Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 4 From Carmuccia to Siena...

Day 4 - Monday, July 6, 2009

We set the GPS to avoid toll roads and travelled on side roads from Carmuccia to Montalcino.
This is the hilly area south of Siena know as the “Sienese Crests”a land of incredible panoramic vistas of the Tuscan countryside.

Day 4

Rolling hills dotted with cypress trees and topped with medieval towns.  Olive groves and rustic farmhouses...the classic Tuscan countryside...a photographers dream.  There weren’t many vineyards in this area.  When we started out, the weather was dreary with thick fog.  As we wound our way through the countryside through San Giovanni d’Asso and Asciano the fog slowly disappeared and the sun cast its magical spell on this majestic landscape.

Day 4, San Giovanni d'Asso
Dan was repeatedly pulling off to the side of the road and saying “I think this is a picture” or waiting for the the sun to come creeping out from under a cloud: “the sun is almost out...just another minute... don’t you see it starting to come out of the clouds?" Honestly, I would look up and wonder where he was seeing the sun. It was a mystery to me. And, so we waited and after 20 minutes sometimes, it would finally reveal itself like a tidal wave of light slowly flowing along the land and as its grand finale projecting the light on the one lonely farmhouse on a hill....yes, it was beautiful and worth waiting for. The challenge is how you capture that magic in a photograph.

Day 4, near Montalcino

We enjoyed coffee and biscotti in Montalcino as well as a very whimsical parade of tourists – big umbrellas shielding them from the sun as well as very big colourful floppy hats and full length gloves of all styles – from lace, fingerless to long black elegant – and a multitude of styles and colors of running shoes to match. They were having a blast, posing for pictures and enjoying each others company.

Day 4, Montalcino
We planned on having lunch in quaint Asciano, but when we arrived, around 1:00, all restaurants were closed.  We walked around the sleepy town and decided to drive to Siena for lunch. Central Siena is off limits to traffic so we parked outside the city walls and walked to the Campo, fresh from the Palio a few days prior.  We enjoyed a leisurely lunch at one of the many restaurants, a great place to people watch. We walked around the old city, visited the Duomo, which looks like a wedding cake with its very ornate facade and spent a lot of time admiring this medieval town.

Day 4, Siena
I bought some panna forte and with tired feet, we made our way back to the car and returned to Gli Archi for dinner.  We had fresh pasta and sauce with some added spices we bought along the way.  A bottle of local Chianti accompanied our simple meal and we toasted to tomorrow’s trip to the Amalfi coast where we will spend 2 days and meet up with Francesco!


Stay tuned for Day 5!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 3 of our Tuscany Adventure - Cortona

Sunday, July 5, 2009

We decided to have a relatively easy day today without too much driving, so off to Cortona we went. We followed Rick Steves’ walking tour of Cortona and visited some shops...of course. We stopped by “Il Pozzo”, a little art gallery. It has an excavated well from the 11th century, surrounded by photography, watercolours and etchings of Tuscany. We chatted with Ivan who showed us his uncle’s exquisite photography and then bought a print of Cortona, which we will get framed when we get back home.


I’m guilty...I just couldn’t control myself ...and asked him if he was around during the filming of “Under the Tuscan Sun”. He WAS!!! And Diane Lane even bought several paintings from him...and then he kind of sort of...told us where Bramasole was located. The owners still live there and of course we weren’t going to be those tourists who shows up at their doorstep...

We returned back to Gli Archi (very close by) because the skies darkened and it was close to lunch. We watched the storm from our terrace and then returned to Cortona. We had coffees and gelatos – I had pistachio and coconut and Dan had caramel and chocolate chip. They were absolutely yummy but melted very quickly. I think this was the first time that I wasn’t the messiest while eating something...yay!!!!


I then suggested that we take a little walk up the hill...and perhaps we would check out Bramasole ...

So what if a thunderstorm was rolling towards us and lighting was shooting through the sky in the would be a nice walk...wouldn’t it? We would just walk by, as if we happened to be taking a walk in the area...It should be very close and we could just take a peek?


After walking for 45 minutes down a deserted, very beautiful path, the weather was approaching quickly and after I repeated for the 10th time...”I think it is just up ahead” Dan looked at me with furrowed eyebrows and suggested that we perhaps should turn back since it looked like it was going to start raining any second. Speed walking back, the rain pouring down (let’s not mention his expensive camera and lenses hanging off his body) I asked if he still loved me???? When he replied “We are not back to the car yet” I walked/ran even faster. Escaping the lightning, we arrived back at the car and returned home to enjoy a home cooked dinner and a crostata di frutta.

Tuscany 093

We thought about our plans for the next day and entered the cities into Higgins (our GPS).

We toasted with our “Est Est Est” white wine to tomorrow’s itinerary... Montecatino...and Siena.



Sunday, August 2, 2009

Day 2 - Arriving at Gli Archi

Saturday July 4, 2009

It’s not that we were dawdling when we heard our names being called in the Munich airport; it’s that security and immigration caused some delays. Of course, Dan being a photographer always has his equipment searched and tested regularly, but I had my new camera knapsack now and they examined that too. Well, I shouldn’t say new, as Dan cleared out an old one for me since I am now officially a multi lens owner. I felt like a little kid getting their own little piece of luggage to take with me on a trip. We did make it to the flight on time – Air Dolomiti – direct to Florence. After my luggage didn’t arrive in Florence, we picked up our car rental (in the parking lot of the Florence Airport) , drove to Lucca to kill four hours, not recommended after an overnight flight but hey...Florence airport is small easy to go in and out of...despite the extreme heat...let’s keep positive now – after all we are so happy we are in Tuscany!

I finally received my luggage (5 hours later) and we were off.

Now it was up to Higgins (our nickname for the GPS- credit to Zac for naming it) to get us to Gli Archi, near Camucia/Cortona, our home for the next week.
Winding through the roads in our little yellow Fiat Panda, we enjoyed the picturesque countryside.

The GPS was fantastic but eventually we were on roads that even “Higgins” didn’t know the names of. He continued to provide the directions just referring to turn right on “road” and left etc on “road” and believe it or not...we got there!
Gli Archi greeted us with fields of smiling Sunflowers, radiating joy, and in fact rejuvenating Dan after this very long day. We couldn’t help but smile. They seemed to be standing there like a chorus line, all the same height with the same yellow hats on - their heads facing us...welcoming us to this land of the Tuscan sun.

Emanuela checked us in to our lovely apartment with its’ modern bathroom, bedroom with a terrace, kitchen, dining room and another terrace with a table overlooking the sunflower fields. The property has bicycles available to borrow any time as well as laundry, a very nice pool and tennis courts.
We followed (raced) Emanuela to the grocery store to pick up some dinner. Gli Archi did not come with any condiments, dish soap, paper towelling, sponges etc. So if you intend to stay at this property, you might want to bring along a small amount of spices etc. or pick things up at the grocery store when you arrive.
We toasted to our first meal – our first bottle of Chianti. We had lasagne and I’m not sure exactly what else we ate, since I just pointed at things when they looked good and said “Si, per favore!”
BTW, we can’t speak Italian....


...stay tuned for Day 3!


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