Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Italy Part 2: Tuscany.

The first part of my Tuscany adventure began with the logistics of getting from Rome to a little town called, San Miniato.

There was some confusion at the train platform and it took about twenty minutes for us to find our seats. Eventually. we sat down and enjoyed the ride.

We arrived in Florence and took a taxi across town to the airport, where our rental car was waiting for us. After that, we piled in the car and hustled towards San Miniato. So we could make our check in time


I must admit when we first arrived at the Villa in San Miniato, my jaw dropped.


The Villa Contessa Marianna is nestled on top of a secluded hill down a dirt path, just on the edge of town. Here is a quote taken from their website about the property:

"Villa Contessa Marianna is part of a group of buildings and lands on the “Bonaparte knoll”. Its name is due to the fact that was an ancient property of the Bonaparte’s family in San Miniato. It was the family of the most famous Napoleone. 
In 1701 Maria Maddalena Bonaparte received it as a dowry going married in this year to a noble Bonaccorsi. In 1805 the country-house was given to the family of the present owners, maintaining the historical documentation and many furniture of the day. Nowadays the property has been completely restored and it is an exclusive residence for those looking for an historical and relaxing holiday."

Side note: San Miniato is known for growing truffles or tartufi. I spent a large portion of my trip purchasing truffle products or trying truffle dishes. It was amazing how ridiculously affordable it was, even in Euro.


I purchased a truffle oil vinegar mix that is about 50% truffle chunks and a whole large white truffle for 16 euro which converts to about 22 dollars. SCORE!








Drunken Family Bicycle Wine Tasting Tour:

I can't help laugh at this one. When it was first proposed to me, I laughed and then followed with a fist pump. Then, I realized it wasn't a joke. Yes, the whole family rented bicycles from I Bike Tuscany and followed their tour guides from vineyard to vineyard.

What I didn't know is that I would be bicycling all day...OR...that it would be through treacherous winding hillsides...OR...that each winery would give us four to six wines to taste...and bread...and cheese...oh my! Regardless, it was AWESOME!

Did I find any wines I liked? One winery stood out. Their wines had a quality that surpassed the rest. I also enjoyed their in-house balsamic vinegar and brought a bottle home. Thank you, Casa Emma.




Vinci:

I really HAD to see Leonardo da Vinci's home town. His name literally means, "Leonardo from the town of Vinci". I am fairly obsessed with him and couldn't pass up seeing the land that inspired his genius.

Vinci is a quiet little place surrounded by beautiful green Tuscan hills. In the center of Vinci is a small group of historical buildings that have been preserved since Leonardo's time. We visited the Museo Leonardiano di Vinci. Which was amazing...even more so when I figured out that there were pamphlets in English in each room. The museum is split into two buildings and they are surprisingly small. Regardless, I had a fantastic time and even purchased some souvenirs for myself.


Pisa:

I haven't mentioned this before, but the entire time I was in Italy it was uncomfortably hot. I should have been ready for this, since I live in Texas. However, a lot of Italy lacks air conditioning OR the air conditioning they have is CRAP! The good news? It was a beautiful over cast and windy day in Pisa. The bad news? This made for bad picture taking.

Honestly, I wish I would have been able to spend more time in Pisa. We drove in and parked for free near the tower. Helpful tip: There is free parking (for cars) at the Parcheggio Pietrasantina. Then we walked towards the the Tower and enjoyed the sites.

Honestly, Pisa is super touristy and in places somewhat ghetto. It is a somewhat cheesy scene, yet I found the merchants less pushy than in Rome. I also found the dirty sea side feel refreshing and found myself wanting to explore more. Alas, I just didn't have the time.


Florence:

First, parking in Florence was and is a nightmare. There are plenty of spots in Florence to park. However, the time when you can park in said spots and who can park in said spots; is SOOOO confusing. Also, if you go to a gated paid public parking facility, like we did...don't be surprised if the gate doesn't let you in. The lots fill up fast! If you have patience someone will leave and the gate will let you in.

Florence is another place I wish I could have spent more time. I didn't realize how much there was to see and do. I did go to the Galleria dell'Accademia to see Michalangelo's David. Did I get a picture? No. Why? Because, I didn't bring my camera. I read online that the museums don't let you take pictures and I left it up to Andy to take pictures (again). He choose not to get into a battle with any museum folk.

I also spent a day at the Uffizi Gallery. This museum could have taken a two day visit. It is massive museum, with a never ending supply of art. My one complaint? They didn't have air conditioning working in most of the rooms. The rooms that seemed to have the "working" air conditioning happened to be the rooms with the "attraction art works". These included; Birth of Venus and La Primavera (Spring) by: Sandro Filipepi (Botticelli),  The Baptism of Christ by: Andrea di Cione (Verrocchio) and Leonardo da Vinci, The Annunciation by: Leonardo da Vinci, and Tondo Doni (The Holy Family) by: Michelangelo Buonarroti. The rest of the art seemed doomed to the same fate as all the sweaty people marching through the halls.

Next time I travel to Florence I will try to set aside more time to really explore the city. There is an abundance of historical sites and more museums. Not to mention the boutiques and shopping available all over Florence. I did manage to have a little time to pick up a few more souvenirs but really didn't get the chance to "cut loose".

That concludes a basic walkthrough of my time in Italy. I have left out so much that I feel somewhat guilty. However, I don't want to bore anyone with by endless ramblings and emotional merry-go-rounds. It was an awesome trip, full of lifetime lasting memories. I hope to go back, soon.

Here is a link to the first part of my trip in case you missed it: Italy Part 1: My vacation is over and Rome

1 comment:

  1. I love looking at these pictures and reliving my honeymoon. Thank you for sharing!!!

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