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Roccalbegna Rocks!

Sunning it in Southern Tuscany

sunny 26 °C

Delay for communicado due to lack of internet points in this part of the country! After a sad farewell to our lovely Irish friends (the vino helped) we set forth to the south where we noticed immediately after Sienna the lack of traffic and slow pace of life. The landscape is really hilly, chestnut trees, cypress and fir trees abundant, we spotted a small herd of sheep huddled under a tree (brown and woolly ones!) but great news,..we walked 10km through a natural reserve between Piancastagnaio and Castell'Azzura where we spotted two..yes 2...bambis..deer! The forest has wild boar, owls, badgers and eagles..but we were lucky to spot the deer, we saw none of the other! The bugs were everywhere, we needed jungle hats with nets! We were almost eating them as we strode uphill and down dale, bugs bigtime, ants and mosquittos the size of small wallnuts! it took 2.5 hours! However we were both spoilt on Monday when we trekked 1.5 hours through vineyards olivegroves orchards and to a small village called Pian de Ballo and I commented on a pretty garden and a lovely hot day, and suddenly we were offered chianti (which of course we accepted) and sat down on a stairway when the neighbours were also summoned to meet the kiwis on tour! We then had a glass of grappo each, this is made of grape skins and is very potent, almost like whiskey, Noel made them laugh when he said "no more as it will make me drive crazy like an Italian" they seemed to appreciate that! We had a lovely time there, we discussed a deaf dog, trains, cats, children, jobs, a wonderful experience for us to mix with the locals! We are in a farmhouse down a windy gravel road, but within 15 minutes to a lot of villages. We have met two lovely American women from Maine, Lois and Nancy, and have spent nights drinking and eating and sharing meals under the clear starry Tuscan skies. Weather here is very hot indeed, and is expected to stay this way for another week or so. We shall report back on Friday before we depart for Greece on Saturday. We are still enjoying everything this place is offering, the pastries, salamis, bread and artichokes are so mouthwatering and seem to contain no preservatives, simply all naturally grown and presented. Amore Italian cuisine. ciao for now xx

Posted by houghts 07:57 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Final Days here in Bardeggiano

Too Much of Everything Ain't Too Bad!

sunny 25 °C

We have been spoilt rotten by everything from the food and vino to the surrounding countryside. We walked 10km along the back roads amongst poppy fields, olive trees, wheat fields and grapevines. We have not spied out any livestock at all, except chickens. Nothing! We wonder where their meat and milk comes from. Any ideas? We decided to avoid the big villages, it really is a nightmare finding parking then only being outnumbered by Germans and Dutch tourists, we stumbled across a truly authentic rural town. As we drove closer it appeared like a castle set high on the hill, and as we parked and walked up, realised we had come to a place called Casole d'Elsa, very quiet, no tourists, 6 cats sleeping in the alley, windowboxes, and pretty handpainted ceramic tiles along the alleyways and exterior walls of the houses. Just gorgeous. We sat and enjoyed cupaccino followed by a locally made rosa vino, yum! The nicest quietest and friendliest town so far, I guess we can't avoid the touristy thing, but we really do enjoy conversing and simply seeing the Italians at work and play. We have made friends with Carmel and Mike from Cork Eire who seem to enjoy socialising with us around the table with vino til the wee small hours. We will miss them as they head off to Florence tomorrow. We are off south of Sienna to a remote place called Roccalbegna, not sure what to expect, as on the map its even smaller than here!! Yes we visited the library at Sienna and were in awe of the frescoes, we haven't yet bought cheese from the side of the road, but cherries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries are in abundance here! Thanks for all the comments, we can't tell you how great it feels hearing from you lot, wish you were here enjoying chianti and formaggio with us. Salute !

Posted by houghts 06:24 Archived in Italy Comments (3)

A Touch of Tuscany

Sienna and Surrounds

sunny 33 °C

We are gaining weight by the day.. we have no willpower when it comes to eating...we spent a day in San Gimignano an olde estruscan village high on a hill protected by a stone wall boasting up to apparently 79 towers (each tower represents a medieval family
who each controlled the town) but only a fair few towers remained, and we climbed the highest (bloody tiring and scary) but the view was spectacular, all the eye could see were vineyards hills and olive groves...just bello!! We did get ripped off though, bought two foreign beers at this local bar out in the boon docks, but they saw our rental car approaching....$20 bucks later...for two beers....I complained in my best Italian, non bene, car'o, (look those up) however not such a major when we are both safe and well (and fat). We have been in Sienna, a major touristy town, loads of european tourists, parking is a nightmare, despite being well prepared, the signs are everywhere, but indicate us to no-where...This most incredible 12th century cathedral built over several centuries boasting the most fantastic intricate gold decorations and artwork. Wow! Am liking the pitaccio gelato whilst Noel firmly adores his artichoke and mozarello pizza...weather wise, overcast, sunny, warm, hot, a mixed bag, no rain though. We are both well, enjoying your comments, off to remote villages called Montepulciano and Pienza, more news later in the week. Ciao for now xx

