Tuscany and Rome
17.05.2012 20 °C
We leave the culture of Firenze for the rolling hills of Tuscany. San Gimignano and its towers was the ideal opening chapter. These towers were built higher and higher in noble one-up-manship and while only a handful exist today, they provide both a dramatic scene as you approach the town and from the top, a perfect vantage point to view the town and the surrounding Tuscan landscape.
Degustation lunch at another hilltop gem in Volterra was a culinary highlight, great local food washed down with a series of regional wines (including chianti of course). The trip to our farmhouse confused our gps and as such resulted in many back streets across a string of beautiful hill top towns as we stumble to Torita Di Siena get directions at the local bar and finally arrive via a couple of winding dirt roads through the heart of olive and wine country. The adventure was worth it to stay in this amazing converted farmhouse with the warmest hosts which gave us a more rustic view of this beautiful region.
Waking under a Tuscan sun (had to insert that), we made our way to Siena via Monteulciano and we're getting as sense for how the Utriscians liked the security of a hilltop, the Romans built on this as did the medieval Christians resulting in picturesque hit after hit. Finding a local osteria was a truimphe of Tuscan cuisine with gorgonzola bruscetta, grilled fresh porcini, wild boar and of course chianti all featuring. The afternoon takes us through Umbria to Assisi and more stunning views, cobblestone streets and fresh local food.
The following, we head towards Rome but just when you thought we had seen enough hill tops and climbed enough stairs, there was still time for Spoleto and it didn't disappoint. Within a few hours we would be in bustling and dusty Rome so we took time to reflect on our Tuscan / Umbrian tour and we understand completely why this region has achieved such notoriety, we could have easily spent more time here.
And then there is Rome. You come to Rome for the sights not the tranquility however, we have found a peaceful place in the Trastevere district which is a bit like Surry Hills. I'm got to check my word count here as for a fan of the roman empire this is Mecca so suffice to say the last few days have but a heady mix of temples, pantheons, forums, palaces, stadiums, theatres and ruins. We've hit all the majors including the Trevi fountain, the Spanish steps, the isola, piaza Navona, St.Peter's, the Vatican museum, the Sistine chapel and the colloseum ( two visits for me at the last). Love Rome. Big, busy, bold Rome. The Jewish quarter has given us some great food options harking back two millennia (tripe, innards and brains as examples) and the layers of history and religion guarantee this city as a global highlight.
Tomorrow we say arrivederci roma and head south for pizza in Napoli and sun on the almafi. We don't know which amalfi will greet us. Sexy, romantic amalfi or tourist coach traffic amalfi. Either way, we'll grab a Vespa and make it our own.
Ciao, a presto.