Living (and writing about) the Law of Attraction!

Posts tagged ‘Tuscany’

Insights from Italy―Day 5: La Selva. A quiet day at our Villa

Jeane at La Selva

I was glad to have a day just to enjoy our Villa and the surroundings. It turned out to a be a warm sunny day, which was much appreciated. Sightseeing is great, but I love my ‘down’ time, too—time to meditate, read or write. It’s peaceful here, a quiet like you can’t even imagine in the city. There’s something about the old buildings. The thick stone walls could tell stories of their inhabitants over the centuries, but they stand strong and silent. It’s comforting knowing they’ve lasted so long and I wander about the people who lived here hundreds of years ago. Was their life much different? Living off the land, in touch with nature, harvesting the crops, keeping warm on a September evening beside a crackling fire. Who knows? I’m not a history buff, but it’s fun to imagine.

Fawn in forest

Even the animals add to the welcoming feel of the place. Two of the friendliest cats on earth welcome guests with a rub against the leg and if you reach out a hand, they’re your friend immediately, letting you know with a loving purr. A tiny fawn roams freely around the grounds. He’ll walk right up to you if you kneel down and put out your hand. Sherry is less than impressed, however, that he’s already eaten most of her September roses. I was told that wild boar might follow me if I walked into the wooded areas. They’re harmless, but I decided to stick to the roads and pathways.

Pool at La Selva

Our Villa - Libreria

Morning Fog

Sherry and Riccardo invited us for dinner this evening. I’m looking forward to a home-cooked Italian meal. Sherry’s from Canada originally, but having lived here twenty-five years, she’s fluent in the language and has melded into the culture.

Tomorrow, we head for Venice, after spending part of the day in Florence. There we’ll turn in the rental car and take a train to the city of canals.

Arrivederchi for now!

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Insights From Italy―Day 4: Enjoying Tuscany

Cats join us for breakfast

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.

Overlooking Sienna

Il Campo

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.

Villa below Radda

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.

Quiet street in a Chianti Village

Scenic views from Radda

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.

Rolling Hills in Chianti

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.

Insights From Italy – Day 3: Off to our Tuscan Villa

Sunrise over the Colosseum

We did it! According to plan, we got up at 5:00 AM and got ready for early morning sightseeing. It’s a great way to beat the tourists and experience Rome’s local flavor—men and women waiting at the street corners, rushing for transit, picking up the morning paper or standing at the coffee bar tipping back thimbles full of thick, dark expresso.

Since we were in the famed city, we decided to do as Romans do and walked into one of the many coffee-bars open at six in the morning. Standing at the long marble bar, we each ordered croissants and Ron, a cappuccino.

There are no tables or chairs inside, but several outside sat empty waiting for the tourists. Local patrons are in and out of those small establishments very quickly, making room for a new rush. There’s some light conversation and polite greetings, but no one’s there for a lengthy visit. Coffee is served lukewarm and consumed quickly. “Buongiorno” “ciao” (pronounced chow) and “arriviederci” echo endlessly.

The croissants were delicious, sliced in half and filled with a creamy custard. The cappuccino was, in Ron’s opinion, one of the best he’s ever had. The best part…the whole experience was surprisingly inexpensive—€2.60 was the total bill.

Speaking of good surprises, on our way to Tuscany, we stopped at a little pizzeria in the Monti Sabatini area and thought we were ordering a slice or small individual pizza (considering the prices on the menu ranged from €3.00 – €7.00) We were shocked when the waitress brought us each our own 14 inch pizza.

Groceries are cheap in Italy, too, it you know where to shop. We found a grocery store on our way to our villa in Tuscany and stocked up on bread, cheese, 2 bottles of wine, a six pack of water, fresh tomatoes and fruit. It all came to just over €15.00.

Our Tuscan villa is charming. Called the “Libraria,” it has a sitting room with books flanking a marble fireplace, a cute kitchen, separate bedroom, and our own very private balcony, overlooking rolling hills dotted with Cyprus trees. Shortly after arriving, we met Riccardo and Sherry, the owners, and a cat named Mowgli.

Mowgli

Mowgli’s back to visit us again. We had to open the windows to clear the smoke after lighting the fire and the lithe black cat with bright yellow eyes jumped right in and made himself at home, purring on the sofa beside us as we relax, listen to music and enjoy the crackling fire.

rental car

I can’t sign off without mentioning our mode of transportation. Our rental is a cute little Chevy Spark—without a doubt the smallest car I’ve ever been in. We fit right in with all the little Fiats and Smart cars on the roads. In fact, every car manufacturer is represented on the streets of Italy’s towns and cities—just in smaller models than we are used to seeing in Canada. And despite the warnings about drivers in Italy, we braved the streets and freeways and toll highways and found our way out of Rome and into the much quieter countryside of Tuscany. We’re looking forward to a day of sightseeing tomorrow around Siena.

Internet connection is not as common as you’d think here, so these posts may be coming irregularly. Even so, I’m still writing, documenting this amazing trip.

Ciao!

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