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Got a couple of shots in the apartment before heading out today.
This is the day we’ve been waiting for and what this vacation is all about: the beginning of 2 weeks at the villa, La Colonica, in the small town of Marciano Della Chiana. We spent 1 week here in 2015 with our good friends, Charles and Cheryl (hereinafter referred to as C&C) Ryan, from Port Hope. They’re going into their final 2 weeks of a 9 week stay.
We were picked up this morning at 9:45 for the drive through the streets of Rome, busy with the usual big city morning hustle. We arrived at the train station with about 15 minutes to spare – a good thing I had moved the pick-up time up by a half hour and the driver was 15 minutes late – before boarding the train to Castiglion Florentino. In total, it was about a 2 hour train trip, which included a 20 minute stop in Arezzo to switch trains for the final 10 minute trip to Castiglion. There was a 20 minute delay between Rome and Arezzo due to a technical problem, but the engineer pushed it and had most of that time made up by the time we arrived in Arezzo.
When we arrived in Castiglion, C&C were waiting for us with smiling faces and hugs all around. Great to see them again! It’s about a 10 minute drive from the train station to La Colonica. It’s been 4 years, but it’s all familiar.
One of the owners, David, was outside when we arrived. He and his partner, Cesare, live in the original farmhouse beside the villa (this would be called a ‘cottage’ in England). With C&C’s 4 trips here, David and Cesare have become very good friends. David is originally from Ireland and Cesare is Italian and speaks very little English. David is a wonderful man and it was great to see him again.
Things haven’t changed much here in the past 4 years. Certainly not the view over the Val di Chiana to the mountains and Cortona in the distance. What a wonderful place! We just got here, but we want to come back. Maybe in September? What is it about this place that makes it so….relaxing, peaceful…. The scenery, the people, the atmosphere, the attitudes, the lifestyle, etc., etc. Italy has it’s faults like any other country, with screwed up politics and very high immigration, which has been out of control for the past couple of years. But here in Tuscany, it’s the perfect place and we can’t wait to soak up every bit of it over the next 2 weeks.
Cheryl had made lunch for us: a very tasty asparagus soup, fresh bread, egg salad, all washed down with a local red wine (I haven’t fallen off the wagon, I’ve just stepped out of it for a couple of weeks). We caught up on what they’ve been doing with family and another friend, who have visited over the past 7 weeks, then they brought out the calendar to show us what’s planned for our stay. Can’t wait to return to some familiar places, like Lucignano, on Sunday, to take in the first day of their week long festival. We’ll visit Volterra, one of the many Tuscan towns that the Medici Netflix series was filmed, and Cevita di Bagnoregio, a hilltop town that was founded over 2500 years ago. The plateau has been eroding and the buildings crumbling; however, project began in 2004 to reinforce the plateau with steel rods and the town is being restored. It is only accessible via a pedestrian bridge. I’ve wanted to get there since I first saw Charlie’s photo of it a couple of years ago.
So, dinner. Now here’s a story! There’s been a reality TV show here that traveled around the country looking for Italy’s best truck stop. Ristorante Podere Le Caselle, in Marciano Della Chiana, was named the best. The restaurant is owned by an artist, whose eclectic collection adorns the walls. No doubt being named the best truck stop in the country has picked up business for them. The place was very busy and the waitresses were hustling. The meal was delicious: we all shared an antipasta tray, Cheryl and I had spaghetti carbonara and I ordered lamb and pork skewers for the 2nd course, Bonnie had grilled chicken breasts and Charlie had a steak.
The rest of the evening back at the villa was spent in conversation until 9:30. The ladies retired to read in bed, Charlie watched a bit of TV, while I caught up on the blog.
Looking forward to a great day tomorrow! The weather forecast is looking good.