Tuscany

9 days in the Tuscany region of Italy and it was bellissimo. We stayed at a farm house in the Le Catese area in the city of Sesto Fiorentino, which is just outside of Florence. The farmhouse was great. Originally built in the 1400’s, some of the granite stone and wood beams are original. The host family ( mother, father[in 60s] 2 adult children[in 20s]and one of their spouses-the son was a mechanical engineer and the daughter was a pharmacist.) were in 2 other parts of the structure and it had been in their family for many generations. They had many olive trees and grape vines and made their own olive oil and “farmer wine” for personal consumption. Chickens, geese, ducks and a donkey. A huge garden of too many vegetables to name along with a half dozen different fruit trees and lavender. They rarely ate out as they had so much food they produced. Their biggest issues with being farmers were the government regulations, wolves(protected) eating their livestock and wild feral pigs tearing up the produce.  We had what was in season- fresh eggs, edamame, peas, onion, lemons, olive oil, wine, vinegar, home made pasta sauce, ( I may not have remembered all). We were their first American guests as you had to have a car to get to them. Florence altitude is 164 ft. We were at 1122 feet. The road up here was 2 lanes but was only wide enough for 1 car in many places, like all the switchbacks. One spot had no more than 2 inches clearance between 2 granite structures ( a country church and stone wall) on each side of my Hertz rental car.  A short train ride from the town below and we were in Florence. Day Trips to Cinque Terra and other old Tuscan villages were great. Beautiful weather all week. Windows open at night and you got cool. No humidity and no bugs. Out in the sun was warm. In the shade with the breeze and you’re cool. The 4 K hike we made at Cinque Terra ( 5 villages on the coast) was a hump. The two easy 1 K hikes with limited elavation change were closed due to mud slides in 2016. Straight up (~550 feet) and then across with some switchbacks and then straight down between 2 villages on the coast (VERNAZZA – CORNIGLIA) . What beautiful picturesque views but Beth’s 2 artificial hips were screaming at her when we finished. Food was great when we ate out but we ate in a lot. Lots of pasta, olive oil, cheese, and bread. We even cooked out on the grill one night ( steak, pork, lamb and sausage). On to Bucharest Romania for a week or so.another beautiful view from our patioThe geese at the houseOur hostess, Elisabetta- one tough farm girlour hostess’ daughter- the pharmacistour hostess’ son with a fresh bowl of cherries- right off the treethe grill master- note the charcoal is hunks of twigs (strange)cool patterned anole with part of a tailgrilling some meatnarrow gap in road to farmview of town (Sesto) from the farmone vegetable gardeninitial gift from hostessview of our living room another garden viewthe farm donkeynote grape vines all around one of the gardenschickensfront of farm housewandering geese and lots of olive treesolive oil pressesanother garden picfarm ducksmorning shot from path on the property
Church of Santa Croceoverlooking FlorenceThe Ponte Vecchio (“Old Bridge”, is a medieval stone bridge over the Arno River, in Florence,Michelangelo plazatypical Tuscan countryside The  “Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower”) is the main church of Florence, Italy. It was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style one of several food markets in Florencerestaurant right down the street from the farm- always very crowded- except when we show up at opening time- 7:30- we are such blue hairsfeast from the restaurant down the streetdessert for 2 before we devoured ithike along coast between villagesthe closed 1K easy walk!!!the start of the hikeview along the hikeand anotherand another- with another village in backgroundwowhalf way pointsome of the steep stepsvillage at end of hike- VernazzaVernazzawine tasting in the Chianti region- we didn’t drink all those glasses- just moststatue of  Michelangelo “David” in Florence- He was going to do a Goliath one too but they couldn’t find a block of marble that big

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