Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1920: Rome, Tuscany, Venice & Amalfi for Beginners
By nikkihop from USA, Summer 2011
Page 5 of 16: June 4, 2011 Day Four: Tuscany and Volterra
Up early in the morning (jet lag receding), DB went foraging for pastries and brought back sodas, when we all wanted coffee. In all fairness, he doesn't drink coffee and thinks Dr. Pepper is the world's most perfect beverage, so we all just smiled and accepted our coffee-less lot. Our apartment had a coffee maker, but we hadn't made it to the store yet. Another trek to Hertz to rent a car to drive in Tuscany. Yes, I know it's weird to get to Florence one day and then turn around and leave it the next day, but that's the way we roll. I wanted to make the Saturday market in Volterra and since the Florence Duomo is open on Sunday but many other things in Tuscany are not, Saturday seemed like the best day for our drive. We would have two more days in Florence.
We were getting pretty adept at the ZTL dodging, so we zipped out of Florence at around 9:00am and took a beautiful drive to Volterra. DG1 and DG2 slept the whole way. I was hoping that the Volterra-Twilight movie series tie-in would garner some enthusiasm ... once they woke up. I made DB pull over several times so I could get out and take photos of the Tuscan countryside. I could have driven all day with that kind of scenery, especially since the weather was gorgeous and I was with my sweetie. Our eyes were as big as saucers taking it all in.
We arrived in Volterra in time for the market (closes at 1:00pm) and wandered through the market stalls, which sold everything from fruit to granny-sized panties and girdles for the Italian grandmas. I should note that we were able to find free parking in one of the many free lots (thanks again, Rick Steves). I agree with other posters on this website that it's best to rent the smallest car possible so you can fit into the tiniest parking spots in the world.
For lunch, we had to wait a bit since restaurants don't open until noon. We were the first customers at Il Pozzo Degli Etruschi on Via Delle Prigoni in Volterra, which has great food and the cutest waiter in the world. Seriously. DG1 and DG2 begin drooling again. Twilight-schmilight. The fastest way into these girls' heart is a good looking guy. Can I take credit for this one too? Most of our lunch conversation involved the morals of leaving stateside boyfriends for cute Italian men. We ordered the antipasti de mare, crostini with pate, bruschetta with pomodoro, two macaroni for DB and I, ravioli with tartufi for DG1 and grilled vegetable pizza for DG 2. Only half of a liter of wine since were driving. All of that was only €57. Wow.
After lunch, we wandered and marveled for about 20 minutes before the girls wanted to go back to Florence. Thus began the first real rough spot of our trip. It's a weird dynamic. DB is 41 and I'm 37. Neither of us has kids. We've been together a long time, and though we're both successful, we aren't rich. Family means a lot to DB and years ago, he made a promise to all of his much younger cousins that he would take them on a trip when they graduated from high school. Generous, right? He took the first group of five cousins to Ireland a few years ago and this year, we combined our trip to Italy with DG1 and 2. I have to confess here that I really don't get the girls' lack of enthusiasm. If a cousin were giving me an all-expense paid trip to Italy, I can't imagine pooping out 20 minutes into the first town on the Tuscany itinerary. DB is a bigger person than I. He would give you the shirt off his back, and if you were tired a mere 100 yards from the top of Everest, he would turn the sherpas around. I just goggled at the girls and said, "How about ya'll sleep in the car on the way to San Gimignano?" The girls didn't appreciate my suggestion. After some more half-hearted sightseeing in Volterra, we drove back to Florence by way of San Gimignano, though we never got out of the car. Yeah. Bummer, right?
I ooooohed and ahhed from the car to try to regain some of my own enthusiasm. On the bright side, it did start to rain after we left San G and so it wasn't so tragic that we were returning to Florence so early. We were now pros at the ZTL thing and returned the car with no problem.
I walked DB and the girls to the apartment, and then set out alone for another two hour walk around town, stopping into shops and churches along the way. At dinnertime, I met them at the apartment and we headed out to dinner. Since everyone was tired, we basically fell out of the apartment again and ate at i'Lorenzaccio, a trattoria right outside our apartment. This time, we ordered the quatro fromaggio pizza, insalata misti for three, bruschetta, lasagna for DB, fettucini alfredo with salmone for DG2, and vegetable pizza for DG1. A full liter of wine, a €109 bill, and we're ready for gelato.
Mint for me, mint and cioccolatto for DG1, mango for DG2, and DB tried to get fancy and order vanilla with some fresh strawberries. However, apparently they only sell strawberries by the pound, so what he actually got was a pint of stawberries and a small scoop of vanilla on top. It cost like €10. He had forty strawberries left over. We ate some of them for breakfast:)
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