(This is a delayed post because our internet cafe computer in Siena, after I had written the entire message listed below) decided to crash without actually publishing the post. So here it is two days later. Mi dispiace!)
May 13, Saturday, Siena
Well, we are having lovely weather, after a few days with some enthusiastic rain here and there during each afternoon or evening.
Thursday morning, we took cabs to the AutoEurope car rental, loaded up three hatchbacks and, gripping our printed directions, set of on the wild adventure of EXITING the old city of Florence. Not as bad as it has been in years past, and we arrived at our agriturismo, Fattoria di Corsignano, before noon. This is a beautiful working farm and bed-breakfast, which produces its own wine and olive oil. The young couple, Mario and Elena, run the place, as a third-generation family occupation. They had a lovely lunch prepared for us in the dining room, with the pale lilac wisteria drooping down from the wood portale outside.
Mario took some of us to the wine cellar and explained about the wines made on the premises, gave us a few tastes, and took our orders for Chianti Riserva and Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I always wondered what made it “extra” virgin, and this time actually discovered that it is because the oil is from the first press, not from an extra hymen!)
We walked or napped, as we pleased the rest of the afternoon. I fell asleep (ME! A nap!) on a lounge chair out by the still-covered swimming pool and when I woke up, literally had no idea where I was. I looked around me, and the views were almost enough to make me believe in heaven, because that’s where I thought I had landed.
Lovely dinner that night on the grounds, and a delicious breakfast yesterday morning before we loaded up and drove to Siena, to the Palazzo di Valli where we stayed last night. We met our tour guide, Viviana Girola, at the tower on the Piazza del Campo, and spent three hours learning about the history of Siena, and visiting the Duomo and other special sites. Then we were each on our own until dinner, most of us returning to the Palazzo to change clothes before coming back into the walled city for dinner at Antica Osteria Da Divo, a restaurant created in a series of cave-levels of an old Senesi building.
Today we are spending the day back in the center of Siena. This evening will leave for the villa in Ambra, which we have rented for the next week. From there we will visit Chianti, San Gimignano, Montepulciano and Pienze, Cortona and Lake Traseimeno, and perhaps another place or two.