September 20 - 23
09.20.2010 - 09.23.2010
We said bonjourno to Venice about mid-morning and began our drive to tuscany where we were staying at a farmhouse with spectacular views of the tuscan landscape and a treacherously steep gravel driveway. We attempted that evening to go to a nearby town for dinner, but when Carlette tried to get our car back up the steep gravel drive with our manual drive car (no automatic cars to be had in Europe by the way) we kept sliding back down and at one point into a rose bush. Carlette, who had a fear of hills, got out of the car and refused to drive any further. She walked up the hill to wait for us. Susie, our most experienced mountain driver, got us up the hill and finally into town which was another treacherous journey. Everything you have ever read about italian drivers is correct so beware because they will run you off the road in a minute. Unable to find the restaraunt we were searching for, we opted to pick up some pasta and salad from the grocery to cook at the house, so that we could hopefully get back before dark. We were not at all certain we could find our little hidden getaway on the winding road in the dark.
We spent the next few days, taking in the countryside and searching for hidden vineyards down every donkey and goat path we came across, which proved to be another treacherous endeavor after a smoking clutch and a gashed back tire (discovered on the top of one the mountains). We were rewarded for our efforts; however, when we met many interesting people along the way including two 17 year old girls from Austria who were working at a winery for 14 weeks as a part of their education. These girls spoke 3 languages, german, english and a little french. We also met a fellow American whose husband's family ran a small winery. We learned alot about the making of wine and of olive oil. It seems that nearly all of the vineyards also grow olives and after learning the process of making olive oil (1 tree makes approximately 1 liter of oil), you do not wonder at the price of it in the stores (although it is much cheaper here than in the states). We also enjoyed the small villages of Asciano, a non turisty town where you really get a real picture of italian life, and Cortona, the ancient village where the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" was filmed. We were a little disappointed; however, when we discovered that the famous fountain in the movie where Francesca frolicked was not a part of Cortona at all but was only there for the movie, oh well.