Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Road trip to Italy: Tuscany

We woke up to the sound of birds chirping outside and as I opened our hotel window a magnificent view of the breakfast sitting area smiled back at me.
Now I see why the movie Under the Tuscan sun was filmed in this region. It's peaceful and the people are genuine.We made our way to Barberino Val D'Elsa where hubby's friend and family, from Colorado, were staying. They rented the villa, La Volpaia for one week from a nice couple, Silvia and Andrea who run the property. For an all inclusive price, they have breakfast and dinner provided and if they wish they can ride the horses or simply take a stroll on their backyard and enjoy breathtaking views.

We had a tour of the property and I whispered to my hubby, "I really want to live here." He said, "But what about your allergies?" Oh yeah, did I mention that I'm allergic to the cypress trees in Tuscany? The whole trip I was sneezing and very congested but I think I can live with that, don't you agree it's beautiful here? Something out of a magazine!

The kitchen

Sun room with art work
The sitting area, I can picture myself here, how about you?
Stairs leading to the backyard, maybe the secret garden pathway?

Brunch was lovely and we had a fun time getting to know all the family members especially their 5 year son who was amazed that we lived in Denver previously and knew about the basketball team The Nuggets. It's fun talking to kids!
Unfortunately the time came to say goodbye as we had a four-hour drive ahead of us to the ferry in Ancona. We drove north to Florence, past Bologna then south towards San Marino. I was a bit worried about the ferry as I have a light stomach, luckily the sea was calm and I slept through the night.

View of the islands from our cabin, we are near Split, home sweet home!

Overall it was a wonderful experience to drive through Italy, to see the Leaning tower in Pisa , getting lost in the small streets of Florence, admiring the towers of San Gimignano and sharing wonderful moments with hubby, as we reminisced about our first date 9 years ago. We're planning on taking many more road trips; next time we will bring our daughter along, this was a special occasion as it was our wedding anniversary. Arrivederci! A piu tardi! Goodbye and see you soon Italy.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Road Trip to Tuscany

We were exhausted from all the walking we did yesterday but we still had one more museum to visit before we left to San Gimignano and it was The Bargello.
A former residence of the chief of police and a prison now you can find a wide collection of Renaissance sculptures by Donatello, Michelangelo, and Cellini to name a few.

In the courtyard.

Afterwards we drove about 45 minutes south of Florence to the town of San Gimignano otherwise known as the city of beautiful towers.

This small town is mainly famous for its medieval architecture. Only 14 of the original 76 towers have survived.

We stopped at the shop,Podere La Marronaia to purchase some of their Intenso red wine and we asked the owner if she lived around the area and her reply was "I live here," as she pointed up to the picture on the wall. My jaw dropped! Breathtaking right?

Our hotel was originally priced at 120 euros, yeah I know,*pricey* but it was such a charming place that I asked if she would consider 80 euros as that was the price I was quoted at other hotels in the area, she came back with 85. I laughed, ok we'll take it, I replied.

Tomorrow we are meeting with hubby's friend from Denver, Colorado. He and his wife's family rented a villa for a family reunion and we were invited to have brunch with them. So stay tuned for more of the Tuscan countryside.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Road Trip to Italy: FLORENCE

We started our morning with a hearty breakfast as we knew we had several kilometers of walking ahead of us and needed a good way to start the day. Our first stop was to Duomo as it was a few minutes away from our hotel.

Duomo, Campanile and Baptistry.
Are you ready for some aerobic exercise? We are going to climb 400 plus steps up the Campanile.

We made it, out of breath but smiling!

We then got on our bikes to our next destination.

Santa Croce where you can find the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo.
Possible inspiration for the Statue of Liberty?Michelangelo's Tomb. This monument was designed by Vasari in 1570 as Michelangelo never completed the tomb he had planned for himself. The figures are painting, architecture and sculpture.

Afterwards we walked across one of the bridges to take another panoramic view of the city. The steps lead to San Miniato al Monte. After catching our breath we admired the view.Piazzale Michelangelo We also walked to Forte di Belverede but when we arrived the gates were closed with a bulletin posted that it has been closed since 2008 pending an investigation of the death of a woman who died on the premises. This is the second death related to this place as two years prior a man was also found dead. Street St. Giorgio where Galileo once lived.
Arno river view from Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence to escape being blown up during World War II.

Entrance to Palazzo Vecchio, it still fulfills its original role as Florence's town hall.

Piazza della Signoria a unique outdoor sculpture gallery. Wouldn't you like to hang out here in the afternoons reading your favorite book?

Neptune Fountain, the Roman sea god surrounded by water nymphs.

This concluded our sightseeing for the day, I'm exhausted, how about you? Tomorrow we will see The Bargello and afterwards drive to San Gimignano to see the Tuscan countryside.

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