The Murphys' Italian Adventure travel blog

With our gondolier Giovanni--a once in a lifetime adventure

San Gimigiano from our window

Another of our views

In the "backyard"

The residence where our apartment is located

At one of the gates of the old walled town

Another of our views from our apartment

Here we are up beautiful Tuscany. But first I need to go back to tell you about our last morning in Venice. After such a soggy Sunday (which didn't dampen our spirits), we woke up this morning to blue skies. We had been saying that we were not ready to leave Venice, as there was so much we wanted to see and do. I should have planned for three days there instead of two.

But this last morning made the time seem complete. Curtis had emailed that he and Sandra wanted to give me a gondola ride as an early Mother's Day gift. That was quite a surprise, as we had not planned to do that. I didn't

think it was going to happen after all the rain, so sunshine was a blessing. We were at a gondola dock at 9:30 when the first rides begin. Our gondolier, Giovanni, took us on a wonderful 40-minute ride through the canals of Venice and then out into the Grand Canal to finish up. The canals were full of gondolas on this lovely day, some of them with a musician or a singer to add to the Venetian flavor. It was a delightful time, and then we were ready to move to our next place.

The vaporettas were very crowded today, as many tourists were leaving on a Monday as we were. Most of them were heading for the train or bus station as we headed for the car park garage, wondering what we were going to do about our lost or misplaced ticket. But lo and behold, there was that precious little piece of paper on our car's dashboard. So we were soon able to be on our way.

The drive to Tuscany was about five hours, with a couple of stops, on the autostrada except for the last few miles. And Jim is really able to keep up with best Italian drivers now!

As we approached our destination, the terrain became the beautiful hills covered with vineyards that you see in pictures. When we reached San Gimigiano, we found the streets outside the walled town completely packed with tourists--day trippers getting ready to leave. Cars are not allowed inside the city walls; parking is in lots or on the streets outside. Our GPS gave up on locating our destination, and we finally had to call for further directions. Even then it was not easy to find down a narrow gravel road about a mile outside of town.

When we arrived at Ponte a Nappo, our agriturismo home for the next four nights, we were amazed at the beautiful location with fantastic views in all directions--the towers of the old walled city, vineyards, green fields--beauty all around. We are in one of two small apartments, and I believe they also have two rooms that they rent.

The rock home is lovely, and the hosts are so nice. This rural B&B, including the vineyard beside it, belongs to Carla, who doesn't speak English, and her son, Andrea, who does. We bought a bottle of their good white wine to sample before going to San Gimignano for dinner.

We found the town empty of the hoard of day trippers and the cobblestone main street almost empty. We soon located a very nice little restaurant in which to try out some of the local cuisine. Jim had pasta with pork cheeks, and I had noodles with wild boar sauce, both delicious.

Jim is already asleep, and I won't be far behind him. Tomorrow we will make a drive and explore some of the many villages of Tuscany.

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