We've been so busy bustling around and with the shorter train rides that I haven't much updated you on our geographics. Since last mentioning location (on our way to Siena, I believe) lots has happened - and it happened in the following order :
We got on (and paid) for a train to Siena and ended up in Florence. Since we'd made it that far without fine, we jumped off the train and stayed. Unfortunately, our first impression of Florence was spoiled. We had no preparation for the city - I read up about Siena, not Florence - and followed the advice of some friendly German tourist to Pensione Canada. We found the place and it seemed clean enough and the right price, but after Vince had paid I remembered to ask, "in the morning can you hold our bags?". The woman firmly said no, and as she went to the back, vince ran out the door to find a hotel that would. Leaving me with the worst and meanest italian in the country. She came back out and told me that the money Vince gave was a binding contract and proceeded to drag MY BAGS into the assigned room. She left little room for disagreement and I found myself sucking back tears while waiting for vince to get back. He came back, proud smile across his face, with another cheaper room (breakfast included, willing to hold bags) waiting for us. Long story made a little shorter, vince was not pleased with our situation. He sat down at the front desk and proceeded to tell the woman what he thought. After twenty minutes of back and forth, the woman says, "I do not like this cinema". She nearly threw our money and did throw our passports back at us and we left. Word to the wise, (or those still reading this lengthy story) when staying in Florence, avoid Pensione Canada at all costs. May be clean, but hands down the worst service around.
Other than this wretched experience, Florence was ok. Boticelli paintings were outstanding, Ponte Vecchio beautiful and we ate our best meal yet: artichoke pasta and rack of lamb.
Next was Siena. Siena is much more our type of town. Much smaller than Florence, less hustling & more friendly faces. We stayed the first night in a basic place, but the bathroom smelled like a pee drenched alleyway. So we spent our second night at Albergo Bernini, which in my book is the best place we've stayed yet. Beyond friendly and helpful service and added bonus : usable kitchen and terrace with views. We did less sightseeing in Siena, more wine drinking terrace lounging. Happiness ensued.
Next we rented a car and sped (italian style - Vince is italian, you know) through small country towns into Montepulciano, a hilltop tuscan town that is known for it's Nobile wine. We stayed on a farm and had a perfectly relaxed time under the tuscan sun. One night we stayed and had dinner made by Mama accompanied by home made wine. The food was glorious - cheese and salami plate, picci pasta bolognese (all homemade, of course), and chicken (from the farm) flavored with fresh pig lard. Lastly for dessert, Vin Santo, also homemade, sweet wine.
After two days of blissful countryside we left for Rome. I'll save that entry for later.
Now, you are all caught up! Heavy sigh of relief, this blog entry is over!!
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