Saturday, 27 September 2008

Tuscany

We flew out the day before my birthday and when we landed in Pisa we were greeted by 37 degree heat and blazing sunshine. We then stood in the heat waiting for the shuttle bus to take us to the car hire area. Twenty minutes passed, and the buss finally arrived. We got off the bus two minutes later having travelled no further then 2-300 hundred yards! Good job us Brits are World Champion Queuers (read that carefully).

We then plugged our destination into Sat Nev and set on our journey.

Two hours later we arrived in Radicondoli and attempted to find the house where the owners of our villa lived. Finding every house but, we drove into town and parked outside the bakers and called the owners (guiseppe & Pasquelina) on the telephone. It was then that I discovered they didn't speak a word of English and that my Italian was woefully inadequate. They arrived and told us to follow them to the villa. Once again we set off on the beautiful Italian mountain roads until Guiseppe turned off onto a dirt track. We duly followed.

Guiseppe in his 4x4 was clearly acustomed to this road and my brother-in-law, armed with his meaty Peugeot 307 1.6 diesel estate car gave chase up the steep "track" in a cloud of dust and rubble. I decided to take the more leisurely approach in my Fiat Bravo 1.6 turbo diesel and the bangs and loud scrapes that were coming from beneath the car confirmed my choice. Until that is I stopped because I couldn't now see where I was going and I was very conscious of the steep drops either side of me. I tried to set off again, but modern technology was not doing me any favours. The traction control monster had other ideas about getting us up this slope. Eventually (after 6 attempts) I managed to get enough momentum going to carry us up the drive. We arrived at the top greeted by a "what took you so long" look from our hosts.

The strugle was worth it though, because at the top of the drive we were greeted with this stunning site:



With views like this around us:

View from the upper balcony.


This one is of the view of the town Radicondoli (top of the hill)


LadyWayne talking to our neighbourly sheeps.


Views to the south.


Pasquelina gave us a tour of the frankly massive villa and we chose our rooms. For the first week there were only four of us rattling around in the villa, and we set about soaking up some of the sunshine...



Little did we know that we needed to make the most of it. We enjoyed two days of glorious weather - including the day we'd arrived, and then we experienced 4 days of typically British weather. Rain - well, showers for the first day, then that night we had the most viscious storm I have ever experienced. Thunder and lightning like I'd never seen (or heard), the closest bang was less than two "elephants" away. None of us slept vry well that night, it hit home how isolated we actually were.

Here's an idea of how exposed we were - our villa is the building in the centre of this picture (viewed from Radicondli).



After the storms had passed we had typically British summer weather - temperatures no greater than 24 degrees and most days were sunny with some cloud. The upside of that was that whenever we visited the tourist destinations, the queues were pretty much non existent. There's an upside to everything.

We visited the usual places - Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa, and to be honest they all tended to look pretty much the same, narrow streets, full of charm, but just smaller or larger scale versions of each other. I have loads of photos, but here's just a selection.

Pisa - the tower of.


LadyWayne propping it up (well, when in ........Pisa).


I also stumbled upon (quite literally) the lesser known tourist atttraction in Pisa, which is just around the corner from the tower.

The Leaning Bollard of Pisa.



Just some more random photos.

Typical Tuscan street, complete with car.


LadyWayne loving Siena.


One of the stunning sunsets we had during our stay.


British weather in Siena (I think).


World Champion ice cream - yes, we had one, and yes it was bladdy lush!


An allotment (of sorts) - by jove did they know how to grow tomatoes. If only I could find some seeds....


Dining out - Italian style.


The best fresh produce I've seen on sale - in a tiny town called Casole D'Elsa. Lovely.


In the same town the residents seemed to have this fascination with sticking tiles on their walls and painting them. Charming.


My favourite sunset photo.


Looking through the photos - there are far too many for me to post here. In Tuscany almost every view is a photo opportunity so I'm sure you can imagine there are quite a few.

Any of my Bookface friends wll be able to view the whole album once I'v uploaded them all.

Now, to see what's happened down the plot....

3 comments:

Vegetable Heaven said...

Gorgeous views. Glad you enjoyed it. The weather was similar here - except for the lack of sunny bits in between!

Clare Channing said...

Wow Wayne, looks as if you had a cracking time. Great pics - 'specially the slow food sign.

Rachel's Revelations said...

Those views were breathtaking! Saw you on Grow your own forum and thought I'd take a look at your blog!