Good morning from Tuscany!
Yesterday was a day on the move–we were able to sleep in for a bit in the morning before loading up our buses with or luggage and saying goodbye to Rome. We made a brief stop at a rest area en route to our lunch destination, and I was struck by how different Italy’s rest stops are to the ones in the U.S. First off, there was a section with a wide selection of wines and beers at the store (almost asking for some drinking and driving!), as well as a whole section of meats that would rival any grocery store’s deli section. The girls stocked up on snacks and potato chips of many exotic flavors before returning to the bus and and completing the drive to our lunch destination: Sienna.
We had the good fortune of having plenty of time to explore this amazing Medieval city. One could get lost in all of its winding streets and back alleys, many with incredibly steep inclines due to the rolling Tuscan hills. Our meeting spot was the Piazza del Campo, which featured an amazing tower that some of our girls chose to climb (400 steps to the top!). I took time to wander around and look for the best photo spots, taking in the beautiful Duomo and local Basilica. Drawn in by aroma, I also found an amazing shop that sold all sorts of varieties of truffle oils and also gave free sample tastings. There were wine shops, jewelry shops, art shops, leather shops, and no shortage of restaurants to see during our nearly three hour stop. We finally met up in the Piazza and took a group trip up the stairs to see the Duomo (Dr. Jenkins and I were the only ones who had checked it out during the free time), where the girls were either totally impressed with the sight OR more interested in buying fresh fruit from the fruit stand. Go figure. Our walk back to the bus afforded us to some beautiful panoramic views of the Duomo and Basilica, and we made a quick stop at a public WC (.50 Euros to use!) before heading back to the bus and finishing up the trip to Montecatini.
We arrived at our hotel and got our keys and got changed for what I hear was a lovely dinner (veal instead of chicken for the first time on the trip). I say “I hear it was a lovely dinner” because I took advantage of our proximity to Florence by taking a whirlwind trip into the city via local train–it was a 45 minute train ride, then a frantic run around the city for an hour because if I missed the 10:10PM train back to Montecatini I would have been stranded in Florence overnight! All in all, it was insane to do, but a nice little adventure.
We’re looking forward to seeing Pisa today and a concert this evening. Until tomorrow, ciao!