Tuscany 2019-Day 5

January14

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This ancient fountain in Sienna became a reminder for us of where we had come and where we were going.

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I have an injured knee so I was fine to walk, but really tried to avoid backtracking our steps and going an alternate way. Even with 2 guys using GPS, old Sienna is confusing to navigate.

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But we finally made it to our destination of the square.

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We had seen a number of people that morning with crowns of laurel leaves, taking pictures in the square. Sienna has a large university community and it was graduation day!

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We strolled around the periphery of the square seeking… lunch (what else)?

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We seated ourselves on Il Fantino’s patio

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but I caught a look inside (for future reference).

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Our lunch was a hit (as they all seemed to be) but except for the fact that D2 had the Capresse Salad I can’t for the life of me remember who had what and uncharacteristically, I didn’t write it down. This is what happens when old people write blogs.

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We spent more time in the vicinity of the square, where I came upon this exquisite turquoise onyx horse. I remembered what really made the Campo del Plaza special-twice a year, the square is the scene of the world’s most famous, if not most ancient horse race: Il Palio.

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We made our way to the Duomo, the most splendid cathedral I have ever visited. We decided thought that we did not have enough time in the day to really soak up its splendour, so we made arrangements to return the next day.

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D2 and I, arm in arm, finished our wander, soaking up the antiquity of the city. Knowing we were to spend the next day in the Cathedral, I think we did some shopping…oh yes WE DID DO SOME SHOPPING!

I purchased a beautiful leather bag and a piece of costume jewelry. I use at least one of them daily and love them as a reminder of that wonderful day.

Kath’s quote: “Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”
– Muhammad Ali

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuscany 2019-Day 4

January7

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On this day we decided to drive into Sienna’s train station and take the train to Florence. D and I remembered Italian train service as a pleasant way to travel. With these 2 handsome guys as our escorts, we  were in good hands.

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Our first order of business was finding a place to have lunch. D and I loved Giovani’s when we visited 4 years ago and the their pasta was just as memorable. It’s location right on the square in front of the Duomo was superb.

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Directly in the foreground is the baptistery which was covered in scaffolding when we visited last. The combination of the buildings and the square itself is stunning and is one of the most visited places in all of Europe.

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When D and I had visited Florence previously we missed seeing Michelangelo’s David at the Academie Gallery.

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Florence Angel

Other less famous pieces were still breathtaking.

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And here was the “perfect man” himself. I had seen David when I was in my early twenties and visiting Europe for my first time. I could truly say that I didn’t appreciate the masterpiece the way I did on this visit.

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Strolling back to the Duomo, we enjoyed the sun from a different angle of the cathedral.

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Waiting in line to enter the Duomo, gave us an up close opportunity to admire the magnificent façade.

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As splendid as the façade was, I was kind of underwhelmed by the interior.  The Duomo back in Sienna was far more splendid in my opinion.

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While we were in the cathedral, the sun had sunk even further.

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Just steps away, you could hire a carriage ride. The ancient and present day advertising struck me with its stark contrast.

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We reconvened at Giovani’s again for a favourite Italian cocktail-apero spritzes. We made our way back to the train station and got onto a packed train. As we got closer and close to Sienna though the crowds thinned out.

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The evening was another gorgeous one and we ordered salad and pizza to enjoy on our terrace.

Kath’s quote: “Sharing adventures means enjoying them 100% more.”-author unknown

jamcookieheart

Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuscany 2019 -Day 3 Part 2

December30

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My impression of Pienza was an accessible place with inhabitants who loved the beauty which surrounded them and their own quests to make it even more so.

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Flowers had been planted everywhere and inspired me to do the same next spring.

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The retail stores were small and quaint with aromas of lavender or pungent cheeses depending upon where you stopped.

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One of the reasons I longed to visit Pienza was because I knew that it had been one of the locations for the filming of Zeferelli’s Romeo and Juliet-one of my all time favourite movies. I scoured the sites for places familiar to me. No, these were selected for the balcony scene…..

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But Tybalt did die in this square.

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I did discover that this courtyard which posed as the one of the Capulet’s home.

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I also stumbled upon this lovely church where I spent a few moments in prayer.

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We stopped for a refreshing espresso as we made plans for the rest of the afternoon.

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Soon though the arched doorways and gates

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took us back to the village wall and our vehicle.

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We were in the vicinity of Montepulciano so we stopped for a brief look on our way home. I stayed with the car as my knee prevented me from making another vertical climb.

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Upon our arrival back at the Air BnB in Sienna, we were greeted by the most exquisite sunset.

