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Report 679: A Student in Florence

By colleenk from MA, Spring 2004

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Page 14 of 16: A Slow Traveler's Trip to the Tuscan Countryside

photo by Colleen K

SlowTrav GTG

Sunday, May 9, 2004

And A Farewell to Firenze.

Today is a day I had been looking forward to since it was first planned with fellow Slow Travelers from the Slow Travel message board several months ago. Joanna, who is currently restoring a house she bought in Castiglione d'Orcia last year and plans on living in Italy full time next spring, choose our meeting place. See her blog "The View from Il Loggino" for more details and lovely pictures. Her sister, family and a friend who were visiting from Australia and helping her with the house were also part of our party. Carol (who had studied at the Koine school in Lucca and had encouraging words for me in my endeavor) and her charming husband John generously offered to pick Marian and me up in Chiusi, were the other members of this lively party.

I met Marian at the train at 8:20am to catch the 8:42 Intercity train to Chiusi. Buying tickets from the automated machine was painless (English option) and convenient (credit cards readily accepted and there is a place to stamp your ticket). The ride to Chiusi was scenic and took about an hour.

After a quick cappuccino break near the station, we took a taxi to the Centro to visit the pretty Duomo and Museo Archeologico that was about 5 kilometers or so from the train station. Lots of interesting Etruscan artifacts and history to take in. Walking around the Duomo area, we ran into some marching children in colorful costumes. Gotta love Italy, it seems most days are celebrations of some sort. We swung by the tourist information office to see where we might find a taxi to take us back to the station to catch our ride with Carol and John who were coming from Umbria for our Slow Travel lunch. A helpful information person called a taxi for us.

Carol and John soon arrived and we drove scenic country roads to meet the rest of our party at the beautiful La Rosa del Trinoro Restaurant in Sarteano. John warned us that he was a fast driver and hoped it wouldn’t make us nervous, but I live in the Boston area (John had also in the past), well known for its less than moderate drivers, so it didn’t faze me. We found the restaurant without much trouble and met up with Joanna et all.

This was just a fabulous restaurant in a very lovely setting. After a pre-lunch glass of wine, we were seated at two tables for one of the best meals of my trip. I don’t recall all the details, but there were complimentary antipasti (a shrimp in a drinkable broth that was delicious), wonderful pasta dishes and palate cleaning sorbets. Some of the group had the set menu that looked wonderful and got great reviews. I had a roasted pork chop with garlic-mashed potatoes that was yummy. I think we shared some terrific deserts and of course had our share of wine. The service was terrific and the waiters were very funny and accommodating. Carol, Joanna, Marian, Joanna’s friend from Australia and myself sat at the same table. Lots of laughter and sharing Italian experiences as well as indulging in a little Slowtalk message board gossip! It was such a fun day in such a beautiful setting. A truly great way to spend my last day in Tuscany.

After our goodbyes, Carol and John dropped us back off at the train station in Chiusi. We lucked out and caught a train back to Florence within 15 minutes. By the time we reached Florence, it was early evening - my last in Florence! I wished Marian well in her studies at the Koine school and her stay in Florence and returned to my room to begin packing for the trip home. Of course I had too much stuff and ended up leaving some books and toiletries behind to lighten my load. I bubble wrapped all my breakable items. My bag was so tightly packed that there really wasn’t any room for the wine or olive oil to move so I thought they should be all right.

Claudio, my host at the B&B arranged for an early morning taxi. I already had my ticket to Rome but I am always nervous on departure days and like to leave plenty of time for mishaps. My train was at 6:40am leaving plenty of time to catch the Leonardo Express to FCO and check in for my 11:55am AA flight to Boston via London.

Having had such a large and long lunch, I really wasn’t hungry for dinner, so ended up just having a gelato instead. I took one last stroll down Via Roma to Ponte Vecchio to shoot some last pictures in Firenze’s twilight. It seemed hard to believe that I had been here 17 days! But all good things must come to an end so I said my goodbyes to this beautiful city and promised myself I would be back.

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