We actually slept in until 10:00 o’clock this morning. I think our bodies needed the extra sleep to catch up, because we both felt thoroughly refreshed.
After a leisurely breakfast on our sun drenched balcony, we took a drive into Siena. Our maps lacked sufficient detail, but we still managed to find the church of San Domenico, the famous Il Campo (called the best square in Italy) and the beautiful Duomo, a cathedral full of art and statues by Michelangelo. Throngs of people and damp weather made it somewhat less than enjoyable, so we didn’t spend long there.
Once we left the city and headed north toward Florence, the sun shone again and we tripped contentedly through a couple of smaller centers. Both in Chianti, the first one was called Castellina.
The second, called Radda, was absolutely lovely. It is built on a high ridge and has magnificent views in two directions. The narrow streets are barely wide enough for the smallest of cars to maneuver, but they are picturesque with jutting out balconies, small potted trees and baskets spilling over with red flowers. Colorful bed-sheets often hang out a window or over a railing to dry. The smaller towns are much cleaner than the cities, showing that the rural people take more pride in their surroundings—either that or they don’t have as many tourists to deal with.
It was nice to step outside the tourist traps and see Italy at its finest. I can see now why North Americans dream of owning a Villa in Tuscany. The food is delicious—whether it is eaten standing at a bar or sitting on a patio. The wine is plentiful and cheap. There are photo-worthy views everywhere you look and the people are always smiling, offering a warm greeting to a stranger.
After leaving Radda, we got deliciously lost. It seems that all roads lead to Siena and/or Florence (Firenze) when you are in the heart of Tuscany, but if you’re looking for a small out-of-the-way Villa near a tiny town called Montebenichi, the road signs aren’t as accommodating. Neither is our trusted GPS. So heading in the direction we thought was right and using the setting sun as our guide, we finally found our way back. Meanwhile, we got some wonderful pictures and thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon.