Under the Tuscan Sun

Trip Start Apr 14, 2009
Trip End Aug 06, 2009

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Busabout came along at 8am to snatch us from Rome and drop us off most of the way to our next destination.  We stopped off in a little town called Orvieto for a couple of hours, which required another funicular ride, nice hillside views and a pretty cool church.  Then we continued on our way to Siena, where the "fun" began.

Siena is where we decided to make our own way to Tavarnelle, a small regional town in Tuscany.  After arriving at the wrong transport station and scaring ourselves into thinking we were trapped in Siena without accommodation, after sandwiches and a beer we found that we could get to Tavarnelle, it would just take 2 buses and about 4 hours of waiting around.  Haha oh well.

It was worth it.  Staying in a regional town meant we could relax and unwind for a few nights.  Tavarnelle is in Italy's Chianti region, most famous for its wine.  And that night we had the best damn wine we've ever had.  In the main square we took a punt on a small restaurant with a handwritten menu out the front and one 60 year old man serving who couldn't speak English.  Our meals were fantastic, the wine was nice.  Then we ordered dessert.  Tirimasu and chocolate souffle.  Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww yeah.  Then because we ordered dessert, and probably because we were the only ones in the restaurant, he bought us a nice little nightcap glass of the house dolce wine.  THE BEST EVER.  It was similar to a fortified wine like Muscat or Port, but was just a sweet, gorgeous red wine.
We went back the next night to purchase a bottle of the stuff, but they only used it in house and didn't have bottles.  the ladies were kind enough to pour their stash into a water bottle and still gave it to us!  Went down very nicely with our Viennetta the next night.

Anyway, apart from this, the next two days in Chianti were spent riding mountain bikes.  Yes.  Through the green valleys and up the bloody hills.  So many hills.  Oh man.  We were sore, Alicia has taken her leg bruises to France with her, but we had beautiful views, saw a couple of nice towns, and really enjoyed riding through the region even if it was hard work.

This takes us to June 22.  Chris' birthday.  Spent the first hour with Keanu Reeves driving our bus to Florence as if a bomb was triggered to the speedo.  Then spent the day wandering through Florence deciding it was our favourite place in Italy.  Quaint like Venice, yet a city kind of like Rome, but friendly, easy and manageable.  There were massive market stalls that we splurged a bit on.  The Duomo is massive and a great sight to see.  After dinner at the hostel, we hit the red wine.  Met a couple of Adelaide girls and through the night with them developed a posse of American, Canadian and South African friends to have a great night with.  One of these people was evil, and had a bottle of Grappa.  Chris was silly enough to have a shot of said evil drink, and by 11:30 Alicia kindly put him to bed.  She continued dancing till about 3am!  Fun had by all.

The next day, as tired or seedy as anyone may have been, we woke early to queue up to enter the Academia Gallery, home of Michelangelo's David.  After 2 hours waiting, we saw it.  Yeah, it was alright I guess.  Until you walk around it we realised we never knew what his butt looked like, or took notice that he was standing in front of a stump.  He has massive hands too.

Walked through Florence again after a picnic lunch, climbed a hill for some great views, then joined a Busabout planned dinner.  4 courses which were pretty darn good, some good company courtesy of some fellow Kiwi and English travellers, followed by more karaoke!
This venue had 3.5 litre beer "Towers" on offer that we shared with the two English girls.  Great stuff.  Then Chris got on stage to perform "What Is Love", much to the delight of the screaming, rampant Contiki tour group that shared the venue.

Tomorrow up early again to head to Nice via Pisa.  Arriverdeci Italy, you have been brilliant.
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