Tracy Lebel


Tracy Lebel

I originally started this blog for a year we spent in Quebec. This trip to Italy my son will be doing the blog posts. Alternating in French and English for school. enjoy!

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Montepulciano October 9th 2011

Sunday, Oct 9 Montepulciano Today was our first day of exploring from our Umbrian base. Actually we learned today that we are actually right on the border between Tuscany and Umbria. The border skirts around Lake Chiusi and we are just off the lake so probably barely inside Umbria. We have had several busy days so this morning we had a relaxed morning at the apartment and finally left for Montepulciano close to noon. Today was our first cold day. It was about +10 but very windy, mostly cloudy and it rained a little bit on and off. It was our first day to wear socks, long pants and jackets. Montepulciano is back in Tuscany about 40 min away. I had wanted to visit it as one of the books I had read based in Tuscany ... read more
another church
using a wifi spot to connect to home
palace on town square

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Montalcino October 8th 2011

Saturday, Oct 8 Leaving San Gimignano Today was our day to leave Poggiacolle. We spent quite a bit of time visiting with Stefano this morning. He is such a super guy. We have to return to his farm to see how it changes over the years. He has many plans. From there we went briefly into San Gimignano to get some souvenirs that we wanted. Then it was off to Montalcino. We arrived in Montalcino at around 2 pm. It gave us 2 hours to wander the small town before we had to leave to meet our host at the next Agroturismo. Montalcino is a pretty standard old Tuscan city, like many of the others. It is famous for Brunello wines – the reason for us stopping. We picked out a trio of wines – a ... read more
city hall
roman sculpture in Montalcino
neat door

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Gaiole in Chianti October 8th 2011

Tuesday, Oct 4 Chianti Region Today was our day to explore the Chianti region and visit a couple of wineries. The Chianti area is kind of the quintiessential “Tuscan” area. It was a favourite of Britich visitors who started buying up cheap places back in the sixties. There are no cheap places anymore, but it is still very popular with tourists, especially wine lovers. The valleys are filled with vineyards and olive groves. I was surprised at how much forest was actually in the area. There is probably more forest than vineyards. The road is incredibly windy. In many areas the trees actually meet over the road and there are often walls on one side and drop offs on the other. It is very narrow. Claude loved driving the roads. He was very skilled at driving ... read more
The medieval tower where the museum was
Inside the private chapel at the castle
Lion on the wall

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » San Gimignano October 7th 2011

Friday, October-07-11 Exploring the area around San Gimignano Today the weather turned. It was much cooler and the wind was blowing like a hurricane. I needed to wash clothes and had to bring most of them inside to dry in the apartment as I was afraid they would blow to the neighbours. We got a bit of rain on and off today but never enough to affect us. We did confirm a place to stay for Saturday. We will be at another agroturismo west of Perugia,right on the border with Tuscany. That was a relief. We have been trying to mail postcards home for several days, but everytime we find a post office it is closed for the day. They all seem to close between noon and 1pm. Today we made sure to go into town ... read more
outer walls to enterColle val d'Elsa
you can see where the moat use to be around the city walls
entering another part of old Colle val d'Elsa

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Bibbona October 6th 2011

Thursday, Oct 6th Trip to the Sea Today was supposed to be the last warm day, so we decided to head out to the sea. Stefano recommended a few places to visit. We headed west past Volterra and stopped in the small town of Bolgheri. Leaving town towards the sea on either side of the main road is a line of huge cypress trees. It is what the town is famous for, as well as for Bolgheri wine. Very pretty. We then arrived at the seaside town of Marina di Bibbona. It was a large resort area that was mostly shut down for the winter (today was still really hot, over 25 degrees). It appeared to be more of a resort town for local Tuscans than tourists. We had a lunch in a little restaurant on ... read more
At the beach in Maritina di Bibbonia
A beach is pretty much the same everywhere
Claude in the Meditteranean

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » San Gimignano October 5th 2011

Wednesday, October 5 San Gimignano We had a leisurely morning at the farm. We walked through the vineyards and olive groves. We also walked around the other older home on the property. It was built in the 1300s. It is in pretty bad shape but his 92 year grandma lives there. He said it will stay as is until she is no longer there and after that he will restore it. Probably for his home and a few apartments. It is still in the traditional style with the living area on the second floor and farm storage (and originally animals) on the lower level. We headed into town mid afternoon as we had a very special afternoon ahead of us. Stefano had arranged for us to join 2 other couples for an afternoon and evening of ... read more
An old wine flask
Collection of the old large wine bottles
Olives ripening on the vines

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Volterra October 3rd 2011

Monday, October 3 Volterra Today we drove to Volterra, about 40 min. It is closer to the ocean in a very dry area. The tilled fields were large clumps of very dry clay, or parched grasses. Volterra is up really high in the hills, atop a huge cliff. When we walked part way along the wall, we met an older couple enjoying the view and he told Claude in Italian that on a clear day you can see to infinity and to the ocean. Volterrra has a few less tourists than San Gimignano. Again the medieval streets were narrow and twisty. It is a famous Etruscan town (Etruscans controlled Tuscany before the Romans a couple hundred years BC), so we went to see an Etruscan Acropolis excavation site on the perimeter of the walls, and also ... read more
Neat old church just sandwiched between 2 other buildings on the side street
Side street in Volterra
Etruscan Acropolis excavation

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » San Gimignano October 2nd 2011

Sunday Oct 2 San Gimignano Today we decided to walk from the apartment (farm) into San Gimignano. It was about a ½ hr walk in. You start on the hill of the farm, down into the valley and then back up the hill on the other side to get to the base of the town, then up into the town. My legs will be in better shape by the time we leave here with all the climbing! It was another 30 degree day so by the time we walked into town in the sun I was pouring sweat even if it was only 10:30 am. San Gimignano is a really neat city. It is popular with tourists so fairly busy, but even within the wall of the city, you could wander down side streets with no ... read more
grapes on the walk to town
town hall and the Torre Grossa (biggest tower)
more towers on the main square

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » San Gimignano October 1st 2011

Today was our day to check out of our hotel and head to the country. However check out time wasn’t until noon so we planned to get up early, have breakfast and then be at the Duomo well ahead of the 10 am opening time so we could tour the dome before it got to busy. Then we would visit the 2 market areas again before heading out. Well, that was a good plan. However it appears the time change was still affecting us as we slept in - until 11:30!!!! Claude has never slept that long in his life! So, by that point we only had time to pack and check out. No breakfast, no Duomo. We had quite a chuckle about it. I had woken up a few times but since Claude was still ... read more
Relaxing in the pool with San Gimignano in the background
Claude cooking in our kitchen
Our table set for dinner's first course.

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence September 30th 2011

Sept 29: Our only full day in Florence. We headed out from the hotel and wandered through afew streets and the San Lorenzo leather market before arriving at the Duomo (the giant Cathedral in town). We had been going to visit the Duomo and the famous Brunelleschi’s Dome on the end of it, but there was already a line up so we decided to climb the church bell tower instead – the Campanille. It was started in 1344 by Giotto. It is 84 m high and 414 steps to the top. A very long ways on a hot day!! But we made it and the view was spectacular; Both of the Duomo and the dome and also of the rest of the city. By the time we came down the line ups were even longer so ... read more
view of the Dome of the Duomo from the bell tower
Bronze doors of the Duomo baptistery
Marble front of the Duomo

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