Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1043: Luggage, Lattes and Lunacy
By Palma from California, Spring 2006
Page 6 of 17: May 24: Pacing, Pienza and a Poolside Picnic
Poolside picnic at L'Olmo
I woke up at 7:15 with the gorgeous view of Pienza out my window. It had been my first night of seven uninterrupted hours of sleep. Last night at dinner when discussing today’s schedule, we agreed to have breakfast at 8:30, leave at nine to walk around Pienza, get to St. Antimo for the 12:45 chanting, and go to Montalcino in the afternoon. I was very excited about the next two days, as this was the part of the trip Ida had asked me to plan, since I knew the area and the roads well. This part of Tuscany fills my soul with the beauty of each hill town, each cypress lined driveway, each farmhouse on a hill, and every possible shade of green in the spring. It makes me want to paint, as does Chianti.
I showered quickly, leaving the bathroom available for Ida and Gail. I went down for coffee at 8, with no signs of life from the darkened bedroom. As I was walking out the door, Ida opened one eye asking what time it was. I told her 8, and she leaped out of bed to plug in her rollers. They miraculously appeared at breakfast at 8:45, where I was writing in my journal. They ate their bran cereal as I slathered butter and homemade jam on a croissant. I initiated a conversation with Gail, apologizing for our words at dinner last night, and said I understood going out to dinner with women who eat and drink more than I do and not liking it when I end up splitting the bill and paying $40 for my salad and diet Pepsi. She smiled and acknowledged my apology. At 9, I said I would be outside in the courtyard with my coffee when they were ready.
By ten, I was annoyed and chain smoking with Ubaldo. By 11, I decided I didn’t care if they saw Montalcino or the chanting monks! They emerged at 11:20 without a care in the world. I didn’t care about keeping a “tight schedule”, but if you agree to a certain agenda, that someone has put time and energy into planning for you, then COMMUNICATE if you would like a lazy morning, or want to skip something that was scheduled. I am flexible, and more than willing to “play it by ear”. I could have slept in or done something else, besides wait. I bit my tongue, smiled and directed Ida the five kilometers to Pienza. We walked through cheese shops, and took pictures of the views from the wall. Gail went to see the church, as she is not a shopper, and I visited merchants I knew from past trips, practicing my Italian. I bought a scarf and some pecorino and wine, as did Ida; and Gail bought some Toscana salami. At 1, everything closed for lunch. We had dinner reservations at Latte di Luna for 8 p.m. Ida decided she wanted to eat our main meal NOW, so we cancelled the reservation I made weeks ago, and went for lunch instead. I was determined I was not going to let ANYTHING get to me in one of my favorite parts of Italy. The sun was out, I was warm for the first time all week, so, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” I shared a plate of pici in cinghiale sauce with Gail, followed by delicious grilled sausages. Ida had soup and duck. Gail had roast pork. We stopped for a ricotta-honey gelato.
We drove to Saint Antimo, and were somewhat disappointed to see it covered in scaffolding, but restoration is good, I guess. It was serene inside the old stone walls. I also missed the fields of poppies, but Ubaldo had explained that they are bad for the wheat crop, so pesticides are used to keep them away. I am glad I have dozens of poppy field pictures from the area from previous trips. The monks were not on their usual schedule. They would sing again at 7 p.m., oh well… On our way back, we stopped for a walk around San Quirico, and had a coke at the caffé.
On our return to L’Olmo, the road it is on between Pienza and Monticchiello was blocked off. We saw local police cars and a helicopter was circling quite low. We assumed there had been an accident. When the policewoman approached our car, she apologized for the delay and said they were filming a commercial on our road, and we would need to wait a few minutes. Then we saw the new prototype Porsche speeding down the road in front of us. They were making a Porsche commercial! When several cars had lined up, we were allowed to drive on. The TV crews, trailers and an extra Porsche were parked right across the street from L’Olmo. We watched them film for a while, and took photos of the whole thing.
When we walked into the courtyard of L’Olmo, the gracious owner, Loredona, greeted us. She walked up to me with a handful of printer paper, saying, “Did you write these wonderful things about us on the internet?” She handed me all my SlowTrav posts about L’Olmo, Ubaldo, the story of his romance with Dennee, my “cute story” about the coffee pot from our first visit, even the post of their surprise New Year’s Eve visit to our home in the desert. I told her all about SlowTrav, convinced her to contact Pauline about advertising, and in ten minutes, she delivered a tray with cheese, crackers and Prosecco to us poolside. We had a lovely drink with her, and changed into jeans for our picnic supper of pecorino, bread, salami, honey and wine.
Ida and Gail went to bed at 9, and I polished off the remaining wine in the courtyard, chatting with other guests until 11, when I called Brad and described our day. His first question of, “Did they apologize for being over two hours late?” only made me chuckle.
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