Thursday May 12th, 2011
Tuscany Hill Towns
We are living under the Tuscan sun and enjoying every minute of it. After leaving Rome we took the train back to Civitavecchia and I rented a car for 18 days. The Avis office is about four blocks from where we will catch our next ship, very convenient. After that we have spent the last four days touring through the Hills of Tuscany. Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza and a really cute small town called Murlo have all been dramatic and exciting. We have walked up and down the cobblestone streets with every turn yielding something interesting, quaint and unique. The shops are filled with all the meats, cheeses and wines that this region is famous for. I met a cantankerous old shop keeper who had a very extensive wine inventory in the castle town of Montalcino. He had an elaborate wine vintage chart with a star rating system from one to five stars. He said that only wines with a rating of one or two stars are exported to America and they keep all the good stuff for consumption in Europe. I don’t know if I believe that completely, but I have tasted
many wines here that I have never seen in the states and it is difficult to find something that is not really good. When we eat in the little cafes’ and ristorantes we order the vino della casa (cheap house wine in a carafe or bottle) and have not been disappointed. We have visited a couple of Terme (natural heated springs) that the Romans had built resorts around. Near the Terme of Petrolo we found a little out of the way ristorante with an excellent bottle of house red wine for 5 Euros and the food was really fabulous. Last night we stayed in the medieval walled city of Lucca. We walked into the old part of town and ate at a nice little upscale outdoor café’. Jane had duck a la orange, I had rabbit and Laurie had spaghetti. Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin songs were playing in the background. They also had somebody singing Beatles songs in Italian. It was sort of surreal, but the service was excellent and the food was prepared and presented with an artistic flourish.
This morning Jane and I hope to hike completely around the ramparts of this walled city of Lucca. It
is supposed to be the only fully intact fortification system in Italy. The walls are about 50 feet thick and the hike completely around the city is two and a half miles. They have a nice walking and biking trail that runs right along the top of the ramparts and looks out over the newer parts of the city. We have been doing some serious walking and I hope we will be pleasantly surprised when we can weigh onboard the Ocean Princess in a couple of weeks.
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