Steep climb day

Trip Start Feb 05, 2010
Trip End Feb 17, 2010

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Back again. Determined never again to have so much catching up to do so a summary of today's activities have to do.

A rainy first half of the day was a blessing as it meant not feeling so guilty about having a sleep in this morning. Then updated travel blog until it was time to leave for lunch, via a supermarket first.

Graham had a real thirst for a beer and I needed to get some bubble wrap. Hoped that the supermarket would have it as it would be simpler just to grab it from a shelf rather than have to try to work out what it is called in Italian and then ask for it. I ended up buying lots of packets of baking stuff like (I think) icing sugar, cedro, baking powder or yeast, lemon and orange essence just because the packets were so attractive. I’ll put them on the pantry shelves at home to remind me of this lovely trip, and one day, with the help of my reading glasses and google translator, find out what to do with them all. But there was no bubble wrap.

Next we decided to look for lunch downtown instead of going into Cortona. It was nearly 2pm and 'all the stores were closed and shuttered’ giving the place that  closed look. Thankfully the cafes didn’t observe the siesta rule, and we ate well. I window-shopped in a cashmere jumper boutique and then we checked out the railway station for our trip into Rome on Thursday. Bought ticket, checked place to park and then dropped by the post office for the … bubble wrap. The post office looked more like one of our RTA offices, with people who had taken a ticket hours or days ago wilting in a queue.

Now I know why Italians need such long lunch breaks- to post letters. But the PO didn’t have bubble wrap- this one didn’t look anything like the average Australia Post branch with everything from DIY wills to birthday cards and…bubble wrap for sale, so we pushed on to Cortona for a history and sightseeing day.

In case you haven’t checked it out on Google earth, let me tell you that Cortona is on a hill.  A very steep hill.  So steep in fact, that there are two escalators to take you from the bottom car park to the lower gate of the city. This time we drove as far up the hill as we could and then parked. This brought us to another gate were we still had a steep slog to get to the Piazza Signorelli. Here we decided to skip the Museum and had a coffee instead. A wise move, as we reserved our strength for the even greater slog to the Chiesa di Santa Margherita, home of the remains of the patron saint of Cortona. Had I known that her remains were just lying there, above the main altar in a glass coffin, it would have put me off a very restful meditation.

Looking even further up (this place is on more of a mountain than a hill) we could see some sort of watchtower. Although it was unlikely that the views could be any better from up above, we set to and with great respect to the pilgrims who crawled up these cobbled paths on their knees, finally arrived at the foot of the Fortezza Medicea. We suspected that the lad at the desk was going to ask for an iniquitous entrance fee and therefore give us an excuse to head back down. But it was free to enter and it would have seemed rude to decline his advice to take the self guided tour which meant following the staircases, up , up , up , up and up again. Eventually we came out to the rampart that topped a defense wall. Now we had finally reached the top of the top, the view was even more spectacular, thus meaning if Ilze and Mark come to Cortona, they should make the effort to follow in our footsteps.

At least the return trip was all downhill.

On our way home Graham offered to stop at the cashmere shop so I could check out the jumpers. Nice. And expensive. 

Then seeing a newsagent, I asked in slow and deliberate English if he had wrapping paper, since my question of bubble wrap didn’t seem to make any sense whatsoever. He directed me to a nearby toy  and gift shop that looked most unlikely, but who was I to argue?  One half of the shop did have all those sorts of paper things that we see at newsagents, plus sticky tape etc, but no bubble wrap. Amongst the stacks of envelopes I spotted ones that had the bubble interior.

This was a good starting point for asking the assistant for the dreaded…bubble wrap. She spoke no English and I no Italian, but yes, she seemed to know exactly what I wanted. On a shelf behind the counter she pulled out… an envelope with no padding.

The look of disappointment on my face must have said it all. Well nearly all.

I persevered, using the sound effect of bubbles popping and then she really did know what I needed. Out to the store room, digging about in piles of boxes she found it. A roll of bubble wrap…but a whole 10 meters of it!?

No, I didn’t ask if she had anything smaller, although the thought did cross my mind.
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Steven on

Wow I'm glad you guys did all that climbing! The view is magnificent from the top - takes your breath the climb up! Did I understand that we've ditched the Merc and are going by train to Rome?????

Steven on

A question.....How do you guys rate Italian coffee?

Hubby on

Hi Steven ... Thanks for the questions, we love receiving comments. We still have the Merc, in fact, drove to Florence and back today. We are catching the train to Rome because we both enjoy train journeys, and for me to avoid the mad Roman traffic. And we've already driven 3,600 kms (although when a lot of it is at 150kph on great roads, that's not as onerous as it sounds.

The Italian coffee is as good as the French was bad. Crazy French do great food and poor coffee, not made any better by the fact that they nearly all use UHT milk. Like drinking nuclear waste. So I drank only espresso in France. In Italy, the milk is fresh and the coffee strong, so gone to macchiato. And as you'd expect, excellent gelato. Ciao.

Eldest on

What precious item drove you on such an epic search for packing materials?

deborah1212 on

It almost became incidental to the 'thrill of the chase'. There are a couple of bottles that may clang together during the flight home, but a few delicate cups and hot chocolate pot which were only wrapped in a single sheet of white paper in the Limoge shop, not nearly good enough for my liking!

Hubby on

My biggest fear is that the search has made the bubble wrap so precious, that we will now need to find some more bubble wrap to protect the one we first found.

deborah1212 on

Hubby as become so precious he may find himself wrapped tightly, and fastened with packing tape.

Steven on

too much information Deb!!!

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