#1 Italy, May 22, 2013

I met my three friends, Jeanne Johnson, Carol Freeman, and Alyce Rodda, in the Rome airport after I had stayed overnight in Rome. Actually it wasn’t quite that simple—we were a couple of hours looking for each other, due to a mixup in plans. Anyway, all’s well that ends well, and we moved on to pick up our rental car. Well, that was a nasty DSC04991surprise! The company had a policy that nobody could rent and drive the car if they were over 75 years of age. It certainly would have been nice to know this before we rented the car. We carried on to another rental company, and were able to rent a car and soon we were on our way.

We drove north to Partina in steady drizzle. Tuscany looks beautiful even in the rain! It DSC04994feels really nice to be in my ‘Italian home’ again. We spent the next two days getting organized—grocery shopping, visiting, and cooking roast rabbit.

 

The rain finally let up and we went sight seeing, first to Camaldoli Monastery, and then to Poppi Castle, two DSC05016wonderful places to explore within just minutes of driving from Partina.

 

 

 

 

 

Added to that were gorgeous DSC05004views of Tuscany wherever we looked!

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday was our day to visit LaVerna Monastery where St. Francis of Assisi started his DSC05020DSC05017ministry and received the stigmata. A nice statue of him welcomed us. After mass was over in the church, we slipped in and saw St. Francis’ cloak, bowl and glass.

This monastery has many beautiful Della Robbias, ‘paintings’ made from clay in a DSC05018new process started by Luca Della Robbia in about 1420. It was carried on by his sons, nephews, and their sons and grandsons for about 120 years. They still look fresh and beautiful.

Sunday dinner was at Buca di Michelangelo, a wonderful restaurant that has a prix fixe meal to end all. There were about nine courses with unlimited Tuscan red wine—antipasta; two courses of bruschetta; two pastas; first secondo of beef tenderloin and Boston lettuce; second secondo of pigeon, lamb and chicken with French fries; batter-fried mushrooms; desert similar to Tiremisu; sliced strawberries; espresso coffee; and our choice of lemoncello or grappa. Pleasantly it lasted over DSC05023three and a half hours. There was a First Communion being celebrated at a large table in our dining room—the little girl looked so cute in her pretty white dress and fancy hairdo. Then a lovely Canadian couple from Ottawa chatted with us, wondering if we were American or Canadian. While eating we had lovely views of the Tuscan countryside, but on the way home it AGAIN began to rain!

Tuesday was our day in Florence. We took the two-hour bus ride from Poppi, then walked to the Uffizi where Jeanne had made a reservation so we could go right in, rather than wait in an hours-long line. The Uffizi is wonderful, but exhausting, especially with all DSC05040those people. What must it be like in July??? They have a coffee shop where we had our lunch—the food, not terrific, but the view and surroundings? Out of this world! We ate our lunch in the shadow of the Palacio Vechio—the 12th C. town hall—and also saw the copy of Michelangelo’s DSC05043“David” that resides DSC05032in the Piazza della Signoria.

Today an ‘R and R’ day ended our first week in Partina. We drove to Soci to use wifi at a coffee shop and send this, and moved on to the grocery store at Bibbiena to buy fixings for duck a la ‘orange, which we will eat tonight. The weather has been cool and somewhat rainy, but we’re enjoying Italy.

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