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Published: April 19th 2016
Dateline: Pienza, Italy
April 15 Rome to Pienza
Wow, what a day! We scheduled our private driver to pick us up at the cruise ship at 9:00. So, planners that we are, we started off the ship at 8:00 to give us plenty of time to go through customs and immigration, but we forgot….we are now on Italian time and this is ITALY. There was no customs or immigration procedure; we just walked off the ship with our carry on’s, collected our luggage (that we had put outside of our cabin at 10:30 the night before) in the cruise ship terminal (also known as a large tent), and were standing outside the terminal looking for our driver by 8:15. Couldn’t believe there was no customs or checking of passports or anything! On the other hand it was nice.
Outside the cruise terminal building, there were lots of private drivers and tour guides holding up pieces of paper with names on them. We looked diligently for our name for about an hour and a half before we began to suspect there may be a problem….hummm…..so we decided we better investigate! Since we do not have a telephone that works
out of the US, I wandered around and finally found a cruise ship person who, after describing our problem, called our friend, Claudia, in Pienza, on her phone and asked her to call our driver, Angelo, to see where the mix up might be. Sure enough, we had not read the email from him carefully enough….he was meeting us outside
the cruise port. So we carted our stuff about a hundred yards to the shuttle that would take us out of the dock area. Gathered our stuff from under the bus and began a short trek to the gate where lo and behold, there was Angelo standing with a sign that said “Jean Petty”. We were sure glad to have found him, but a little embarrassed that he had to wait so long for us. Angelo of course, said, “no problem”. The port is an hour north of Rome so we will not see Rome on this trip.
Driving through the Italian country side, we pass through several provinces to get to Toscana (Tuscany) where Pienza, a UNESCO world heritage site, that is to be our home for the next three weeks. Lots of small farms, vineyards, olive orchards,
vegetable gardens, and rolling green hills. We passed Lake Bolsena which, surprisingly did not have any development or houses around it. Angelo said it was a natural, spring fed lake. The farming was much more advanced than we saw in Asia last year, with lots of mechanized equipment used to cultivate the fields and orchards. Evidently there is lots of grain grown in the area; now that wasn’t surprising with all the pasta consumed here ;-) We passed fields of potatoes, artichokes, lettuce, tomatoes and lots and lots of olive trees…not a surprise…we are in Italy!
When we arrived in Pienza, our friend Claudia met us at Largo Roma, a dropping off point. We each grabbed some bags and walked down the narrow alleyway to our home on Via della Rosa. Adriana (the keeper of the keys) met us. We have a charming Italian one bedroom, one bath apartment up a very steep flight of stairs. Adriana spoke no English, but tried to give us instructions by pointing about the heat, using the kitchen, and how the bathroom worked. We didn’t understand much, but fortunately Claudia was able to translate much of what she said. Unfortunately, we did not
listen closely enough about how to turn on the heat! Although it was a beautiful warm day in the sun outside, the thick walls of the building built in 1500’s retained the cool from the night before, so we were, and still are (smiles) a little chilly!
The apartment has 16 foot ceilings, very tall furniture, and storage in 10 foot high closets. We have windows on two sides and one side is the main street of Pienza, so as we open our shutters during the day, we hear music and people talking as they wander around looking in all the little shops. The other side of the apartment has a bedroom and bathroom window looking down a narrow street. Everything is so compact and it is all pedestrian traffic, very few cars drive among the old buildings except for deliveries and the Carabinieri (police). We throw our stuff on the bed and head out with Claudia for lunch in the sun ;-) We are here ;-)
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