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Published: July 12th 2011
Monday 4th July
We said our goodbyes to our friends who were over for the MotoGP and hit the autostrade to get to Tuscany as quick as possible. At 9am it was already roasting hot. I did start to worry as we made it to Tuscany and there were lots of industrial areas.....but after turning on to the main road for Castellina in Chianti the rolling Tuscan hills open up in front of us. Vineyards and olive groves as far as the eye can see with rustic farmhouses dotted everywhere. We had made it to Chianti Country - Heaven! Italians have a style of accommodation called Agritourismo. Were you can rent a room or an apartment on a working farm. Ours was an olive farm. They also made salami from local wide boars. We didn't get lost once today, even though the tiny road off the main road for Agritourismo San Silvestro did suddenly appear much sooner than we thought. We wished we had a dirt bike to get up to the farm instead of our very heavy kawasaki 1200 or a giant 4x4 would have been nice. The farm owners Gianna and Aldo couldn't have been friendlier and the place was beautiful. We were shown to a tiny 2 room apartment which was perfect, given a basket of farm goodies - homemade cherry chutney, a cucumber, 5 eggs for free and then 3 bottles of wine of varying quality and cost. We unpacked all the luggage and asked where the nearest supermarket was. One week in the same place means we can get in food and drink that will last. Then the Italian road signs struck again, we knew we had had it too easy getting to the accom for this week. "Coop is this way" no matter you need to negotiate a massive one way system with no other signs - it was in that direction and up to us to find after that. After loading up the tardis of a tank bag and the side panirs we then had to figure out how to get out of Tavernelle. We later found out it was pretty much the opposite direction to the signpost?! During dinner a little white westie came to visit, as we were herding him out of the apartment, the farm owners where there asking "it isn't yours?" Nope, impossible on our bike and rather rude of us to have turned up with a dog without telling them. They found out it was the farm down the road's dog and took it back. Gianna then took all our washing and did it for us....at a fiver a wash. Bargain when all we had was cold water to wash the sweat out of our clothes - not very effective by week 3. In the middle of the night Gary was woken by lights in the room....no we weren't being burgled or murdered in some spooky farm horror movie.....it was fireflys in the room!! How cool! Neither of us have ever seen a firefly before.
Tuesday 5th July
After a lovely lie in we got up and had a slow breakfast, followed by a slow stroll to the pool, followed by a slow day lounging at the pool with a long lunch of spag bol and salad, followed by more lounging by the pool and a couple of lilo wars thrown in for good measure, followed by a snooze by the pool, followed by a picnic dinner of meats and cheeses and a read before bed. Bliss. Oh, I nearly forgot, we had to watch the sun set over the rolling Tuscan hills while drinking a another bottle of local Chianti.
Wednesday 6th July
Neither of us slept very well but yesterdays lazing worked well enough to wake up feeling very refreshed and ready for action. Time to make the trek across to Pisa to take the famous photo. We took the little roads rather than the autostrades and managed to get lost several more times. We saw most of Tuscany this morning and the lunch we intended to have in Pisa, we had in a little roadside cafe not even half way there. Finally in Pisa, you'd think they'd have lots of signs to their famous leaning tower. We saw one sign on the outskirts of town pointing towards the town centre and then no more signs until we had seen most of the cities suburbs and the centre a couple of times and then came across a crowd of people. Looked to see what they were up to and we were right next to the leaning tower. Oop - there it is! Being on a bike in Italy is horrible and hot and not the best idea in summer but it does have its advantages. Bikes and scooters in Italy get free parking. Some are marked bays next to paying car spaces teehee and others you just leave your bike on the sidewalk. We parked right at the gate for free when lots of parking lots were charging a tenner. Nice 😊 we took the famous photos and left. On the way home we stocked up at a supermarket and stocked up, including a map of all the piddly little roads we had gotten lost down on the way here and a lilo to replace the one we broke during yesterdays lilo wars. Home at last! Yay! How hot was today?! We were dripping. A quick shower, a cold beer and a jump in the pool. Its getting hotter and hotter by the day and less enjoyable to ride and sight-see in. Today, Lucy had her first insect in leathers experience. Not fun. 3 stings up her left arm to prove it.
