June 10 Peter and Sue traveled to Florence joining Robert, Mary Ellen,
and Janet, who had arrived a week earlier. Robert rented an apartment on
a wine and olive oil producing estate called Fattoria di Bagnolo near Tavarnuzze
and Impruneta, about 15 km
south of the city.
In the picture we are walking on the estate after a rainstorm. All pictures
on this page can be clicked for a BIG view.
visited the town of Vinci -- made famous by Leonardo -- and saw his sponsor's
castle which now houses a museum of his inventions. Nearby is a ceramics
factory and showroom that produced these singing angel sculptures. We priced
some to have them shipped home, but thought better of the idea!
driving in Florence is both scary and prohibited for non-residents, we
mostly rode the bus into the City. The bus runs every twenty minutes from
Tavarnuzze to the center of Florence. Here are Robert and Sue on
ATAF #37. Do they look like non-paying scofflaws? (From Sue: What Peter
does not mention here, is that he is the one that jammed the bus's ticket
validating machines causing palpable stress by many of the Italian riders).
is the Uffizzi on the Arno
river. It was once offices for the powerful Medici family, and is arguably
Europe's most popular art gallery. An athletic club accesses the river
underneath and its elite members row daily in favorable conditions.
at Bagnolo, the estate's manager Marco gave us a tour of the cellar where
wine is aged. The floor is new, but the walls were built in the 1500s.
next morning we visited the nearby Florence
American Cemetery. This immaculately maintained piece of the USA honors
Allied dead in WW2, and has an eerie beauty. We were told that our
government spends $3,000,000 per year to maintain this beautiful cemetery.
also visited the nearby Certosa
del Galluzzo, started in 1341 and still in operation as a Cistercian
monastery. We took a tour given by one of its monks. Those are monk's "cells"
on the top of the hill and each has separate rooms for sleep and prayer,
and a private garden.
a subsequent trip to the city, we were treated to this view from the Piazza
Michelangelo. Most of the popular sites in the city are visible, including
the Ponte Vecchio, tower of the Palazzo Signoria, domes of the Battistero
and Duomo, and Santa Croce church.
next day we drove to Poggio a Caiano to visit this Medici
Villa, started in 1480. Designed as a country retreat for the Medici
family and their cronies, its interior walls are covered with frescoes
depicting family members as heroic Roman soldiers. Medici guards would
have quickly evicted the riff-raff seen here. The frieze below the
pediment is a copy of the original which is housed in the Villa.
The copy was made by Richard Ginori, the famous, very expensive, Italian
at our more humble, but still luxurious, villa we took our afternoon swim.
Our usual routine was a morning trip, lunch, siesta, pool time, and an
is a sunset view of the main entrance to the Fattoria where wine and olive
oil are sold. The restoration and maintenance of this property, together
with management of the farm and its oil and wine production, are the work
of Marco. He also took time to make sure our stay there was perfect.
our most ambitious day, we drove a 250 km circuit on country
roads, visiting various sites southwest of Siena.
This is the Ponte
della Pia which I spotted off off the side of the road, and pulled
over for a picture. It was an old bridge in Amerigo Vespucci's time, and
it still can carry Peter's weight (even after all that gnocchi)! It marks
the start of a trail in the woods that is a favorite of Mountain Bikers.
little further down the road is the Abbey of San
Galgano, now a ruin. It is claimed that the abbey lost its roof (in
1548 or 1786, depending on who you ask) because a corrupt abbot sold its
roof leading. We met a woman who was a flower girl in a wedding held on
the grassy floor inside.
finally reached the beautiful town of Massa
Maritima crowned by this ruined tower. From the tower one can see a
huge swath of Tuscany, part of the Tyrrhenian Sea, and Elba beyond.
Tuesday mornings Florence hosts an enormous market in Le Cascine park.
Clothing, food, flowers, and house wares are on sale from stalls attached
to cargo vans, lined up in a mile long canyon. Peter's big purchase
was an espresso machines so he can drink as much espresso at home as he
work off some heavy meals of pasta and bistecca (beef steak) Robert and
Peter hiked to Tavarnuzze and back to Bagnolo through the town of Montebuoni.
Here is a road that we had passed earlier in our rented Fiat "Weekend"
station wagon with an inch to spare on either side. You can see where other
vehicles didn't make it through unscathed!
renewed appetites we visited the restored castle town of Castello
di Montefioralle near Greve in Chianti. This view shows the octagonal
inside road with the houses that form the castle walls on the left, and
the castle walls on the right. Amerigo Vespucci was born in one of these
houses. The town has a new restaurant with excellent food and an unbelievable
view on a summer evening.
visitors see only the section of Boboli Gardens from the Pitti Palace to
the top of the hill. This is part of the quiet section toward the Roman
Gate which is just as worthy of a visit. There is a second entrance to
the gardens at the Roman Gate.
at the pool, we joined Marco's family for his son's birthday celebration
with rapidly melting ice-cream.
3 weeks and 3000 km Robert returned the trusty
Fiat to the Florence airport early in the morning.
Twenty out of 200+ pictures are on this page. See them all on my proof
Some previous travelogues are Italy
99 and Europe
Questions and comments are welcome. Email Peter.Allan@home.com.