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    Siena & Firenze

    We spent the first 5 days of our trip in an Agritourismo (Bed & Breakfast equivalent but includes dinner too) in the offskirts of Siena. We and about a dozen of our friends enjoyed the fine food, day trips and a wedding. In all of these adventures we realized that a GPS system out here is a must. It’s right about 90% of the time, but without it, we would probably still be doing circles around Rome. How did anyone survive before GPS systems is beyond me! I will say that my sense of direction is better out here. Maybe being on my native side of the world is restoring my directionally challenged mind.

    Our first day trip was to old Siena. We walked around the Palio where one of the country’s more famous annual horse races is held. Thousands of people flock here during that time. I, however, am happy that we got to see it without the massive crowds. The scenery around Siena is striking. Finely groomed green meadows, cypress trees, red poppies, and quaint old structures extend as far as the eye can see. I think May is the best time to be here — the temperature, although warm, is not hot, and the green grass is weeks away from turning a dry summer yellow.

    Our second day trip was to Florence. About an hour away from our Agritourismo home we had a caravan of several cars making their way out here. It was an experience! Driving in Italy isn’t bad but takes a little bit of getting used to. (Please note, the last statement does not include driving in Rome.) Cars barrel down the highway and trucks are not afraid to join the race, irregardless of their size. Signaling lane changes is a nicety not too many participate in, and having someone invade your lane “just ‘cuz” is a common occurence. People are keen on observing one rule though: you stay on the right of the road unless you intend to go fast. Our California elderly-lady-is-doing-50-in-the-fast-lane-because-she’s-too-afraid-of-merging-cars doesn’t fly here. You go fast, move to the right, or you have the car behind you glued to your bumper.

    Anyway — back to Florence. Once we arrived our cars split up based on what each group wanted to do. There was a shopping group, a tourist group, and a “whatever” group. We were in the tourist group. Given that the other family in this little partnership was with a 14 month toddler, we walked at just the right speed me, making all the right stops. We began with the Medici chapel. Michelangelo was a resident arist here and much of the wall fresco’s and sculptures inside are his. We continued our walk from the Duomo ending at the Ponte Vecchio bridge. We tried to see the sculpture of David, but the line to just buy a ticket was absurd so we decided to move on. Instead we saw a David replica. The bridge was our last touristy destination. From here we ended up at dinner at a great pizza place and ended the day with a second tasting of the Crema di Medici gelato. If you haven’t tried this yet, do — it’s worth it. S, who is not even a desert lover was the one we insisted we go back to the gelato place so he can get a scoop of this of his very own. Maybe there’s hope for this man yet.

    On our third day trip adventure we visited our friend Stefano’s family vineyards, MorisFarms (www.morisfarms.it). It’s great to get a detailed tour of the operation, walk around the property, and yes, be fed an excellent four course lunch with wine pairings (complete with wild boar raised on the property). Can you tell we’ve been very well fed on this trip? I will admit that despite being pregnant I had a sip of each of the three wines we were served. Don’t yell at me though: each was super, super, small and barely enough to swallow. We’re bringing back two bottles and S has committed to letting them chill in our wine fridge until after G arrives.

    Our last day was spent mostly in preparation for the wedding we attended that night. I don’t get to experience weddings in different traditions (or countries) so I relish the opportunity to. Stef’s was a traditional Catholic wedding held at his now wife’s family church. I was initially surprised they didn’t choose to hold the event at one of their winery properties given how gorgeous the grounds are, but in Italy it’s the norm to be married in the bride’s family church. The church the wedding was held in has no address so it was an adventure getting there. It is very, very old and an amazing sight from an archeological perspective. It was small, and had enough seats to seat only about 50 guests. I don’t think I’d seen Stef glow and smile as much as he did that day. His wife is wonderful and I’m happy to see him this happy. The reception included a nine course meal. Yep, you read this right: 9 courses (although in full fairness, side dishes are considered a course here), not including the apetizers. Italians eat late, and by 10pm we were only on the 3rd course. I started to think we’d be eating until 2am to get through it all. The cake was great by the way: sweet but light: just perfect!

    I had a lot of people stare at me during the reception. It kinda bugged me. I wasn’t the only pregnant woman there, but I felt like I was getting the brunt of all the stares. Thankfully the mother of the groom the next morning explained: in Italy once a woman becomes pregnant she travels no-where. For the Italians, with my presence, I was probably committing the equivalent offense of a pregnant woman smoking back home.

    Oh in case you’re curious, I wore the smaller dress size of the two I brought. I can (and will be) returning the bigger size as soon as we get home.

    One response to “Siena & Firenze”

    1. Alison (MyABCLife) says:

      How awesome to experience a wedding in Italy!!

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