in a roadside trench and got stuck!! A family with a 4WD stopped and I immediately thought, yes, they will be able to tow us out with a strap – but we are in Italy and not in Australia so no strapped. So, we tried to physical lift the car out to be zapped by an electric fence. With no luck to that strategy, soon enough, the road we were stuck on turned out to be the driveway of a farm, which the farmer came to the rescue with a tractor!! All our prayers were answered, no damage to the car and literally only a stone throw away we arrived at our hotel in one piece! By booking online, you never really know what to expect, which the next tale of events took up the days’ event to the next notch….
The hotel was actually a vineyard and the hotel buildings would have been working quarters in their hay day in the 12th century – literally! So, if you were ever going to stay in Tuscany for a few days, where we ended up would be beyond your own expectations. A man the size of Hagrid from Harry Potter greeted us and asked if we were hungry as dinner had just been served – dinner?? It’s best to NOT turn down an Italian gesture and luckily we didn’t, as the night opened up again! We experienced the most amazing, fresh, homemade Italian food – so many types of vegetable dishes so I was in heaven. Not to forget the wine (locally produced of course), and then café to the next … intense vino and biscuits for desert. I was sitting at one end of the table whom most of the people didn’t know any English, and my very minimal Italian and limited app made it all very interesting. They just loved my laugh and knowing that I was Australian, every time I looked away my glass was full again. So much wine and food consumed, I soon exhausted and they out did me!
What a day…
To scoot passed the time in Tuscany we headed to Sienna the next day to look at the town and were stunned again by the cathedral and museum! Literally exhausted by the afternoon, we decided to leave and head back to the hotel. I got into the pool and did some laps and enjoyed the sunset and view between breathes and stops – while mum, yep, you guessed it did her Sudoku by the pool. We headed back into town to enjoy a lovely meal and overdid it with a tiramisu (can tick that box off) and then crashed out once we got home.
That brings us to today – which I got up early and did some laps in the pool – trying to fit in exercise when I can. We got organised and said goodbye to the many characters we met at the hotel/vine yard country house. Then off to San Gimignano again to catch the shops we missed the day before and randomly came across an ethical-ecological leather shoe shop!! So, we are now sporting some incredible Italian sandals and heels (thanks mum!). Next was the bag shop for mum and belts for the men at home, and I scored some cool new shades – so very Italian of me! We had to experience another world-class gelato and mixed up the flavours to be wowed again to silence…
Greve in Chianti was our next destination, a quaint town in the middle of the Tuscano wine country. The drive into town was the experience we had planned, with incredible turns, hills and vistas! If only I was driving my bug or even better a motorbike… we shared a complete Tuscany experience!
That brings us to racing back to Florence, driving around the city in the heat of chaos to drop the car back and then trek to the train station with our now extra bags!! Weight training as definitely paid off big time! Poor mum kept up to me, then dumped our bags once we got there and I ran off to organise our tickets with 10minutes to spare! Perfecto once again!
Now while I have tangenting away, the sun is setting on the right while storm clouds are brewing on the left and the bottle of wine has now disappeared. Time to relax with nothing to do, as we should arrive in Venice in the next 30minutes. Can’t wait!