Tuesday: We’re on our way to Florence. For lunch we stopped at a small winery near Collodi.
Why yes, that is Pinocchio, created by Carlo Collodi right here.
Il Poggio is a small winery, catering to the likes of us.
We were greeted by Pamela and two floppy Pyrenees dogs, one of whom was shameless in his/her readiness to be loved. (We were told that they were cuddly, but also had a bad habit of going to the next farm over and eating the chickens.)
Pamela was one of those women who seem effortlessly chic and lovely. She was also cheerful and friendly.
Pamela led us up the slope to talk about olives, grapes, and the wine and olive oil they make.
Behind me were some oak trees that had this curious growth on them:
Very alien looking, and they were as sticky as they look. I have no clue what they are, and neither did anyone at the farm. Anyone have any suggestions?
Back down at the farm, we had a hearty lunch—there is no other kind of meal in Italy—with good enough wine that we ordered some to be shipped home.
Back on the bus, and onward through the Tuscany countryside. How do you know it’s Tuscany? The cypress trees:
Here’s the thing, though: in the rest of Italy, cypress trees are associated with cemeteries and graveyards. While Tuscany has decided they look pretty and has planted them all over the place, the rest of Italy thinks they look a bit creepy.
Too many photos, so I shall put them in an slideshow and you just click through.
[I chose not to bring my laptop on this trip because toting the MacBook was just too much, but the iPad won’t allow me to add comments; check back next week after I’m back home to hear what I thought.]
tl;dr: the Baptistery was beautiful, the church was gorgeous, and we didn’t even really walk over to the Campanile, which I understand is famous for not being upright. Truly, if your time is limited, skip the Campanile and see the church. And do not embarrass us by posing for a photo of you “holding up” the tower. Oy.
Often on this trip the bus could not pull up and disgorge us at the destination. We either had to walk, or in this case ride a little tram which usually transports elementary children to school.
Finally we reached Florence and were on our own for dinner. We had been advised to check out a new plaza with restaurants, but on the way down a shady-looking street…
… we came across the Trattoria Tito’s. Wait, cried the LFW, and she riffled through her Top Ten book. This was in fact a highly recommended little restaurant, good food, and “theatrical,” whatever that meant. We went in.
Great food, delightful waiters, and not expensive at all! We were asked if we had reservations; no, we didn’t. There was a table open, but we’d have to clear out before 9:30. No problem, we said, we’re Americans; eating a meal in an hour and a half was not a problem.
And then we stayed until 11:00. No one ever came to ask us to leave. In fact, we even asked for our check at 9:20–the response was, and I quote, “No! Now we drink!” We then worked our way through shot glasses of homemade lemoncello and an amaro (bitter digestiv).
The whole place by the time we left was full of families, groups of friends, and one bunch of high-spirited high school boys who were a lot of fun to be next to. When we told them we were from where The Walking Dead was filmed, they lit up with excitement. (They were offered their lemoncello at the front on their way out; they obviously had places to be and couldn’t dawdle all night at the table.)
Several of the other tables ordered what looked like a Huge Pile o’ Meat, but we learned the following day this was actually a Florentine specialty: a T-bone steak about three inches thick, cooked very rare, and then chunked up on a platter to be shared.
Bedtime, and tomorrow: FIORENZE!