From Buon Convento we moved on to our stay for the night at a farm. Podere Il Casale. We had read about this sosta/farm on the internet and many travellers had recommended it saying that it was a quiet stopover with fabulous views of Monte Amiata and the wonderful Tuscan countryside. The rain started to come in and the sky darkened as we pointed Suzy in the direction of the farm. We were hoping for a couple of restful days doing nothing much. And hereby hangs a tail.
We skirted Pienza and found the grey road which led to the farm. A grey road in Italy is an unmade road made up of limestone which is dusty in the dry and becomes a mud bath in the wet. We had often travelled up them and they were potholed and in need of a bit of attention from the boys from the black stuff. Today it was a mud bath and Suzy became covered in a grey gunge which stuck to her like glue. . She would need a clean when we arrived. We drove on and arrived at the Podere at the end of the lane.
The farm looked
It is there somewhere
dog rough and very scruffy, not a bit like the descriptions on Trip Adviser or on blogs that we had read. . One side of the road was lined with old and decrepit looking farm machinery looking as if it had not been used for years and deserved to be in an agricultural museum. On the other side a big blue bus used to house the farm workers. We had read that the farm was organic and labour intensive therefore they needed the free labour that they got from taking on young kids who wanted to learn how to farm organically.
We parked up and walked to reception. We felt a little ignored as a group of Americans had turned up and they seemed to hold more attention that we did. Eventually we were told to park on the hard standing outside the restaurant or alongside the road. Neither spot were particularly nice and cars were parked everywhere. There wasnt that much room for Suzy and none of the designated spots we had expected. It seemed a free for all. . Then a lady came out and told us to park on the grass above the farm. This we
did - big mistake - the rain was pouring down, the grass was wet through and the ground soggy. Suzy being rather heavy sank in the mud and nothing we could do would move her. We tried gently driving out - a bit at a time and nothing happened. . We tried coaxing her using some plastic treads which should have aided us in snow, mud or flood. However nothing worked and the more we tried the deeper the ruts became and the harder it became to get out. We were digging ourselves a hole.
I walked over to the farm, complained and asked for help. It would come but we would have to wait for 10 minutes until the farm worker came back in the van. He had taken someone somewhere or at least that what it sounded like. He would then pull us out and onto dry ground. 15 minutes went by and nothing happened. Back I walked as we were getting wetter and wetter and Suzy was sinking deeper. It does nothing for your temper to find yourselves stuck and very wet. He still wasn’t back. Eventually he did arrive and brought his Toyota Hiace to
try to get us out of the mire. He attached a long tow rope and tried to pull us out. Unfortunately the rope broke and we were still bogged down. Next he tried a caterpillar tractor. The rope broke and he had to start again. After one hour he got us out and we were on solid ground. Although we had moved from our hole we really felt like moving on. What you need at this time is a warm hot bath, a better welcome and a good spot for the night. Podere Il Casale did not deliver on any of those. .
We stayed in the end as there was nowhere else to go in the rain. We spent half an hour cleaning the muck and mud off Suzy and decided we both needed showers. The showers however were pretty awful. Dark, gloomy and by far the worse we had ever seen. We had intended to stay two days but changed our minds. It wasn’t a particularly nice place and nothing like the descriptions we had read.
We had a wander around the farm, it was full of peacocks, hens, braying donkeys and pigs. Everything looked shabby. We spoke to a German couple from Munich who were staying for a few days. They too had been sent up to the grassy area and had trouble getting off. They seemed to be happy with the untidy state of the farm. They discussed the cost of staying which was 6euros for the placement which wasnt bad but another 10 euros each for us. Rather expensive for a site with no facilities at all.
We had booked an evening meal and this was an interesting affair. The restaurant was dark and gloomy with two large tables, a Wurlitzer and a socket game. One table was full of the workers eating their evening meal laughing and joking. They even had children with them and the place had an appearance of a commune, a hippy camp or a kibbutz. Our table consisted of us, an American lady from New York and a lady from Zurich who sculpted in bronze. We had an interesting conversation with them and it turned out they were both divorced, one retired and they both lived in Italy. They planned to go to La Foce the gardens tomorrow too. Our meal which cost 18 euros each plus wine was strange and certainly not one of the best we have ever eaten. We started with wine made on the farm which was very nice. this was followed by goats cheese, both plain and heavily spiced again made on the farm. We ate heavy brown bread made from the home grown wheat , chick peas and courgettes all made or grown on the farm. The second course was pasta made from wheat from the farm and cooked in a very tasty sauce . Third course pork raised on the farm and a small amount of roasted potatoes. All served on one plate using one fork and knife. Very economical with the washing up. By this time our hostess came to apologise for looking after her cookery class and neglecting us. She explained that her children had moved away , one training to be a plumber, another to work in Switzerland rather than stay on the farm. It seems the same the world over the young want to move on. Pudding arrived a strange piece of cake chocolate and orangenot to our liking . We finished with two cups of espresso and then left to go to bed.
The rain eventually cleared and we got our view of Monte Amiato and it is beautiful and on a good day the views from the Podere are typically Tuscan.
Would we go again to a Podere - well yes we would but not to this one.
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