Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lucca to San Gimignano to Sienna to Florence - Day five Italian Treasures...

Up early, bags out by 6.45 and down for breakfast then off on the bus to San Gimignano. Oh my goodness this town is AMAZING! What a truly stunning ancient city. We toured the town, visited the cathedral, took heaps of photos and shopped. I bought a gorgeous sun hat, some souvenirs and we had a gorgeous pastry and iced coffee!  

This place is so gentle and peaceful and quaint, I really do want to stay longer, but it is back on the bus and off to Sienna. Mamma Mia what another Gorgeous City! We toured the city with Aida then had two hours to explore. We walked right around the square where twice a year they hold a 90 second horse race, on the second of July and the sixteen of August.  It really is hard to believe that horses race around this uneven surface with thousands of people crammed into the centre of the square to watch. It is equally hard to believe that the rider does not have to make it to the finish line with the horse... Just the horse crossing the line determines the winner. It is also incredible to think that people rent out window space around the square and make incredible amounts of money twice a year! Another thing that is hard to believe is the the jockeys sleep with their horses for four days before the race to bond with them ready to race... 
Check out the You tube clip of the 2013 Palio de Siena

Grant and I explored the piazza and shopped our way back out to the main area.

We then travelled through the countryside for a couple of hours up and down hills and around gorges through some really tight spots, incredibly well negotiated by the amazing Flavio. 
We finally arrived at Verrazzano Castle where we had a tour of the wine cellars before wine tasting and dinner. YUMMO! Starting with the rosé we were taught how to properly taste wine Appeakling to all our senses with the smell, the swirl, the smell, the colour, the taste. The meal that followed was simply amazing, breads, garlic breads, pasta, salads, pork, beans, wines for each and every course finishing with panacotta and dessert wine! MAMMA MIA! 

Time for a bus ride back to our hotel, Mediteraneo, where Aida told us the rooms were tiny! She sure can trick us, this hotel is amazing! A sunset walk down to the ponte vecchio completed a very full day! This bridge is incredible! It is the only bridge in Florence that wasn't destroyed in the war because it was considered to be too beautiful to destroy! It is so quaint with shops lining each side and stunning views up and down the river.

Incidental learning on our travels today was the story of schooling in Italy. I was very shocked to learn that school is on 5 half and one full day. I cannot imagine going to school on Saturday as well. This is currently under review as many families are finding it impossible to find care for their children on the half days. Also hard to believe is that a half day is 8.30 to 1.30 and a full day is 8.30 to 4.30. I was also shocked to learn that the average wage is one thousand euro a month! Thy does not seem like enough as we find that things here seem quite expensive, but maybe that is because I am thinking in NZ dollars of which it takes two to make a euro! It is also hard to believe how anyone ever affords to buy a house as you have to earn at least three times per month the cost of mortgage payments! 

No comments:

Post a Comment