It has all been better than we could have expected. We rented a car in Florence and drove down to Siena. Wine, salami, prosciutto and cheese country. I can’t describe the beauty, but the pictures will. It’s like looking at a beautiful scenery painting.
We walked around everywhere in the city which goes back as far as Florence (1100’s with no obvious influence from the Romans or Byzantines) and was initially, the center of the government of Italy before Florence.
The Siena cathedral is remarkably like the cathedral in Florence and made of the same Carrera marble (which by the way is the exact same Italian marble that Michelangelo’s David is made from and also the bathroom counter in the Kingston house!!!!).
When we pulled up to the hotel, we held our breath. It was very understated (like maybe no running water understated). Once you go through the front doors, it was the exact opposite.
You very soon find that the VERY narrow city streets, are shared by many people walking along with cars, very fast motorcycles, bicycles and trucks. Vehicles are restricted to residents, and vehicles servicing the residents (there is just no room). The hotel is inside the city wall so we have to drive into the restricted area.
We had to let the front desk know every time we were driving to and from the city (which was nothing less than a maze) in case we took a wrong turn, we would not get heavily fined by the police (I guess they figured out it would not be smart to fine the hotel guests).
We did figure out that when we adjusted for the time change, we also had to adjust for the dinner schedule. Restaurants do not open until 7:30P. that’s the time we start yawning and putting on our pajamas.
Some Fun Facts we learned driving in Italy:
- There are NO flat, straight roads. Just hairpin turns at a 45% grade.
- Don’t ever enter a hairpin turn on a country road with a 50 foot, three axle tour bus coming in the opposite direction.
- When there is two way traffic, stay as close to the shoulder of the road as possible.
- ALL road shoulders have a 4 foot drop off (as one Italian said to me, “it is survivable”). That’s how they think.
- Narrow lanes, even on the highways. Trucks – when one tire is on the lane line, the other side of the truck has two inches. That bus above came two feet into my 6-7 foot lane. It was survivable.
- ALL trucks have to crossover the lane on a highway on a curve. The rest of the Italians do it for fun.
- Speed limits are just a suggestion. So are solid no passing lines. Italians can’t stand following someone.
- NOBODY drives as slow as I do in Italy.
- There is absolutely NO difference between a Fiat and a Ferrari from the perspective of the Italian driver. All Italians are crazy.
Non-driving related Fun Facts:
- Italians say more with their hands than with their words, and they are not always saying something nice
- In a couple of Piazzas this week, I saw two (obviously related) people have an argument. I think it is more elegant and entertaining than Les Miserables.
- Florence was 100% better TV wise (2 English channels) than Siena. It is the BBC. The BBC only changes their news broadcasts every five days. We are here for four.
The only down side, just like a cruise ship, half the guests (mostly Americans) in this Siena hotel are sick with a virus (including yours truly). The closest thing to medical help is the front desk receptionist. She did call the one doctor in the city and he said he was too busy to see any hotel guests. The Pharmacy was beautiful. But meds are limited. If it doesn’t fit in their beautiful cabinets, they don’t have it. Just trying to power through it. My marker is as long as I can taste the wine, I’m good to go. If it gets worse, I have to go to the hospital or the vet, whichever is closest.
Patti’s looking at house prices.
On to Umbria and then home.