Thursday 7th July
Another lie in, then a trip down to the nearest town San Donato in Poggio to find next weeks accommodation at the internet point and update the blog, email etc. San Donato was such a quaint old town centre. You got the impression that the inhabitants had all lived in the houses their whole lives. If we could find anywhere this quaint at home to live we would jump at the chance! The woman in the internet shop had a voice that could saw through your bones, we couldn't think let alone type. We sent off a few quick emails to places asking if they had space next week, abandoned the blog and ran before our paid time was up. Back to the farm for more chilling by the pool. In our little apartment we have a water system that squeaks at us when people turn taps on and off. Its like it says good morning and good night. There is a ropey old cockerel somewhere on the farm that doesn't quite managed a full crow and each time it does crow you get the impression it might be its last. The farms dog is a bit of a pansy. Every evening the swifts come out to eat the bugs. The swifts seem to be an all over Italy thing so far. Here they cheat somewhat and swoop down to get the drowned bugs in the pool. We haven't seen the fireflys since the first night. There are some French-Canadians staying in the main barn conversion who don't seem up for any kind of conversation what so ever. Shame.
Friday 8th July
Today we headed out to explore the other nearest town, Castellina in Chianti. Another cute town centre. We found the internet point....nice and quiet and peaceful. We got so much more done. Sent more emails off to more campsites and hostels. Not having much luck so far, sent emails and updated the blog. We left town just before lunch. The afternoons are noticeably hotter than the mornings and the pizzarias were staring to smell expensively enticing. The Canadian lot kept us entertained this afternoon with a game of Marco Polo in the pool with much cheating going on. Teehee. Last nights attempts to keep cool with the windows open and citronella candles on didn't work and we were bitten to pieces. Tonight we had the windows ajar with the smoke candles just outside so none could get in. It worked well but we did wake up feeling like we had been in a bonfire.
Saturday 9th July
We woke up early to go find the market Lucy had found in one of the books but could we find any reference to it in any of the books again - no! We tried Castellina as we saw a sign for a Saturday market there. There was a small market with lots of veg stalls and clothes that weren't that bad - certainly better than the clothes on the markets at home. Then we thought we would try Greve in Chianti as it rung a bell. Bingo! We found the right place after all. A massive market which closed off streets. We struggled to only buy some olives and not 10 dresses for Lucy, more veg than we could eat, lots of tools we couldn't carry for the bike etc. Good market, but hot again! So very hot. Not looking forward to all the sightseeing and riding in the heat after this week is over. Tonight was BBQ night. Finally after a week of hankering after a BBQ since the MotoGP we have ours. Mmmm charcoaly goodness.
Sunday 10th July
Gary tightened the bike chain with the tools we bought yesterday. Then we headed for the pool again. Our little mate was down there, the westie. He followed Gary up to the apartment when he went to get more water and Gianna told him that all the males dogs are sniffing round coz her dog is in heat. We tried to decide whether to go to the local osteria for lunch. We have plenty of food and shouldn't really. We will just have to come back next year. This is one place we definitely would come back to and hopefully bring friends and stay in the main apartments not just the 2 man. When we headed back for lunch Gianna came and found us with a big bowl of a local Tuscan food that she had made. "Panzanella" Its a dish of all the dried bread (it really goes dry quick here!) And tomato, red onion, cucumber, mini basil, spring onion and some very soft olive oil to help bind the breadcrumbs and the veg together with just a dash of balsamic vinegar for a hint of taste. YUM!! last afternoon by the pool, last sunset with a bottle of wine. Lovely way to end the week in Tuscany.
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