#1 Italy, July 10, 2014

I’ve been on a short little trip this time, as chief cook, driver and chaperone. My 17-yearold grandson went to Ireland with a church group and when that was finished, he and two friends went on to Rome. They did the usual in Rome, although the Trevi Fountain was under construction (had no water in it), and so was part of the Colosseum, as well as the ‘boat’ fountain at the bottom of the Spanish steps. Think how nice everything will look next year! They did toss coins into the dry Trevi, though, so they will be sure to return to see the results of the construction.

I arrived Rome and rented a car to drive to Partina to have everything ready for them when they came the following DSC04569day. They came on the train to Arezzo, where I met them at the station. At the house in Partina we had a bit of Proseco (well, I had more than a bit) with sDSC04570nacks (I can’t spell that other word) before they walked downtown near the Partina
Castle to have pizza and a visit with Marco’s aunt, uncle and two cousins.

Saturday night was the big, very late night for the youngsters. The plan was that I would drive them to a disco/dance place, and Marco’s uncle would come and get them. Since Marco is only 17, he can’t drive in Italy (have to be 18). We started early (at 10:20 PM!!) to go to see the lit cemetery at Soci. This used to be much more impressive with each grave having a bright light, but now they had converted all the white lights to tiny red ones, and it wasn’t nearly as interesting.

Marco’s cousin, Martina, went, too, and was to direct me, but she didn’t quite know the
way to the disco/dance place. We drove to Arezzo and Martina got telephone
instructions on how to proceed. We drove out into the country, again, and finally, with
more phone instructions, at the back of beyond, at midnight, we went up a funny long
driveway to the Dulce Verde—the Sweet Green. Now all I had to do was to find my way
back to Partina, in the dark! Marco had programmed his phone GPS for me, which gave
me some comfort, except it didn’t talk to me and I couldn’t look at it and drive, too!
Amazingly, I found my way back with only one wrong turn, but I knew where I was and
finally was able to correct for that. I got home about 1:15 AM and they got home about 4:00 AM! They said they had fun, so it was worth it!

DSC04568Most of their fun was hanging out with Partina friends very late at night, ending up after
midnight at the local bakery, where they would eat goodies hot out of the oven. My
fun was buying the wonderful food for them to eat—procuitto, Tuscan salami, their extra good melons, the local unsalted bread (one time centuries ago a tax was levied on salt, DSC04579so
they started making their bread without salt and still do) DSC04574and other goodies.

We went to see Camaldoli way up in the mountains where St. Romuld started a monastery in 1012. Our first stop was the 14th C. Antique Pharmacy where they bought some chapstick made by the monks out of local DSC04584ingredients. St. Romuld’s little bed (no doubt a reproduction) didn’t look so comfy!

Now there are two big churches and other 16th C. facilities to admire. They said that DSC04577the mountain water, which was running out of fountains everywhere was extra tasty!

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Then we came down the mountains to see the 12th C. DSC04591castle at Poppi. This was the scene of a great battle between the Guelphs and the DSC04593Ghibellines in the 13th C. in which Dante took part. The interior is beautiful, having been restored since I began coming here.

There’s a small jail within that the kids tried out—and a great statue of one of the
Guidis. There are 14th C. Taddeo Goddi DSC04605frescos in the chapel. And the energetic three decided to climb the tower—it’s very high!

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One beautiful day we all took the bus to Florence from DSC04618Poppi, including Martina, Marco’s cousin, who met a friend in Poppi. That ride over the ‘Spina’ (spine of the mountains) is sensational and we had perfect weather forDSC04642 the whole week. In Florence we split up, with me going to the Pitti Palace; Martina and friend going by themselves—they have seen all the ‘sights;’ and Marco and friends seeing the Duomo, and climbing up to the very top. This was the highest and biggest dome in the world until the 20th century, and was built in the early 1400s!

Then they stood in line for a long time (again—the crowds at this time of year are horrible!) to see Michelangelo’s ‘David’—in my opinion one of the three most wonderful man-made things in the world!! The Ponte Vechio, the Piazza della Signoria and other landmarks plus lunch rounded out their day. I took the 2:05 bus back to Poppi, they took the 6:20, and so arrived in Poppi at 8:20 when I picked them up.

DSC04644Wednesday, after visiting Marco’s aunt and uncle in Pieve di Socano, we walked a few feet behind their very old church to see an Etruscan altar from 600 BC. Apparently the Romans made some walls out of the Etruscan stones, and then the Christians made a church out of the same stones. The church seems a little kittywampas, but it IS very old!

DSC04648We stopped to visit Bibbiena, one of the most beautiful Tuscan towns,

 

 

 

 

then rounded out  our day with a stop at Santa Maria del DSC04649Sasso, a nearby convent. Unfortunately it was closed, but we looked at the cemetery and the exterior.

 

 

 

 

When we got home, the three swam/ducked in the little river in Partina, although that mountain stream was pretty chilly, they DSC04655said. That evening we went to Poppi and had dinner at Il Casentino Ristorante—one of my favorites. There was a private party going on in the back room, as there often is. This group was obviously Indian—probably local people. The make up of the populace is changing here, too.

It was a really fun week+. They were great travelers and I think they had a good time! Saturday we leave at 5:30 AM for the Rome airport. The girls’ flight is at 11:20 AM; Marco hopes to get on one at 11:40 AM (standby) and I am staying overnight and
will leave early Sunday morning.

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