On our 2nd day in Italy, we went to Parco Fauntistico, a nature preserve where red deer and bats roam. (possibly Wolves) Donna made her first Italian pun at dinner tonight calling the park “fauntastico” . On the same day she asked the very confused waiter for the check, but actually asked for a side dish. (conto not contorno). Actually Donna is feeling like she is making progress.
Back to Day 1: On the flight from Frankfurt to Rome, we passed over Isola Giula and thought/imagined we could make out the Costa Concordia just after it was hauled upright. Great story, but we were a few days late. On our drive up the Tuscan coast we were able to stay awake, only to get lost in Orbetello, a geographically charming place that is on a sandbar between the mainland and the island of Monte Argentario. We popped by Porto Ercole to see where Caravaggio died; the event was underwhelmingly commemorated by a wall plaque on a Renaissance church. Great Primo Pranzo (lunch) in Orbetello.. No menu, just recommendations from the owner. We had risotto with porcini and chicory as the side. Short stroll in the Maremma parco on the coast with gorgeous umbrella pine trees. Saw many foxes…the Italian species are not as stealthy as they are in Colorado.
|Foxy Bernie Umbrella Pines and his Fiat Cube Car|
1st night in Arcidosso, a classic Tuscan hilltown in the valley of Monte Amiata, the tallest mountain/extinct volcano in Southern Tuscany. Our inn requires a lot of uphill climbs which helped us to work off the great dinner at “Rosso Bastardo” (a nick name for the Chestnuts grown in abundance here). The Montecuccuo Sangiovese wines, super local, grown in volcanic soil are inexpensive and flavorful.
Day 2….Per usual, we had lots of confusion getting our Italian phone working, which needed a new battery and SIM card. Made our way to charming St Fiora to see some famous 16th century Della Robbia glazed terracotta relief sculptures at a small church and then the Peschiaria, a trout farm and pool. Miraculously we were able to arrive at the Pro Loco (tourist office) before it closed for siesta. Timing your arrival in a new town when the tourist office is open is one of many challenges of our type of travel. We made fast friends with Grazie….who spoke perfect Queen’s English…(duh, she was born in England of Italian parents). Lunch was normal aka INCREDIBLE. First taste of Pici, the Tuscan thick spaghetti, in YEARS.
Afternoon spent at Parco Fauntistico. Lovely vistas, grand chestnut trees and some wildlife sightings…red deer and giant rabbits called lepre. Enough to rev up our appetites for dinner. Added treat of dinner was Bernie and an Austrian at the adjacent table having a great conversation in Italian.We realized at the end of Day 2 that we had lost our Italian phone.
Day 3 back to St Fiora to look for our phone. Not there but we were able to chat again with Grazie. That was nice. Day of sightseeing capped by a hike up Monte Amiata (a ski area too).
There is a wonderful cross on top of mountain that was one of 20 crosses commissioned by the then Pope and built in late 19th and early 20th century on the highest 20 peaks in Italy. This is the first one we have seen. It was unnecessarily bombed by Germans in WWII and rebuilt. (Just to be fair, Americans probably unnecessarily bombed other places).