Hey would you look at that… turns out I did write one more blog on a train while we were in Italy. I didn’t even remember.
June 20, 2013
Ahhh Tuscany… the peace and tranquility we so desperately needed after nearly two weeks of crazy train travel and one to two nights in each city. It was a breath of fresh air, except that air was actually quite pollinated and Andrew could not stop sneezing. It was everything you picture Tuscany to be. Green rolling hills spotted by old buildings, wine vines and olive trees. Just beautiful.
We got to our villa near Montegonzi by rental car. It was about an hour from Florence and as soon as we pulled in I was in heaven. The villa was so cute and cozy and we were welcomed by the sweetest woman Claudia who waved at us as we drove in. Our room was huge and comfortable. The garden was filled with flowers and olive trees and the only sounds to be heard were those of birds.
The first night we headed up to a shop to grab some snacks and had ourselves a proper little Italian pre-dinner picnic of cheeses, meats, bread and some fruit. Oh, and some beer and prosecco of course.
Later that night went to a really nice dinner and the whole night there was only us and one other couple dining so the service was top notch. I ordered some trofie pasta shaped like little cones. They were made with potato and it had a leek sauce. Really different but really good. Andrew tried a pasta with wild boar Ragu and was in hog heaven, pun intended. Unfortunately we were having a little too good of a time and ended up ordering two bottles of wine. Pair that with the two glasses I had a few hours before, the free glass of prosseco and the free glass of limoncello and let’s just say I wasn’t feeling flash the next day.
We still wanted to explore Tuscany so we decided to drive 45 minutes to Siena and then go for a walk from there. However about 30 gruelling Italian twist and turny road minutes in to this so called 45 minute drive, we were barely half way and my hangover had turned into car sickness. We decided to stop in Gaiole in Chianti before I puked and do a walk from there. It was beautiful. The first half was all uphill (my favourite) but the views made it all worth it. Lunch after consisted of a caprese (mozzarella and tomato) salad which looked super bland but was one of the better ones I’ve had due to the delicious oil and aged balsamic that came with it. We never got to visit Siena but after Venice, Bologna, Florence and then Tuscany- we didn’t feel a strong need to see yet another old town. We just wanted to relax for a change.
The next few days we just enjoyed the peace and quiet. We were able to visit the little resort next door and use their pool which was nice. We also had a chance to taste the olive oil and wine produced by our hosts from the grapes and olives on their land. Both were quite yum so we bought some to take home. I think I have a new appreciation for good quality olive oil after this trip. I’ve always enjoyed it but I think it wasn’t until the last few weeks that I realised the difference it can make to a plain piece of bread.
Our relaxing Tuscany weekend ended abruptly as soon as we returned to Florence to drop off the rental car. We stopped at five gas stations to try to fill up. All were closed, four had pay machines, none of which would accept our MasterCard, Amex or travel debit card. Three of them did accept cash, however they did not give change and three different machines would not accept our five euro bill that we tried to use. So we filled up with 20 rather than the 25 it needed-meaning that not only did we visit five shitty, inefficient gas stations, we also didn’t even fill it up the whole way so we’ll have to pay a fee for that. Then there was the train station where Andrew waited in line for 50 minutes to try to get a refund on a ticket only to have to exit the slow ass line because our train was about to leave. And then there is the train itself. Crowded, no order- just chaos. Smelly Italians with disgusting BO… yes, it has been a very harsh return to the “reality” of our travels.
Now we were on our way to Rome to spend six days with our friends Simona and Stefano. I wonder what the ancient city will have in store.