Round and round (the merry-go round)

Trip Start Mar 17, 2012
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Trip End Jun 26, 2012


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Where I stayed
Agriturismo Montaneta

Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Sunday, June 17, 2012

It's a bright sunny morning and we are going to spend the day on the beach at Forte Dei Marmi. The plan is to meet Paolo and family at his private beach club and just loll around in the Tuscan sun.We leave the B & B relatively early to check out the Forte Dei Marmi shops before heading down to the beach.

The township is very chic and most locals ride their bicycles or vespas to and from the shops. It is peculiar to see everyone from old ladies to young men in all manner of attire, darting around the streets on their way to wherever.

At the beach club we park our car and make our way to Paolo's spot on the sand where he has the umbrella and sun lounges.
When our stomachs start to rumble, we head for the club's cafe but Paolo suggests a new pizza restaurant close by where he has his beach apartment. Whilst the pizza was pleasant enough, the gelato from the gelataria next door was unbelievable. There's nothing like home-made gelato in Italy!!

By late afternoon we bid Paolo and family 'Ciao' and head off toward our nights' accommodation in La Serra, Carmignano, less than 100 kilometres away.

One would think that given that the trouble we had of finding our last B & B, we may have been a bit suspect about finding our farmhouse accommodation any easier.
The sun is low in the sky and the road is winding in the hills approaching the municipality of Carmignano. We pass a petrol station. The fuel gauge is low. We press on - the destination is close (or so we think!). 
The steep slopes and twisting turns are taking a toll on our fuel supply. The indicator light has been illuminated already for 10 minutes and we have paseed no other fuel station. Suddenly, the GPS announces "you have arrived - the destination is on your right!"
On the right is a pretty English garden in front of a very suburban looking house. It's doddery owner has a small spade in his right hand and is stooped over a garden bed, feebly digging at what appears to be a clump of weeds. This is certainly not a farmhouse B & B and other than an empty block of land next door, there is nothing in sight that even remotely looks like a farmhouse or farm property.
I walk onto the vacant block and follow a track that goes down a hill at what appears to be the back of the property. Down the slope of the hill the land flares out to be a large expanse of trees and grass with a shed in the distance. A walker is coming toward me up the hill and I enquire if this is a farmhouse property. With the little English he speaks, he informs me that there is no farmhouse here and he is just walking the path he has taken as a shortcut to the township we are in.
I search through the paperwork I have on the farmhouse and there is only the name of the establishment and the email address. There is no phone number or street address and all contact I have had previously has been by email. We drive further along the road to a bar/cafe where locals are outside drinking and socialising. An attempt is made to explain our predicament and enquire as to where the farmhouse may be. The man with no teeth seems to think it is further to the north, whilst the boy in the gumboots thinks it to be to the south.
There is no choice but to travel the 15 minutes back to the service station to re-fuel and to hope there is someone there that can give us some direction or clue as to how to solve this new puzzle.

The drive back in the direction of the service station seems to be endless as the fuel needle touches the E on the gauge. Gail is positive we are not on the correct road and that we should have turned left 3 forks ago. I stay resolute and thinking like Hansel I guide our Panda to the next roundabout where we take the 3rd exit and arrive with a sputter into the entrance of the fuel station.
Whilst we had no luck in our quest for further information on our elusive farmhouse, our hope for a resolution to our quandary rises in concert with the fuel being put in the tank.
Not wanting to give up too easily we retrace our steps back to the point our GPS had led us. Every property along the way is scrutinised for any sign or name that would reveal the object of our search. By the time we have reached the town's limit our resolve is waning. As one last resort we determine that a drive into the next township may reveal a hidden clue. If this fails, we shall drive the 30 or so kilometres to Florence where we can console ourselves in the surrounds of a comfortable hotel.
The next township was Carmignano in the municipality of Carmignano (as distinct from the La Serra, Carmignano). Maybe we had our "Carmignano's" mixed up (confusing isn't it?).

"Look!" squeals Gail. "A public phone! Let's ring Paolo. He is sure to know where this farmhouse is meant to be. It was his suggestion we stay here in the first place when we were planning this trip".
I have enough coin to get 68 seconds of phone time to speak with Paolo. Before the lifeline is disconnected he engages me in a cryptic conversation which I translate to be: 'ask my friend who owns the Ristorante at the corner of the square'.
We find an eatery near the corner of the square and ask the man behind the bar if he speaks English. "Perfectly", he replies and after we explain our predicament, he sits us down, pours us a glass of wine, extracts a book from a shelf titled "Accommodation in Carmignano", phones a number under the name of our elusive farmhouse, and within a few short minutes we are on our way  (after the wine) with clear instructions for the drive to our Tuscan farmhouse B & B.
As a postscript to the above: The restaurateur did not know Paolo. The farmhouse entry gate was on the road we had been travelling up and down on for the previous 2 hours. The street number in the GPS was incorrect as I vaguely remember putting in a substitute number when the GPS would not take the correct one.
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