06th July 2018 – 12th July 2018
We left Pompeii and headed North into what people say is the most beautiful part of Italy, Tuscany. We have covered many parts of France but very little of Italy and friends have always said to us that we would love it and how right they were. Tuscany is like looking at a Masters painting, the scenery takes your breathe away and the villages are truly stunning. We stayed in a great location near Sienna, right in the forest surrounded by trees and plenty of shade and although the temperature was in the mid 30 degrees, we were coping quite well. As there was so much to explore in the area and the small winding roads were not Motorhome friendly we did get to hire a car for a week and it was just over the price of a day’s hire, that the tight fitting jean Italian in Pompeii quoted us.! To collect the car we needed to get two buses, one into Sienna and then change to another to take us out into the suburbs to collect the car. The great thing was the bus came right into the campsite to collect us and dropped us into the centre of Siena, easy ! The next bus we needed, a number 05 wasn’t so easy to locate. At last, after a kind Italian lady told us where it stopped, we waited and duly got on the bus only to find that it was going in completely the wrong direction ! We thought we may as well do the whole route and knew we would eventually get to where we needed to go. It was great people watching, a bus full of older ladies, laden down with their shopping, I did wonder where all the men were. We saw the suburbs of Siena, returned to the centre of Sienna where we had got on the bus and then at last we were heading in the right direction and with the wonder of google maps we got off at the right place and collected our little Lancia sewing machine. I must say I love these little cars, perfect size for 2 humans and a dog and a real treat after driving the Motorhome. What the car also allowed us to do was get my ear sorted out which had been giving me problems since Spain, all of 4 months ago. We first visited the pharmacy in the village and after telling them I needed to see a Doctor they drew me a map of the house that the Doctor lived in. When we eventually found it, I said to David, I am not going in there ! The shutters were falling off, it looked as if the property was derelict. I had visions of coming out with my ear worse than when I went in. We then popped into the small Tourist Office in the village of Sovicille and the young woman said, no, no, no, you do not go to the village Doctor he is for the grandfathers of the village and everything takes soooo long ! Go to the emergency department of the hospital in Sienna. We thought that was a bit drastic but after leaving it for another day, we decided that we had no option. We found the hospital and where we needed to go and gingerly we went into what we know as A&E. We had visions of a 4-5 hour wait with 50 other people but as we walked in there were 3 people waiting. We explained the problem and were told to wait, we were then taken into the emergency area and then finally escorted to what must have been the non emergency area to see a Doctor. I cannot express how wonderful the service was, the young Italian who was escorting everyone into the rooms, making us laugh with his English and keeping everyone in the room entertained. The young Doctor who I saw finally syringed my ear and I could have kissed him. (So could David I think will all my moaning I had given him over my ear !) 90 minutes after arriving, we were back in the car.
With my new found ear freedom, we explored the area. Beautiful Siena with it’s stunning Cathedral and the Piazza del Campo, the shell shaped square. This is part of the site for the famous Palio horse race, which is held twice a year and was being held whilst we were there. Ten horses and riders barebacked and dressed in their appropriate colours, represent 10 of the seventeen city wards, or councils to you and me. They circle the Piazza de Campo three times and it lasts for no more than 90 seconds and it is not unusual to see unmounted horses finishing the race without their jockeys. Thousands of spectators descend on the square and you have to get there very early to have a chance of seeing it. We had no chance, so just looked in the windows the next day to see all the photos of it ! Siena is one of the most visited Italian tourist attractions and it was very, very busy even when we visited in the early evening. Not very Italian but excitement ensued when we stumbled on a Chinese Restaurant and after 6 months without a Chinese, dinner was sorted.
We visited the famous town of San Gimignano, stunning but heaving with tourists (yes I know we are tourists !) and Volterra which with less tourists we loved more. To add to the visit of Volterra, there in the main square were the most beautiful vintage cars that were obviously on a rally. Original Fiat 500, Mercedes and MGs. These beautiful towns are best enjoyed just wandering the small streets that wind their way around and just enjoy turning the corners and seeing the most beautiful of vistas.
There are times in your life that you will always remember and for us, driving along to San Gimignano and stopping at a small restaurant that had a view to die for, looking over the rolling Tuscan countryside, filled with vines as far as the eye could see. I ate the best Ravioli I have ever tasted in my life with a delicious apricot tart to finish, washed done with some nice vino and an espresso. Pure Bliss !
We were told by the young lady in the Tourist office to visit Torre as there was a Monastery there which she said was beautiful. It only opens for 6 hours a week, so we had to get our timings right.
It was a beautifully preserved sanctuary and so well worth the visit. In Tuscany, you can just drive around the beautiful countryside and stop at the smallest of villages but they all reveal a hidden jewel.
We stayed 9 nights in total at the campsite and whilst we were there we met a lovely family from Bruges, Joost & Veronique with their son, who were on their 3 weeks holiday in their vintage caravan. It was amazing, still in perfect condition since new and very much loved. We spent a couple of evenings in their company and the greatest joy of our journey is meeting people like them. They were fascinating, we found our lives had taken a similar journey on one occasion and to spend time with them and talk was lovely.
After being on the road for 10 months now, I have found David to be the most relaxed he has ever been. We were sitting at dinner one night and out of the blue he says ‘ I am really worried that the jar of mustard in the fridge should be thrown away, it has been open for too long’ I thought to myself, if that’s his main worry right now, life is very good. The jar of mustard went in the bin !