Sunsoaked Tuscany

Trip Start Aug 17, 2012
Trip End Sep 13, 2012

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We are now in Tuscany, enjoying the sun and winding down our trip.  As I sit here, I am trying to find a little English on TV.  Depending on where we are, that can be difficult. I've settled on MTV, although it's not my first choice, I can still understand it.  It really is amazing though how much you can begin to understand just by being immersed into a culture.  However, MTV is what feels most familiar right now.  Jonathan and I have rented a car here for our Tuscan adventure, and just driving that rented car has been adventure all of its own. It's also a manual, and with it having been a long time for each of us since we have shifted gears, we tend to forget upon starting the car and usually lurch forward a few feet.  Let me tell you... renting a car in a foreign country either strengthens or challenges a marriage.  We have learned to work together, however; pilot and co-pilot.  Getting the car was easy, returning it, well, that's a different story.  I'll get to that later. 

Of course I have seen the movie, "Under The Tuscan Sun" and fell in love with it.  So, I guess it is cliche to go see the house where the author lives and to be attracted to a region simply because of a movie, but it's true. Tuscany has far exceeded any expectations that I had.  I particularly like looking past people, over their heads, and down into the alleys to better get a glimpse of this Tuscan region. It's easy to get trapped into just shop hopping, but to look up, and down is the perfect reminder for why you came.  

We came by Speed Train to get here, and really, to be in Tuscany, you will need a car.  We had cooking lessons the first day.  They were over an hour away, but that was just fine with us, as it allowed us to see more of the country side.  We LOVED our class.  It was a small class, hosted in the home of the cooks.  They are a husband and wife team, with their daughter helping out.  The daughter is currently in college in Florence.  The house really reminded you of the house used in the movie, "Under the Tuscan Sun."  The windows were open and the rolling vineyards and church bells could be heard from the distance.  They had 2 big wooden tables in the kitchen; one was for the fresh vegetables to sit, and also housed 2 mounted pasta machines.  The other was a large square where the 6 students would work. So, the class was very personal and everyone interacted with such enthusiasm for their home-made experience.  The class was 3 hours itself, but after sitting around and eating, our whole day was at least 6 -7 hours.  We made a succulent 3 mushroom brushetta appetizer, followed by homemade ravioli with spinach with creamy sage sauce and a homemade tart with fresh fruit.   All I can say to that is A M A Z I N G !!!  Totally worth everything.  By the end of the day, and meal, you truly felt as if you had spent the day with family and friends.  It was so sad to leave, and as we all left, we bid the large great dane ciao as well

We spent 4 nights total in Tuscany.  We sat by the pool and talked to other travelers.  We closed our eyes and soaked in some sun.  It was so refreshing to be here at the villa.  Everytime I turned around, I wanted to take a picture.  (I had to resist, though.)  On our first evening there, we arrived late due to our train arriving late. This was the actual evening of our 10 year wedding anniversary. It was dark, and we needed to just stop at a gas station to take a potty break and to get a snack. We called the villa to let them know we were running late.  The man on the other end was such a wonderful host.  He asked if he could reserve a place for us at the villa for dinner and we of course said yes. Up to that moment, we thought we just would have to deal with a can of Pringles and a coke as our anniversary dinner.  After getting to our room at night, we quickly changed clothes and went down to dinner.  Not knowing what to expect, we were completely overwhelmed at the picture perfect-ness of the occasion.  Sitting outside under the stars, Cortona sitting on the hill, lit up like a monument.  The bells ringing from the churches as the clock ticked away to 10pm.  The waiter wore a suite, and spoke Italian English.  Oh, did I mention that there was music in the garden playing, and ironically, it was some of the same music we had chosen for our wedding.  Yes, pretty amazing.  It was truly a delightful surprise.  We couldn't have planned a better evening. 

The days afterwards were filled with shop strolling, and people gawking and photo moments. There were no museums to get reservations for or arrangements to be made, no trains to catch or luggage to pack.  It was pure unadulterated relaxation.  

It wasn't until this morning that Jonathan and I had to come to life again and move from the villa to our last place of refuge before we return home. It was to Florence that we had to pack up like nomads and head to today.  With maps in hand and preloaded GPS directions, we headed for the city.  I tell you the truth, the best navigational tools are the sun, moon and stars.  I say this because we were only trying to drop our belongings off at the hotel, then take the car back to Hertz.  Do you know how wrong "maps" can be on your GPS.  I can answer that.  Very wrong. As I would look at the little blue dot, (which was us), we would be on the right street, and without us moving the car, the little blue dot would migrate 2 streets away.  I was reminded of the movie about Herbie, the VW bug that would hop on sidewalks and use a mind of his own.  We did get a great view of the Duomo.  Others were walking and taking pics.  Not US!  We drove right up to the square and took a gander at it.  We rounded another one way street, and I said... "Ohhh, Ahhhh, look!  There's the Duomo."  We really kept our cool, which was rare for both pilot and co-pilot. But, what were we to do.  We, no doubt, made a GRAND entrance to Florence.  We did make it to the hotel, checked in quickly and took the car back.  I will say I can read a map much better and Jonathan trusted me, while at my mercy.   

It had been such fun, although hairy at times with the rental car.  We are just now laughing about that saga. Tomorrow, we hope to squeeze in Michelangeo's works and more pasta.  

It's night time for us.  We've had quite the day.  Good Night all.  I do hope to post at least one more time before we leave here.  

Kelley and Jonathan 


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Mom, RR on

I enjoyed seeing ALL the pictures and reading the commentaries! I have really enjoyed your travels!!!

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