Posted by houghts 05:41 Archived in Italy Comments (3)

Rural Remote Italia

Cheap Vino, Delicious Cheeses, Fat Juicy Olives ...are we in heaven?

sunny 34 °C

Driving south from La Spezia without the gps was successful! We appear to have mastered the toll roads, roundabouts, and reading place names...not perfectly mind...but without too much hassel! We are in homestead which has about 6 villas for tourists, ours is quite basic, and dark and dank, so we spend most of our time outside facing a sparkling deep pool then on to trees and rural scenery. The villa is plaster, terracotta tiles and whitewashed walls with terracotta brick flooring throughout with dark heavy wood beams, doors and windowshutters...we bought up large at the supermarket and we held up the queue because the checkout operator insisted she find us a price for a shopping bag....she took ages and the queue were getting aggitated...we kept telling her not to worry about it, but boy we soon learned...do not buy anything without a bar code, seriously, we were in the supermarket for over 2.5 hours....don't laugh it is true...but the vino was great...! Weather is really warm, around 28oC no rain but is expected tomorrow. We appear to be the only tourists in the town, I am not afraid of speaking da lingo, we have met a lovely Irish couple who appear to enjoy the vino with us. Ahhhh we are such the soaks! We are heading to a big town called San Gimignano tomorrow we are told to get there early to avoid the tourists!! All is well with us, we have got lots of photos which we will download when we return to Uk. We are here until next Saturday and then head south. Love receiving the comments, keep it up, we appreciate very much. Buonasera it is bierra time!!!

Posted by houghts 04:07 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Amare Italia

We are in love here!

sunny 25 °C

Soooh much to tell you. First and foremost the car Lancia. Cute. Small. We set up Gps. We were all set. Problem. Wouldnt start, the radio did! I had to go ask how to start the car! Easy fixed. Depress brake first then engine will start! Why we didnt think of that? Near missed a bus. thought it was on the wrong side of road ...We are on a toll road, auostradde, 8 lanes. Approach the tollbooth. No one in sight. We sat we looked we wondered what to do next, meanwhile banking traffic behind ...barrier in front...no go! I exited to get help and waved traffic behind to go back! Discovered afterwards illegal to vacate car on main road without wearing safety vest! <Meanwhile <noel couldnt reverse the car...it would not go into reverse....meanwhile traffic still approaching, barrier down, meanwhile I get help and told to take ticket from the booth and pay at other end .....meanwhile Noel depressed brake...eureka car goes into reverse.....we hurriedly speed off, but amazingly our tempers were not frayed, not a heated word spoken throughout...believe us not...it is true we were cool calm and very collected...laughed and nearly cried. Our gps had a name for the english version "Kate" well we quickly discovered Kate had no sense of direction and took us on a merry-go-round and after nearly throwing Kate out the window we turned her off and proceeded with our map reading...3 hours later (instead of an hour) we found our destination at the Cinque Terre (look it up above Pisa on the west coast near La Spezzia). Our apartment is in a tiny village (Volastra) set in the hillside high above in the hills, surrounded totally by vegetation, olive trees abundant, beautful fertile vege and flower gardens, just gorgeous. Noel and I sat and drank 2 bottles of vino (local at $8 per bottle) on the rooftop, no handrail, just the roof overlooking the rural tranquill scene. The only sound we could hear was the little church bell tolling every hour then every half....just fantastic...weve got amazing photos for when we get back to Uk to show you. Our apartment is high spec. granite staircases kitchen bathroom and even the windowsills! Marble flooring, brass handles, ornate lightfittings, high timber doors and windowframes and shutters and indian cotton bedlinen (yes really) and immaculate and pristine throughout.....just fab! We walked down a donkey trail about an hours walk straight down through greenery to Manarola, a tiny village on the coast, fishing boats, tiny wee shops and paved streets...we met some Canadians and you know the rest....the bierre is great.....! Thanks for the txts, and the messages, keep it up, we sort of miss you .........we head to a little inland remote village near Sienna tomorrow, ....there will be more to tell you then .....missing you (sort of) ...arrivederci

Posted by houghts 03:48 Archived in Italy Comments (3)

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