Sunday 31 July 2022

The Trials of a Long Distance Blogger

I have mentioned the trials of this long distance blogger before - a new tablet that doesn't work like the old one, European internet rules,  problems with transferring photos from the camera and the phone to be used on the tablet, poor internet ... the frustration goes on.

We have a family Chat page where we are daily touching base with C and K. Today Kelly posted this photo to them, entitled The Frustrated Blogger.

Son K replied:        Looks comfy
Kelly replied:          Her brain isn't
Son K replied:        I can help ...

                                 It's hot.
                                 We did stuff.

Well, that cheered me up.

Saturday 30 July 2022

Impruneta market day, a discovery and our drive way

 It's market day again. Only bought peaches today but still did the rounds of the stalls. A  new thing for Italy ... hot chips being sold in a paper bag, by weight at a rotisserie chicken van. They were popular and I was very tempted.

The Gelateria only opens at 4 pm and the bar in the piazza was sold out so we were heading for the carpark feeling deprived. Then I spotted a small sign that gave me hope.

This is so typical of Italian buildings ... what you see on the outside is rarely what you get inside.  Just inside the door is a Lotto counter, and then ...

Further back were a couple of poker machines discreetly hidden by a screen, toilets and, to the side, a door outside to a beautiful terrace with a gelati refrigerator. Sorry, no photos, I only had eyes for my flavour selection. Once served we sat at their outdoor tables ...

What a discovery!

In the evening we walk our small amount of rubbish and recyclables to the bins. Luckily it is before the roller coaster drive way. These photo below show the private road we travel on to reach our farmhouse. The main road runs across at the top of this steep road. Going out is more challenging because little manual cars need a good run up to get to the top, and the traffic is wizzing by so stopping at the correct moment is crucial.

Once we reach the point where this photo was taken we turn  right and have a small section of 'strada bianca' white road, to the communal parking area.

Another day, more Chianti villages to visit

The Chianti region is quite hilly and has continuous windy roads so it does take some time to travel short distances. Today we headed for Castelina in Chianti, passing through Strada and Greve on the way. The morning views of the vineyards were lovely but alas, stopping along the way for photos is not easy.

Castelina in Chianti is only 35 kms from Siena so it experiences tourists from both Florence and Siena. It is 578 metres above sea level and this makes a lot of difference. It was cooler than we have been experiencing but what we really noticed was the potplants and flowers everywhere. Such a difference to all the dead pots, and to the look of a town.

It was quite busy as it has mainly tourist-type shops. It doesn't look like it in this photo because every-one was having lunch. There are many restaurants, wine tasting and sales points, up-market souvenir shops such as pasta, dried herbs, olive wood products, art and gelato shops (which we sampled).

We couldn't find a light lunch spot we liked so we continued on to Radda in Chianti. Again lots of flowering pots and greenery. Lots of families, most with dogs, and the same wine sales and tasting opportunities.

After a visit to the Church of San Niccolo, which dates from 1260, we found a cool place for lunch. We entered saying we would have a panino (sandwich) but left having had  pasta (wild boar for one, duck for the other), wine and a torta della nonna dessert.

Further to my comment earlier, a family came in and gathered together several tables beside us - seven adults, three children, one baby in pram and three dogs. No wonder we found it difficult to get a table.

This was a REALLY bad hair day! Hats and hot, hot weather don't go well together.

Then it was on to Volpaia, a place we had not visited before, but which has a very high reputation in wine circles. It is primarily a castle on top of a steep hill with a small surrounding village, all dating from1172. More pot plants and flowers, two old churches, several restaurants and accommodation are what you see, but what you don't see is a large wine making business hidden within the walls of the castle.
The family who own this castle continue to restore it to its original plan thus maintaining the integrity of the small village.

I peeped through a slightly opened door and here are the hidden workings of the winery.

The photo below is obviously not mine, but it shows you this very interesting little castle village that camouflages a top class winery within its walls.

