By train to Florence

Jean travelling at 246 km/h north of Napoli

Jean travelling at 246 km/h north of Napoli

Yesterday we left Positano and travelled north by high speed train to Firenze and then drove south to our base for the next two days – Radda in Chianti.

After the fun and games of air travel, train travel is so easy and relaxing it’s ridiculous. The most stressful part of the trip was keeping an eye on our bags at Napoli Station – a place renown for pick pockets and thieves.

In all it took 2 hours and 50 minutes to complete the train trip that would have required between 5 and 6 hours to drive.

We collected a rental car at Firenze, negotiated the city’s one way system, and 50 minutes later checked in at Relais Vignale in Radda which is in the heart of Chianti.

We have dinner planned with friends who live in Chianti and a trip to Siena for a spot of shopping before heading on to Roma – because, as they say, that’s where all roads lead.

 

 

Family advice

Gallery

This gallery contains 27 photos.

My nephew’s girlfriend and her sister are planning a trip to Tuscany in September. We have been asked for some advice on where to stay and what to do in and around Tuscany. It sounds as if the girls are … Continue reading

Tuscany in three and a half days – day three

Gallery

This gallery contains 20 photos.

No trip to Tuscany is complete without a visit to Chianti.  We took the back road from Siena through Castellina to Greve.  We couldn’t resist showing Charlie and Isabel the deli in Greve particularly as Isabel’s business is dairy.  Although … Continue reading

Tuscany in three and a half days – day one and a half

Charlie and Isabel arrived on Saturday afternoon having travelled from north of Florence.  I had suggested they text us when they got close to our place which, in this case, meant texting from the carpark “I think we are here”.  The 3kms of dirt road make you wonder where the hell you are the first time you arrive.

We ambled out with the dogs and found them looking around wondering if this was our place or the home of some local family.  Either way they would have been made to feel welcome.

Dinner that night was at our local Pizza restaurant Le Campannia (other summer visitors will know this restaurant) which does excellent pizzas and provides endless free entertainment watching the antics of the locals.

Next morning was the All Black quarter final game so the entire team headed to the Campo at 9am to watch the game.  Clearly word about our World Cup venue is getting out as there were already two holidaying kiwi couples waiting for the game – and with us that meant the crowd swelled to a record eight people.  Nine counting an elderly Italian gentleman who joined us to support the French. He was a day late but still enjoyed the game.

Ninety minutes later it was “job well done” by the lads.  Well sort of well done as there is still some work to do before meeting Australia – and a chance for a wander around Siena before lunch in the sun at Osteria del Bigelli which, once again, did not disappoint with the food.

Jean made her famous kiwi roast pork with gravy for dinner and we washed it down with a very nice Chianti courtesy of our guests.

Rugby, beer, wine, sightseeing and roast pork with gravy.  A top day and a half.

A trip through the Chianti hills

Yesterday we went for a drive to Castellina in Chianti.  We have been there a number of times, both with others and by ourselves over the last few months, but this time we abandoned the autostrade for the backroads.

The trip from Siena to Castellina is a winding road through the lower slopes of the Chianti hills which then climbs up towards Castellina.

Everywhere you look there are classic Italian scences – even when you take a break to let Daisy the dog have a comfort stop.  “Good girl Daisy” and you turn around and this is the view.

A special place in Greve

When Mike and Charmaine and wee James were here we visited the small village of Greve in Chanti.  Greve is built around a triangular piazza which has the usual assortment of shops and cafes dotted around it.

It also has one shop which we think is special.  The sign outside says Norcineria – or butchery – but the experience inside is something else.

Looking out towards the piazza in Greve. Love the sign

Describing Antica Macelleria Falorni as a butchery is like calling St Peters in Rome just a church.  Entering the shop, you are hit by complete sensory overload.  Everywhere you look there are cured hams, cheeses, salamis, and more cured hams hanging, stacked, packed and displayed.  The smell is overwhelming (I’m told as I have no sense of smell) and it strikes you like a hammer the moment you walk through the door.

The shop also sells wines to go with the wide range of cheeses available as well as the ususal Tuscan butchery mix of meats, game, and poultry.

In the usual Italian way, things can be tasted before buying – just to provide even greater sensory overload.

Inside Antica Macelleria Falorni in Greve

The shop stretches through 3 street frontages so as you move away from the front door you move from one small area to another, and in each the ceiling is hung with curing legs of ham giving the whole shop the feeling of a cave.  For food-lovers, almost certainly an Aladdins cave.

If you visit Tuscany, you really should stop in Greve and marvel at this most unlikely tourist attraction.

Visitors

Over the last week or so blog posts have been infrequent – so infrequent that there haven’t been any actually. The reason is simply because we’ve had visitors – from New Zealand and the UK. We have been busy – a complete novelty after 3 months of doing, well, nothing.

In addition to Charmaine, Mike and little James we’ve had Danny Malone a mate from KiwiRail arrive on his latest European trip and Gill, Andre and Josh and Jordan jet in from the UK.

In the last few days we’ve been sightseeing in Pisa, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano and Volterra. We’ve eaten out in cafe’s, our local pizza restaurant and a restaurant with a carpark that turns into seating at night. We’ve laid by the pool, we’ve made a dent in the national stock levels of Chianti and Birra and generally had a great time.

A mixed assortment of pictures follow.