“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

TravelHaven Journal: Italy 2013 – Tuscany

Saturday was a travel day. We were picked up by our driver, Giuseppe, at 11:00 and taken to pick up our rental cars at the airport so we could start our Tuscan journey. Who knew it would take us two hours to get our cars?  But finally it was off to Tuscany. 

The two-and-a-half hour drive takes us through beautiful countryside and along the way, we passed some of the cities I want to visit – Orvieto, Montepulciano, Corona, etc.  They looked beautiful from a distance, the countryside everything I had hoped it would be. I absolutely love it!  

 

on the way to our villa

We met Rosado, the key holder for the villa, at a little bar just outside of Monterchi and he led us to our villa. It’s a good thing, because we never would have found it on our own. The description online said it was 5.5 km from Monterchi. It didn’t say those 5.5 km were almost straight up and on a road that for the last mile or so was unpaved!  We wound around and twisted up the side of the hill and I thought we would never get there. When we finally did, we felt like we had arrived at a castle!  It was spectacular!

from the gate of our villa

After Rosado gave us the grand tour, the Fullers set off for the grocery store, which was due to close in 20 minutes. When they got there, the owners were closing and had already turned the lights off. But they turned the lights back on and let them shop!  So nice! 

They came home with plenty for dinner and breakfast. They also learned that it’s not easy to shop in a foreign language. The only goof was their purchase of what they thought was butter, since it was in small packets like you get in a restaurant.  We now have about 20 packets of pizza yeast instead of butter!  Guess we will be making lots of pizza! After Chef Michael (Fuller) fixed a great dinner, it was time for a bath and bed for me. Can’t wait to explore tomorrow!

Up early Sunday morning, the light streaming in the window at 5:30. I laid there for about an hour and then decided it was time to get my day started. Everyone else was still asleep, so wonderfully quiet and serene, just the birds singing and the brilliant sunshine. The predicted temperature was 70 Fahrenheit, but the early morning was about twenty degrees cooler. Perfect weather for me!

There is a market in Monterchi on Sunday mornings so we went to that and looked at the clothes, vegetables, cheeses, meats, and household goods. It is obviously a gathering place for the locals to visit and talk about their week. And we had our first (but not our last!) porchetta (roasted pork) sandwich. What a treat!  We all loved it!

market day in Monterchi


After the market, Arn and I went into Arezzo (about an hour away) to scope out where the train station is in preparation for our train trip to Florence on Tuesday. There was a huge yard sale of some sort going on. It didn’t seem like a market, because it was all used stuff–clothes, shoes, toys, etc.  It started to pour while we were browsing, so we ducked into a cafe and had a glass of wine until it stopped.  Then we continued checking out the sale tables, but didn’t see much good stuff. When Arn can go through over a hundred tables in less than an hour, you know the pickings were slim!  We left Arezzo and went back home and just relaxed. Nice day.

cafe in Arezzo

It was another beautiful day on Monday and we went to Pisa, about two hours from the villa. We all piled into the larger of our two cars (a boxy Nissan with 6 seats) for a road trip. The drives in Tuscany are so beautiful–wonderful rolling hills dotted with terra cotta villas and occasional livestock. It is just as beautiful as I pictured it, maybe more so. 

I had been to Pisa before and, quite frankly, was underwhelmed then so I really tried to discourage my granddaughters from going, figuring it really wasn’t worth the drive. Of course, they loved it. Thought it was so cool. Took a ton of pictures. Shows how much I know!

After the pictures were taken, we set off to find a beach so everyone could stick their toe in the Mediterranean. We finally found a public beach in Tirrenia, just south of Livorno.  Hardly anyone was there (it’s not season yet) and the water was freezing, but the sun was nice and warm (warm enough that I got sunburned!) and it was glorious relaxing by the sea.

We plan to see Florence on Tuesday.