|This week we have buried ourselves in the delights of Tuscany. We have been to this area of Italy several times before, but are always stunned by its beauty, hilltop villages and wonderful food. The wine is not bad either.
We have hiked for hours along dirt tracks, been surprised by the remote hilltop settlements, the stunning views and the roads lined with olive trees and vineyards. Ian has cycled a few routes in the area and always comes back sweaty, out of breath and with legs shaking from the massive hill ascents, especially challenging on the fold-up bike. We have ended the week camped outside the incredibly beautiful town of San Gimignano, called the “Medieval Manhattan” with 14 huge stone towers still standing out of an incredible 72 originals. Families would try to outdo each other by building ever higher towers to “lord it” over rivals.
Liz continues to cook fantastic dinners in the camper van with ingredients all bought at the local markets and gourmet food stores. Fresh pasta with wild boar sauce, salad and olive oil, followed by parmesan cheese, red wine and panforte was our meal to end the week. Bellissimo!
We are now gradually moving south with Rome as a destination in 10 days or so.
What we have learned in the last week:
1. “Ride with GPS” has been fantastic (as noted in an earlier blog). However, in Tuscany it is vital to check the elevation gains. A ride this week took Ian up to every hilltop village in the area and he came back from a 50 KM ride looking like he had ridden across a continent.
2. There are a lot of tourists in Tuscany. However, if you see a vehicle coming towards you and the driver is on the cell phone, you can guarantee they are Italian. Even the bus drivers do it…………………..
3. After visiting one of our favourite Italian towns of Lucca, the return train journey was an adventure. The train left 40 minutes late, then the conductor told us that there was a big problem. The train was too long to stop at the station we wanted to get off at. He looked really concerned and was shaking his head. After about 10 minutes, we suggested that maybe we could just walk through the train to another coach. “OK no problem – smiles all around”. Go figure, this is Italy after all.
4. Ian can navigate to the South Pole, but has been lost twice on the trails in Tuscany - “trails” used in the loosest sense of the word.
5. Talking about the South Pole, Ian’s tent was larger than the inside of our camper van. This was noticed on day 2 of a rainy spell.
6. Update on the “missing” 83 Euros. Apparently the rogue campsite wire transferred the refund last Wednesday. It is now Monday and no sign of the funds. Another episode of the continuing saga next week!
Every week we will give you a trivia question, with the answer given the following week. Remember, no Googling!
This Week’s Trivia Which famous 20th Century war photographer was born Endre Ernő Friedmann? (We saw an exhibition of his photos in Italy during WW2 in a museum in San Gimignano.)
Last week’s question: Which of the following items were invented in Italy?
d) Optical eye glasses
e) All of the above
And the answer is: ………………………..all of them!
Until next week!
Liz & Ian