So much has been written about the Tuscany area of Italy that we were a bit skeptical and wondered whether it would meet our expectations … WRONG! It is as wonderful as it has been described by our friends and family, in books and movies over many years. Certainly it is not for everyone. If you don’t like great food and wine, miles and miles (or kilometers here) of beautiful vistas, narrow, winding roads up to villages and towns that have been here for over a thousand years, clean, fresh air and friendly, jovial people, don’t come to Tuscany!
We were fortunate that Mas’s sister and brother-in-law, who live in Germany, know the Tuscany area as they have been here many times. They found a wonderful house overlooking a valley where the owners grow grapes and olive trees from which they make wine and olive oil … we have been enjoying all of the above and both are very, very good! When we were making the arrangements to rent this villa for two weeks, we were told by the owners that it would be like living in the Middle Ages … no Internet, no TV and no air conditioning. But lively conversations, a beautiful view of the valley below and fans in every room make up for the lack of conveniences we all have come to take for granted.
We traveled from Lugano, Switzerland to Pisa, Italy by train … from Lugano to Milan to Florence to Pisa. The Milan Centrale and Firenze S. M. Novella stations are something to behold with their beautiful architecture, which reminded us a bit of Grand Central Station in New York, and extremely high ceilings but with the modern technology of departures and arrivals and electronic billboards somehow fitted in. We had just the right amount of time to get from one train to the next and to find our coach and seats and would definitely travel by train again and whenever we can - the train hums smoothly along at around 250km/hr and it beats the lines and hassles of airports and traveling by air.
We lazed for a couple of days by the pool to give our daughter and son-in-law time to get over their jet lag. On our first evening, we traveled a few miles on some narrow, winding roads undulating with the rolling hills which led to our local village, Montecatini Val di Cecina, for the first of many delicious dinners. On the second night, given we have three very talented cooks amongst us (including a professional chef who is our son-in-law), we had a fabulous meal overlooking the valley while the light faded and then we star gazed into the night. On Tuesday, we were off to our first adventure visiting Volterra which the movie “Twilight” mentions as the home of the vampire royalty. Of course, after visiting there, we have been making many jokes about vampires - saw a bat flying by yesterday evening which added fuel to the fire. Since the film was made it has become quite a tourist destination but the old buildings and quaint feeling remain.
After an early evening walk in our local village and dinner on Wednesday, we were off again on Thursday … this time to San Gimignano, another old town high in the hills (we’ll let the picture above tell the story). On the way to dinner, we ran into a flock of sheep being herded down the road. Of course, this caused much excitement with people from the few cars around us leaping out to take pictures … we did too!
Mas Kimball has been a pro at Farm Neck since 2006. He & his wife, Sue, have traveled throughout the United States and internationally ... mostly to play tennis.
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