Home by 4 pm, a little nap and then we were sitting outside enjoying the cooler evening when a few drops of rain fell. Unfortunately that was all it was.

Thursday 28 July 2022

Sorbeto - no need to go anywhere else to enjoy Tuscany

After a big day out yesterday, today was not so much a rest day as a domestic duties day. We did two loads of washing, swept all the floors and did a general clean then did the rubbish run. 

It is always interesting in Italy as all rubbish needs to be sorted then taken to the nearest receptacles. In this case, we have a collection of bins  about 170 metres away for general rubbish, compostables, cardboard and plastics & metals. Glass we have to take further up the main road to a large dome shaped container.

Our last task was to visit the Coop again to top up the food and drink supplies. With the weather continuing to hover between 36 and 38 degrees, and the kitchen only having a small refrigerator, the need to keep visiting the supermarket is ever present.

None of these things are photo worthy so I am posting a few shots from around our garden and house. Remember that it hasn't rained for almost four months.


Last night our lovely host Mattia brought us some ice-cream that he had made. It was extremely delicious and most welcome.

Kel's contribution to today's blog.

Buon Ricordo - Good memories in Florence

We have been to Florence many times but the purpose of today's visit was to get another Buon Ricordo plate for our collection. You get these plates by going to certain restaurants and ordering the designated dish (which is not always made obvious) and when you leave you are presented with the hand painted plate.

We didn't want to drive into Florence because for us there is no worse place on earth. Many of the streets in the old city are now for permit holders only, many are one-way, parking is difficult and the traffic is very busy on the approaches. With no little effort over the past several days we finally worked out the bus system and got tickets, and left Impruneta at 8.45 am this morning. Forty minutes later we were in Florence. Why would you drive!

Our booking was for 12.30 so we had plenty of time to wander about beforehand. There was quite a crowd at all the main attractions but not the size we would normally expect. People are still being cautious. Later we noticed the cruise ship crowds in organised guided tour groups and in the restaurants. Not our favourite type of tourist!

If you have ever been on the Ponte Vecchio you will know this is not a normal crowd, and you can see why we are still the oldest tourists we have seen.

Neptune was under repair last time we were here but he is looking pretty good now.

Wandering around the little lanes we saw several workshops doing unusual crafts. In one, three people were making or restoring stringed instruments. A man was making those highly decorative picture frames to hold old masters. In another a lady had an ancient mercers. She sold braids, threads, buttons and lace ... and much more.

Then we came upon a workshop that was repairing and making copies of old statuary. Quite a lucrative busineess in Florence, one would expect.

And then you catch a glimpse of the Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
It certainly has the Wow factor, and never loses it.

Our lunch date was at Il Francescano near Santa Croce church and we arrived to find the place packed with cruise ship groups. Not a good start but we settled in to our corner spot and enjoyed all that was going on around us. Then I realised that the meal I needed to order was not on the menu. The waitress explained that they only do that in the evenings. Kel said 'We have come all the way from Australia for that meal and the plate.' She went off and spoke to the head waiter and the chef and came back to say they would do it for us. Now that is service!

The meal was called Fritto del Convento, fried morsels from the convent. Rabbit, chicken, carrot, zucchini and onion rings, all lightly battered and fried and served with lemon. Sooo delicious. We followed that with an unusual tiramisu with walnuts in it.
Tuscan bread and a bottle of prosecco and we had a delightful lunch ... 

... and we were given two plates as both of us had the same food. So, one to hang on the wall with the other eleven and one to use.

Dante, born 1265 in Florence, poet, writer, philosopher. Ah, memories of year 12 history.

Nearby we saw this unusual sight; home delivery gelato. Could be interesting in these 36 degree days.

Wandering along towards the bus station we came to the Leather Market where we made a couple of purchases of the cincture kind. 50% off after all!

Then in via Tornabuoni, the street with all the big name stores (Gucci, Ferragamo, Prada, Armani) I spotted these sneakers. Probably not called sneakers! If you have to ask, you can't afford them.

Who slept all the way home on the bus?