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D and I got going in the kitchen and we made a delectable pasta and salad.

Our first touring day was a perfect one and we were filled with gratitude for the privilege of travel.

Kath’s quote: “You can pack for every occasion, but a good friend will always be the best thing you could bring!” -unknown

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuscany 2019 Trip Report-Day 3

December6

When D and I were in Tuscany in 2015, I missed what I had dreamed most about. Staying in Montecatini and really being uncertain of the geography of the region, we missed out on the Val D’orcia, which I now know is my favourite part (I might say the heart) of Tuscany. This piece of advice had been given to my by my friend Linda-The Tuscan Muse but of course you never know until you experience something for yourself.

D was kind enough to suggest Pienza for our first day of touring. The breathtaking drive was over hilly and windy roads with breathtaking  scenery.

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When we arrived, the parking spot for our car was just a few steps from the edge of the town.

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The vantage point of the valley from the wall was my re-occurring dream of Tuscany. I was finally there!

The day was a hot one: 25 degrees (October 20th) and as lovely as standing in the sun overlooking the valley was, we needed shade and a cold one!

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Someone spotted Ristorante el Prato (Garden Restaurant) and it looked like the perfect place to stop.

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The beer was frosty cold and the food fabulous.

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We knew that “pici” was the designated pasta of the region. The mouth feel was somewhere in between spaghetti and macaroni. I personally prefer spaghetti or even spaghettini, but when in Rome… This Pici was Ragu Toscano.

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and this pici “All Aglione” with tomatoes and garlic.

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This must have been the special that day as I couldn’t find it on the menu that photographed that day. It too was glorious.

I was in the mood for veggies and ordered two starters as my lunch.

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This Veddue di Stagione (Seasonal Vegetables) and

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Zucchinotte a Carpaccio crude con Agreste Ricotta (Zucchini Carpaccio with Rustic Ricotta). I scooped up little potions of both with their delectable bread and was in heaven!

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I spied the inside of the bar on my way to the WC,

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and these interiors of the restaurant used when the weather wasn’t quite so fair.

After being refreshed in all ways, we took a stroll around town. Stay Tuned.

Kath’s quote: “I’m in love with places I’ve never been to.” -Authour Unknown

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

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Tuscany 2019 Trip Report-Day 2

November26

D and I were both so excited to wake up and explore our surroundings.

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This was the portion of the villa that was not the pig barn.

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This was one set of two gates to the Air BnB property. The other set was electronically opened with a fob. We felt very safe indeed.

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This first look at our view, took my breath away.

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The village we could see from our terrace was Arbia.

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It was so lovely that the trees hadn’t yet lost their leaves like back home.

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Morning shadows fell upon the horses’ pasture next door.

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Later that morning we got a better view of the horses.

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Our first order of business was D figuring out how the espresso maker worked. Once that was accomplished we drove the short distance to the edge of Sienna for supplies. We purchased the essentials like biscotti, croissants, fruit, cheese, yoghurt AND most importantly red wine from a wine station where you fill a plastic jug and paid 1.23 Euros per litre!

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Everyone was fatigued that day so we lazed around in the mild temperatures in the beautiful garden of our villa (and polished off the wine)!

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D2 and J3 had the front loft of the villa and their windows faced west.

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We took the east facing loft and I think that I got a sunrise picture one morning. But I am getting ahead of myself.

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If you went down these stairs you would enter the villa through the kitchen and open living space.

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 If you went up there was another entrance to the rest of the villa through a bedroom where we had unpacked our stuff.

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Our only tentative plan that day was to head into Sienna for a late afternoon church service. But as we were mesmerized by our view and we chatted,

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we came to the consensus that if we skipped church (we didn’t really know where to go anyway), we could eat charcuterie and fire up the pizza oven for supper. Guess what option won?

So D and J3 went back into Siena to get pizza fixings, salad greens, something for dessert and…more wine!

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Before we knew it, it was dark.

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The guys did a great job of getting the outdoor oven fired up. Pizzas were made with toppings like proscuitto, artichokes, olives and anchovies. The latter was not appreciated by the group and we understood why people ordering pizzas declare: “and hold the anchovies!”

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This was D making sure I ate all my vegetables.

At some point in the evening Limoncello shooters were tossed back. Were we being childish or extravagant or silly? Perhaps a bit of all three, but in our minds we were celebrating our lives, our friendship and the blessing of travel. It was a perfect day.

Kath’s quote: “Friends that travel together, stay together.”-Author Unknown

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Love never fails.

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