Travels to Italy: Part 2

The main duration of our time in Italy is staying at a little farmhouse renovated for guests about 45 minutes outside of Florence. We had chosen not to include a GPS unit in our Avis rental car figuring that:

* at US$15.50 a day x 10 days that money could be better spent on more wine

* we had every intention of just getting lost in Italy.

Granted, there were a handful of times in the last couple days it would have come in handy. As an American I was used to well marked highways with signage that is both plentiful and that usually give you adequate time to make necessary lane changes. In Italy…not so much! But we eventually made it to “Borga Isadora” which is a beautiful restored 19th century farmhouse. The grounds are just what you would come to expect in your most romantic notions of Tuscany. It was so beautiful that tears came to Tammy’s eyes as Maria, the owner, gave us a tour of our new home for the week. Our first night in Tuscany was a homemade pasta meal with chicken, bread, olive oil, and wine! Bueno!

On Friday, we got up bright and early (actually because of jet lag) for our first excursion into Florence. Yes, I actually drove into Florence white knuckles and all. Crazy roundabouts, meandering streets, and scooters swarming around like angry hornets…but we made it.

Florence is everything you might imagine it to be. It seems to radiate culture and class from its very core. Every turn seems to lead to something interesting whether it is an old church, home, museum, shop, or cafe.

Our day seemed to be filled with eating pizza, drinking coffee, and admiring some of the most famous pieces of art in human history. For me though the most inspiring moment was standing before Michelangelo’s “David”. I know I should be snobbish and gawk over some other more obscure piece that you had never heard of…but I can’t. From the minute you walk into the gallery Academia and make your first turn you are confronted with Michelangelo’s most famous work. Standing 17 fet tall, the sculpture of the shepherd boy who would be king confronting the unseen Goliath seems to capture art in its purest form.

We followed up Florance the next day with trips to the medieval cities of San Gimignano and Volterra. Both are towns caught in a time warp that somehow look like Disney’s Fantasyland without the rides. Walled cities on a hill top with battle towers and fortresses hide quaint little shops and cafes that command beautiful views overlooking the hills of Tuscany. We ate at a beautiful restaurant that served us wild boar with goat cheese as an appetizer.

At night the streets of Volterra became downright eerie and took on a backdrop right out of an Anne Rice novel. These are most certainly the alleyways the vampire Lestant would prowl at night. The feeling was heightened when we toured the Palace Vitti which was (is) an elegant aristocratic manor with paintings on the walls with ancient family members that looked like…well vampires. Then at the end of the tour we got to go down to the crypt to have a glass of wine…well, the picture says it all.

In actuality, the Vitti family still own the palace and Senora Vitti herself made us feel very welcome. It was a wonderful experience.

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  • Oh my gosh, Steve, you’re where I was a year ago. Have a great time.

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