Tuscany 2019-Day 8

January27

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On our final morning at the Air BnB  we assembled our recycling -it looks like eating and drinking might have occurred the week we spent in Tuscany!

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Matteo the Air BnB owner gifted us with his mother’s cakes all that week. My favourite was the treat we received on that last morning. He called it angel bread perhaps because it was so heavenly! Hunks pulled off included the sweet taste of raisins and just the right amount of cinnamon. During the course of the day and into the evening that loaf was very much appreciated but I am getting ahead of myself.

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We pulled out of the driveway for the final time that morning. I was both happy and sad. Sad that it was over but so very happy that it happened in the first place.

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We decided on a quick stop at Lucca en route to Milan. We ended up taking a circuitous route when we decided to select the route with no tolls. All that could be done was to sit back and enjoy the view.

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We loved Lucca when we had made the same plans on our last sojourn to Tuscany. Unfortunately, we spent longer in the town than we wanted (when we couldn’t find our car) so were certain to not let that occur again.

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Our destination was the town square on both days (except that the “square” is actually an oval!).

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Our lunch was pretty mediocre; such a disappointment on our last day in Tuscany. But the beer was cold and the last aperol spritzer a delight! And I remember thinking to myself: even a mediocre lunch in Tuscany is still on a beautiful square under a shady umbrella and so I was more than content.

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This time we easily found our parking spot!

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I was able to do a wee bit of shopping for my sisters at a place I visited 4 years prior. The gorgeous woman who only spoke Italian (and me doing a pitiful job of trying) got along as famously as we had previously! I was so glad it was my last memory of the part of the world that I truly love as the next thing you know we were back on the autostrada heading for Milan.

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We did get to see this last twilight sky as we made our final approach to Milan.

D1 and J3 dropped us ladies off at the hotel and took the rent a car back. We took our bags upstairs and then went straight down to the hotel restaurant to have a glass of wine and wait for them. We ended up ordering another mediocre meal before we caught sight of them (but at least we had snacked on angel bread all that day). It was a lacklustre end to a glorious trip.

Kath’s quote: “The most beautiful moments always seemed to accelerate and slip beyond one’s grasp just when you want to hold onto them for as long as possible.” ― E.A. Bucchianeri

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuscany 2019-Day 7 Part 2

January23

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With the exception of the beginning of our stay, D and I slept every night with the window open under the eves of our Air BnB loft. I had intended to wake up every morning to watch the sunrise but only managed to sit up in bed to get this one.

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After spending a glorious morning in Sal Galgana, we ventured out to explore a vineyard that was in the Chianti region but not far from us in Siena.

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We had booked a private tasting at The Tolaini Vineyard owned by a gentlemen from our home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

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But 1st we had a lovely long look at the vineyard and the bowl-shaped valley.

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The clever selection of a bowl shape meant for almost day long sunshine and the perfect amount of irrigation.

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We learned as we sat down in this beautiful cellar and tasting room, that Mr. Tolaini upon retiring from the company he built from scratch in Winnipeg, wanted to grow the finest French grapes in his home country of Italy.

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The fare which was conducive to the tasting was perfection in itself. Our guide Andrea was so passionate about the Tolaini wines and the chianti region where the grapes were grown. We could have listened to her for hours. She answered every question we had with much thought and great insight.

And those wines were perfection! I am not inclined towards Sangiovese wines leaning more to Merlots from France, Chile and even Canada!

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We bought three bottles of Tolaini wine that afternoon but just had to open one of them that very day to go with our left over pizza and pasta from the house as our time was drawing to a close. We gave one of the bottles as a Christmas gift to our son and still have one bottle to drink for a future special occasion.

Kath’s quote: “Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age.”-Pope John XXIII

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Love never fails.

 

 

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Tuscany 2019-Day 7

January21

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D and I headed out one morning to San Galgona that wasn’t too far from Sienna. After a drive that whirled and swerved through the cypresses and all around, we arrived at what we learned was the first Gothic church in Italy.

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Now roofless it still stood with majestic beauty.

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We enjoyed our look around and we were almost completely alone.

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We learned a little about the residents of the area-for them life was “no picnic” lol.

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We soaked up the sights of the secluded area, experiencing another piece of Tuscany that was brand new to us.

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We  saw a marked path to hike up a neighbouring hill for another experience. Unfortunately with my bad knee I knew that I would not be able to make the trek but I encouraged D to. He suggested we walk back to the car and just have another look at the access of the area.

