When the world seems to shine …

Trip Start Sep 11, 2010
1
9
40
Trip End Oct 24, 2010


Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines
shadow

Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Sunday, September 19, 2010

…like you've had too much wine! Then you probably have :-)

What an amazing day! We bussed through the Tuscan countryside, past hundreds of fields of spent sunflowers, scores of orange brick hilltop villages, myriads of twisted olive groves and at least 25 road signs warning of leaping deer. We skirted Firenze and went flying on past every other touristic bus till we arrived in the mediaeval city of Siena. Our guide had introduced us to our driver shortly after we embarked … Michael … Schumacher!

We went on a walking tour through the old city with a local escort, learning about the history and traditions of the people, their two main churches and particularly the famous square where they run the palio (horse race) every year. The guide was excellent and brought the race to life, telling us about all the tricks and bribery that goes on. At the end of the race it doesn’t matter about the jockey though – it’s the first horse over the line that counts! The Duomo was fantastico too, especially the library! It is called the Sistine of Siena, and has bellisimo frescoes painted on the ceiling by one of Leonardo’s students, and displayed all around the walls were original, folio sized illuminated manuscripts hand painted by the monks.

It was very thirsty work climbing up and down the cobblestone streets, but luckily our next stop was a (degustation) winery. Neil, we wished you could have been here with us – you would have been in heaven. We had wine glasses the size of brandy snifters, and there were already two wines lined up for us and a plate of local salami, cheese, rustic bread and olive oil. The Italian waiters put on a floor show for us, and had us in fits of laughter, when they were telling us to pay attention and showing us how to drink the wine properly. I got a neck massage, my hair ruffled and was cuffed on the arm when I wasn’t listening, but I didn’t mind because the waiter – Frank, "he sounds like Frankie" – was pretty easy on the eye. Several glasses/bottles of wine later (I think we sampled 8 wines, one olive oil infused with truffle, and one 30yr old balsamic vinegar), plus food (a plate of mamma’s lasagne smothered in truffle oil and another plate with slices of roast pork and roasted rosemary potatoes), we wound up with a generous slosh of dessert wine in our fish bowl glasses to dunk our biscottis in. There was also a ritual to this that we had to learn. It was all great fun - as the wine went down, the noise went up, and we got to joke with and tease some wicked Americans and Canadians at our table. We also got to taste some great wine – my personal favourite was the reserve Chianti which was dry, smooth, full-bodied and ready to drink right now. It tasted like the forest around us (would have been perfect with venison!). I wanted to take some back to the ship, but our tour assistant said it would be confiscated till the end of the cruise (as it turned out, lots of people bought wine and were allowed to keep it. Boo hoo).

We finished the tour in San Gimignano – so picturesque and perfect with breath-taking views whether you’re looking inside or outside the old town walls. Quite a contrast to the grime and poverty of Siena. Philip and I had to just sit in the square at the top of the hill for uno momento, to try and take it all in. It was so magical, we ran out of camera battery and had to stop taking photos.

Back at the ship, we went to the Down Under nibbles and drinks on front outside deck. There was a stunning sunset and a piano player and a couple of hundred Ozzies and Kiwis getting to know each other. We caught up with the others and heard about their day then bumped into some Kiwis, who were from the South Island … Nelson … Grove Street … about 3 doors away from where we live!!!! It was good fun, but by about 9 o’clock we were pretty hungry. After dinner, we all went back to Chris and Baumie’s room for a limoncello to help Chris celebrate her birthday, then Chris and I went to the Ballroom Blitz show (singing and dancing) before hitting the pit about midnight.
Slideshow Report as Spam

Comments

Michelle B on

Ah! you just visited my favourite town in all of Italy..Siena - the art is incredible. It all sounds fantastico. Va bene!

Add Comment

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: