Friday, May 28, 2010

Bologna to Florence


We broke up our train to Florence with a stop in bologna. Here we could tell was the start of Rome. Immediately we came across some roman ruins.

We walked down independencia to piazza maggiore where I read about restaurant that had good pasta.

Piazza maggiore.

After 2 trips to the tourist office and a few circles we found the restaurant only to find we'd already passed it twice. !!!!

The pasta was really good- we had bolognese and raviolli.
Hopped on another train (packed but short) and we were in Florence in less than 45 minutes.
Ok. We kind of lost it at this point. When we got to Florence we looked at the city and realized we just couldn't do 4 more days in a big city. Also, because of the mix up with the place I reserved, we just kinda picked a place to stay and while it wasn't terrible it was very very noisy and partly non functional. We quickly decided that to help ourselves not lose it we would just leave Florence the next day and go to cinque terre early. Our cinque terre b&b host was sososo helpful when we told her we wanted to come early. She didn't have any vacancy but her neighbor said we could stay with her. Also, very crucial, we were able to move our wine tour to tomorrow as well. Whew, all set. It was time to check out the duomo.
The duomo at first sight is breathtaking. I don't think we were prepared to be so mesmerized. It was huge and I couldn't even fit it in my photo frame at any angle or distance. We futzed around the piazza for about an hour listening to podcasts we had downloaded about the duomo. Then we grabbed some food and gelato with waffles. Got home early for the crazy morning we had planned tomorrow.

I really wanted to go to piazza michealangelo that overlooked the city but our wine tasting and tour in Greve in Chianti left at 9:30 so this meant we had to do the trek early. Real early (for us). We weren't sure how long it would take us but we figured 2 hours would do it so 7:15 we were off. We power walked it as the city hustled through it's morning. I was a little sad that we were leaving so early because Florence really is beautiful for a big city. Hilly with red bricked rooftops and rolling green hills with villas all around.

We had been walking for 45 minutes and then we came to this. Stairs that we couldn't even see the end of. I think I started laughing at this point. I dont remember why. Had to have been from exhaustion, not knowing if we were heading in the right direction, and Bs kneeling over and panting. Those stairs just kept going and going and going like the damn energizer bunny.

Finally we reached the top just as a lady, who was jogging up and down the stairs around us, began her descent for the third time. Show off.

I have to say...the view was worth it. Big time.

Sadly, we only had 5 minutes to gaze, snap my shot of the fake David since we were gonna miss the real one, before running back to our hotel. B stopped to give some kitty love though.

Grabbed our bags, dropped the keys, hustled to the station, on the bus to Chianti.

The ride was only an hour but it was wonderful to watch the onflow of Tuscan vineyards and villas. On the way we saw our first gas station in weeks. Our tour was at Castello di Verrazzano. On their website, they saw you can walk to their office within 15 minutes. They flat out lied. 25 minutes up the steep winding hill, our tour guide drives by saying he will pick us up because we has a good 1/2 mile left. After doing the 2 hour trek earlier, and this one with our backpacks, I was ready to not.walk.anymore!

Finally there!

The tour was very organized and really interesting. Our guide spoke English pretty well and was constantly trying to crack jokes with us but some were lost in translation.

The grounds were beautiful with grape vineyards and olive tree orchards everywhere.

After our tour, we all settled here for our tasting which included food.

Every table received 4 bottles of their reds, a table, a reserve, a classic, and a vintage reserved (I think). I'm still not sure which went to which but I liked my left and right. B liked them all and I'm pretty sure finished a bottle or two.

The point of the lunch though was to sample the wine with food. You really could tell the difference. The food was very good and surprisingly a large spread for each person. Light items but just right. The cheeses! OMG the cheeses!

The dessert - my favorite part and I will never look at balsamic vinegar the same again. They gave us p.r and a little spoon of their balsamic which was really like syrup. We were to chew the cheese and before swallowing, sip the balsamic. Sheer genius.

I wanted to bathe in it and maybe pour some over ice cream but at 48 euros for a teeny heavily padded bottle, I passed.

Back on the road (thanks to a lift back down the hill) to Florence for our immediate train to Cinque Terre.

Bye Tuscany. See you again.

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