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Sure enough, at the top of the hill over a very rough road stood this amazing chapel.

While parking we met two lovely Italian women, they asked where we were from and said they had spoken about travellers from Canada the previously evening: “Canadians are so inviting without any walls”. They encouraged us to go inside because the chapel was physically beautiful but spiritually beautiful as well. The women were so lovely, that we chatted and laughed until a priest came out of the chapel and hushed us because we were disrupting the solitude of the hilltop. We kissed the women Italian style and wished them well. Then we entered the beautiful space.

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The sanctuary was lit with candles and natural light and we knew we had discovered a place that was unlike any church we had seen in Italy. The exquisite simplicity made it an experience I will not soon forget.

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This was looking up at its round roof.

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In the middle of the room was a acrylic covering over the ground. Under the glass there was a sword stuck into a large stone. This is what we learned:

the actual Sword in the Stone is located in Siena, Italy, believed to have belonged to Saint Galgano. Legend has it the Archangel Michael ask Galgano to give up all his possessions which he argued would be harder than splitting a stone. to prove his point, Galgano struck a rock with his sword which cut through with ease, leaving only the hilt and a few inches of blade exposed. The Sword in the Stone is still in case to this day inside the Montesiepi Chapel. While it’s impossible to authenticate the sword’s legendary history, recent scientists have verified that analysis of the metal dates back to the 12th century, consistent with the timeline of Galgano.

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The current keeper of the stone and the chapel lived in the small space attached to the chapel. He is the priest that shushed our exuberance in the parking lot.

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We made the drive back to Sienna more slowly, appreciating that we had just witnessed something quite sensational. Life is full of wonderful surprizes.

Kath’s quote: “I did stories about unexpected encounters, back roads, small towns and ordinary folk, sometimes doing something a little extraordinary.”-

Charles Kuralt

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Love never fails.

 

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Tusany 2019-Dinner at Ristorante Acqua Borra

January20

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We were so in love with the extensive patio at our villa outside of Sienna that as I have already said, it was very difficult to inspire us out for dinner. The other reason why it was difficult to move us was because we got pretty darned good and assembling our own charcuterie.

But after a whole lot of deliberation, we found ourselves at Ristorante Acqua Borra which through the help of Google, I understand was once a thermal park.

The magnificent walls of the building had been beautifully restored and we were comfortably set near a large window. If it had been day time, we were quite sure that we could have seen our villa from there.

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D ordered a scrumptious Vino Nobile to acknowledge a birthday that we had missed marking together at home. We hoped it would celebrate how very special person was to us and our delightful time together.

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D and J3 shared a Florentine Steak that we had heard so much about back home. It was 2 1/2 fingers deep and arrived already sliced.

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D2 was still on her quest for the perfect Carbonara,

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As unusual as this dish looks, it was pretty good-marinated pork filet with caramelized onions and pear soaked in wine. It could have received higher marks in my book if the sauce had not been quite so salty (and I typically love salt)!

Deciding against dessert we made the short way home where rumours were floating around about a hot tub being fired up.

Kath’s quote: “You and me, we are more than friends. We are like a small travel gang!”-Unknown

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

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Tuscany 2019-Day 6

January17

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This was our view walking from the parkade into the old city of Sienna for another visit

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and more quaint shots along the way to the Duomo.

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There were times when I was speechless with the exquisite beauty everywhere you went.

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Even the views of the shops were beautiful.

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I had learned on a previous visit that the zebra stripes of the cathedral were actually layers of white and green marble.

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Of course 2 dimensional photos like this, don’t come anywhere near the magnitude of the structure.

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Da Vinci was only one of many sculptors commissioned to adorn the space.

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These angels were a couple of my favourites.

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At one point I climbed the stairs that provided this beautiful view of the city.

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There has been a newly excavated section (in 1998) that we didn’t know about when we were there previously. The discoveries were amazing.

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The ceiling of the library.

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The most exquisite gallery shop I have ever seen.

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We reconvened for lunch and in spite of some rain, sat under the enormous umbrellas at the restaurant called “Il Fontino”.

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I can close my eyes and recall the taste of the succulent lasagna-heavy with cheese.

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A flat of plants at a little grocery store en route to the parkade.

Sienna I will always remember you.

Kath’s quote: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” ― St. Catherine of Siena  

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Love never fails.

 

 

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