Sunday, September 18, 2005

Lucca, San Gimignano, Firenze and more!!!

Well, let's start with what I can get down: we (the Sr Boy e mi) are in Volterra in a combo I/N caffe, bar, and Roman and Etruscan dig!!! You might try googling Web & Wine Internet Cafe in Volterra to see if it shows you any pictures. There REALLY is a glass floor with a Roman and then below that, Etruscan excavation all nicely lit up for ones viewing pleasure. We rode over from Cortona this afternoon and are set up in a lovely room with the bike parked and locked outside despite this being a walled city and limited vehicle access. Cortona was also that overworked word "amazing". We went there (a) b-c there is a m-c race course near at hand and our friend was hoping to race today and (b) b-c of That Book (Under the Tuscan Sun) OK - the place is CRAWLing with tourists (we were there!) and mostly Damericans but if one gets up early enough in the morning, they aren't either there or up yet and one gets the Sat market to share with the locals and, later, the Etruscan museum almost to oneself!!! One gets to buy Parmiggiana in 250 gm chunks and eat it with perfectly ripe plums picked out by the frutta e verdura donne on the steps of the church on one of the piazzas and watch the world go by.

Truth: wherever there are children and pigeons, children will chase and pigeons will fly!! Even on steep stone steps!

A few magic moments from ieri, the maid had cleaned our room and noticed we were becoming Italian enough to hang our clean laundry out the window but not Italian enough to tie the hangers on so she did using a string from her mop! (We were 3 floors up and on an inside court with no apparent easy or clean access to the bottom - perhaps she had had experience of fishing other tourists' laundry out of there!!)

The next was later in the afternoon when I walked up one of the loooooonnnngg stairways which take the place of streets and met a nonna (grandmother) who wished me buona sera and, when I replied, launched into a great volley of Italian which I think was about the coming rain and that she needed some help to do something. When she got to the end with the rising inflection which means ??? in any language, I made the universal non capisco shrug. She looked at me and said, "non italiano??" "non italiano," says I. She laughed and laughed and said what I figured out later to be that I looked Italian and she thought I was!!

And the last was walking up to the trattoria in the pouring rain across rivers of water (washing the pigeonpoo away) running down the runnels built in the centre of the 10 foot wide streets to offer the share of our table to a lovely Irish-English couple from Cambridge who are scouting their wedding location for next spring. We had all seen the bride and groom on "my" steps just before the rain started and had all recognized the Englishness of the wedding by the hats on the women!!

And that was Cortona except the rain didn't stop until almost 11 this morning so The Sr Boy had time to look at the museum and I the Fra Angelico Annunciation in the diocesan museum (along with a lot of other beautiful things including Severini's Stations of the Cross set up a very long staircase) Of course, it would be typical that Yrs Truly noticed that there was only one bookmark left of Adam and Eve getting tossed out of the garden and several each of the angel and Mary. And a prize to the first person to correctly guess which I bought!!!

Which brings us back to Lucca, San Gimignano and Firenze..... All were day trips from our friends in Vitolini and all were (altogether now....) AMAZING!! The Sr Boy gets a 10/10 for his ability to deal with my navigating. Remember people, we are doing this at speed with hand gestures, smacks and yelling through earplugs! Probably why we are still married!!! He has RIDDEN into and OUT of Firenze. Sure "in" was guided but "out" he figured out and did - figure the rest of his trip will be a snap after that adventure and we aren't going to repeat it anytime soon! Lucca we managed to get to on its major festival day when they were going to illuminate the edges of buildings (up to 4 stories high) around the cathedral and main square with candles. Sfortumente, we had to get back for dinner and before dark (more important!!) so missed it but I am coming back for that some 13 settembre. Lucca is a completely walled city with a wide promenade across the top which is used for walking and bicycling. We rented bikes and spent a lovely hour doing 2 circuits looking over the edges into back gardens and patios and at the construction of the walls. We got home in the dark and exhausted.

San Gimignano is the town of towers. If you saw "Tea With Mussolini", the latter part was set there. We had a great ride on some very twisty Italian roads and parked (this is important - the parking I mean) right outside the gate in a m-c only parking space. Another walled town with a beautiful pair of squares and the sound of bells every half hour. The frescoes in the cathedral were eyepopping (we sinners had better clean up our acts although the damned looked like a better party crowd than the blessed!) The new testament in medieval dress was thought-provoking. A pizza and gelato on more cathedral steps and it was time to ride back for more fabulous food and another crash into our gracious hosts' bed.

Firenze will have to wait... There is vino rosso locale calling me. A bit pricy at 3 Euro a glass after last night's very good 1 litre bottle for 5 Euro (7.50 Cdn)!!!!!

Arrivederci, mi amici.


Blogger julia said...

OOOHHH OHHHH it must have been the Mary bookmark!!

Now to finish and reread and soak in the posting...lovely

7:30 p.m.  

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