Claudia and Jean
Hello from the beautiful Tuscan Hills. Many of you have read "Under the Tuscan Sun" and other books telling of the beauty of Tuscany and we are here to tell you it all true.
We left Florence by train, 3 days ago for the 2 hour ride to Chiusi, Italy. With only a little confusion we found the Hertz office ( thank you Alison ;-) and a charming young man checked us in, gave us our keys to an "upgraded" car, and sent us back to the train station (or rather the post office next to it) to find our car. Armed with a license plate number we immediately went into the wrong parking lot but soon realized our mistake and backtracked around the fence to the train station and into the adjoining post office lot. Of course our car was just about the last one in line but we were grateful to get out of the sun and throw our bags in the back end of a Peugeot station wagon... with AIR CONDITIONING!!! (Cope was VERY happy). I was the driver for this portion of the trip so got behind the wheel and guess what...of course... stick shift. It's
been awhile but thankfully I know how to shift ;-) So with Cope navigating we were off through the Tuscan hills to Pienza.
Our friend Claudia met us in town at the gas station where we left the car and headed across the street to the grocery store to stock up for the week. Ah the cheeses, hams, olives, bread! Heaven. Then off to Claudia and Gary's for a wonderful Tuscan lunch under the trees.
Later in the afternoon, they showed us the way to Cretaiole, take a look... www.Cretaiole.it and our home for the week.
6:30 am Monday morning we were off to a 3 mile, 9000 step hike up and down and Tuscan Hills with our guide Gary and his wife, Claudia (friends of ours) along with some guests from Australia. Over the next 3 hours we saw beautiful countryside and learned a lot of history of the Val d'Orcia.
Tuesday it rained a soft beautiful rain and we spent the day, reading and napping and at 8pm we joined all the others who were staying at Cretaiole (about 20 people) for a wonderful Tuscan dinner by candlelight. By 10:15 it was almost time
This was an ancient well along our morning walk.
for dessert but it was way past our bedtime so we left. The next morning we found that the ladies that cooked our dinner had left us dessert in our apartment ;-)
Today we were off with our friend Claudia to do errands. We needed some new train tickets, some allergy medicine from the pharmacy, and an ATM to get some more Euros (of course). Claudia then took us to Monticchiello, a tiny tuscan village where we ate lunch at a fabulous little restaurant, La Porta (www.osterialaporta.it/osteria.en.php), where we had the most wonderful salad, ravioli with truffles, vegetable souffle and gnocchi with pecorino cheese and spinach...yum!
We are having a great time and wish we could share more than pictures with you. Saturday morning we will take the car back to Chiusi, Italy and hop the train for Venice. We'll overnight there before taking the bus to Villach, Austria and the train on to Salzburg. Ciao, Italy!
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