I am very very aware that my words will not do the following update justice, but bear with me as I do my best to try.
We took a train from Roma to Firenze (what the Italians call Florence) that lasted about an hour and a half. I immediately saw the transition from the gray cement and concentrated streets to the rolling hills of the countryside. It actually reminded me a bit of the way Ireland impresses us with emerald hills and farms. I even saw a few herds of cattle along the way. Once we arrived in Firenze, the Wolff clan, along with our 4 monstrous suitcases made our way towards the Hertz office. This was a bit of an adventure, but after we found the correct address (for those who know me...insert appeasing smile here), enduring the teasing stares of locals watching us drag what could be our entire wardrobe through cobblestone stress, and passing this bakery that had meringues the size of my head (and NOT stopping), we found the place. We got our car, and although by some miracle of God, it fits all of our luggage, I have resolved that when I return, I am bringing a backpack and relying on local laundromats to keep my clothing clean. Planning on traversing a European country with your family? Well, there are no Ford Expeditions on this side of the pond.
We then set off for about an hour drive to Strove- a small town just outside of Siena. This place is filled with vineyards, castle like structures, and incredible scenery. We are staying in Castle Bigozzi- a small place hidden on top of a hill. It is akin to a small bed and breakfast. The owner serves you capuccino at your request and even lets you use his personal computer! My sister and I are staying in a room that is only accessible from the outdoor plaza equipped with hammock, swing and-weather permitting- a pool. Breakfast is served from 8-10 AM in this glass walled room that overlooks a village of farms, vineyards and small market.
This, my friends, is how I have envisioned Italia. This is the place that I have dreamed of for years. Yes, the monuments and the history is worthy of mention- to say the least- but this culture, the beauty and the lively nature of these people is what draws me to this place. It is quiet here, but so so rich in story and culture. The blues and greens of the vista are even deeper and brighter than what I envisioned...but yet, it is almost just as I expected.
We are here for the next five days and then it is off to Bologna and then to Venice. I hope to be able to update after our Assissi trip, as it is the one I am anticipating the most. We will go on a full tour of Florence on Sunday as well. Lots of art, architecture and excellent food!
Until next time,