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.

I Mondiali di Rugby – going nero

It’s the business end of the Rugby World Cup and, even in this distant corner of Tuscany, we are feeling the excitement. And we’ll be up early again this coming weekend and heading into Siena to watch the quarter finals and support the All Blacks.

To show our support for the All Blacks, for the next two weeks Toscanakiwi is going black. Well parts of it anyway.

Go the All Blacks.

I Mondiali di Rugby – seconda parte

We were back in Siena for the second All Black game.  Once again the staff at La Birreria performed their magic and found the game buried in the Sky TV menu – as always after the usual fussing and discussions – and we settled in for the duration.

Kiwi's make their presence felt for the RWC in Siena

We were joined by a young Dutch couple who were on holiday in Siena and who were also following the RWC.  Given that the total number of rugby players in Holland is around 5,000 (including men, women and juniors they said) their rugby knowledge was very good.  They were, however, a little surprised when we had the inevitable 10am beer and wine and beer and wine and …

But clearly we weren’t the only Kiwis in Siena watching the game as the photo shows.  The flag was hanging outside the bar we had originally earmarked to watch the games at but which didn’t open early enough for us to able to watch them live.

Apparently the Kiwis had started knocking on the bar door at 10:30am and convinced the staff to open early so they could watch the remainder of the match.  I wonder if a similar approach would have worked anywhere else in the world?

I Mondiali di Rugby

As with many things before, we thought we had a plan for the RWC opening. We had located a Heineken RWC bar in Siena. Through the usual mix of English, Italian and sign language we gleened that it had Sky TV and would be playing the matches.

Given the time difference, the opening ceremony was due to start at 9:30am local time with the first match at 10:30am. That meant heading to Siena at 9am – and being up around 7:30am.

Now this, in itself, was a major challenge as our place doesn’t really stir until around 10am on any given day. (Correction, I don’t stir until around 10am. Jean is up and active much, much earlier.)

We arrived at the bar promptly at 9:30am (wearing our RWC/NZ t-shirts) to find it shut, closed, the exact opposite of open. This was, to say the least, a disappointment. Our plan was in tatters.

We retired to one of the bars that ring the Campo in Siena to regroup and replan. We noticed as we sat down outside the bar – on a beautiful Siena morning – that they had a TV playing behind the counter. It was tuned to an Italian news channel – but it was a Sky TV channel. Could they change it to the right sport channel? Would they?

As with many situations in Italy, our simple request was taken very seriously. A newspaper was obtained and the TV listings checked to find the right channel – 204. The very helpful waitress then disappeared for a few minutes. We waited. The TV channel didn’t change. We waited.

When she returned, she explained that they had opened the other half of the bar and tuned the TV’s in there to the right channel. She showed us to a table, made sure everything was ok and checked if we wanted anything to drink.

She was thinking Cappuccino and was a little surpised when we ordered beer and wine (nothing like that first Heineken at 9:35 in the morning).

It was quite surreal to see New Zealand and the opening ceremony on TV when the view out through the door of the bar was Siena’s Campo. The Sienese opinion of the opening ceremony – very cool.

The game? Not a bad start, but there’s still work to do. Go the ABs!