Tuesday: Vichy

We had a relaxing Tuesday in Vichy. After a couple of raisin pastries and coffee at a patisserie in the city, we were off to the Hall des Sources. This 1903 building is where the medicinal Vichy water is sourced. The water is said to cure all kinds of ailments and to be good for overall health. There are a few different thermal springs in the city and sourced in the building, but only one of them is accessible to the public. The others are only available with a doctor’s note.

We tried the water. First you have to buy a cup from a machine. It is sort of funny to insert €.25, press a button, and have an empty cup drop out, but that is what happens.

The water is from an ancient-looking faucet and tasted slightly salty, not refreshing. I had read that people fill up bottles there, and they must be forcing themselves to drink the water because really, it was not good.

Next we checked out the old opera house. The building is beautiful and used for all types of performances now. There is nothing scheduled until a dance troupe this weekend.

We had lunch and walked around the park, then went back to where we are staying so that I could attempt to consolidate some of our luggage.

photos: on the doors of the opera house; the Hall des Sources; holiday stars in the park

Tuesday: Viareggio

Today we explored the seaport city and found that it is wonderful. It was a nicer day that yesterday, with the sun occasionally peeking through the clouds.

We went to the yacht building area alongside the Tyrrhenian Sea and checked out some of the huge boats in progress, getting as close as we could near the off-limits work area. The nearby marina was chock-full of fantastic-looking boats. I cannot imagine what summer must be like here, since even with few tourists around (well, we saw none aside from ourselves) the city seems bursting at the seams.

We walked along the beach and the sea was sure acting like the ocean today, with waves one right after the other. The temperature seemed to be about 60 degrees F, and it would’ve been fun to take a dip if I had thought to toss my suit in the car.

We had lunch at Trattoria Giorgio, a charming restaurant that was on a side street from the beach. My spaghetti with squid was excellent, as was my traveling partner’s spaghetti with clams. In talking with the owner, we learned that his father started the restaurant fifty years ago. He got sad talking about his dad, who must have worked so hard to get the small restaurant going.

Yesterday, our Airbnb host suggested a patisserie in town, so we stopped there before going back to our rental house. Well, I jumped out of the car since there was nowhere to park and tons of traffic at 5pm.

photos: Viareggio looks a little llike parts of Florida. The bike lane is as busy as the road at some times of day; a part of the marina; a hangar for mbvaking huge yachts. There’s one in progress on the right.

Saturday: Siena

Today was another rainy day in Siena, but that’s okay. We still made the most of it.

After breakfast at the hotel, we headed out for a stroll around the city. We ended up at the Museum of Torture, which I never should have gone into. Medieval methods of torture are so awful that I get nauseous just thinking about them. Sure enough, this museum was certainly well equipped, with ancient gizmos designed to get a person to admit their guilt, suffer horribly, and slowly die.

I walked the experience off and we had lunch at Osteria Babzuf, a restaurant the hotel staff had recommended. We were glad they did – it was a small cafe, it had delicious food, and it was a comfortable, relaxing stop.

We browsed around some shops after that. An interesting butcher shop, La Bottega a Rosano, has been around for over 300 years, passed down from fathers to sons. The entire family apparently lives upstairs and it is a tiny shop, made smaller by the many types of meat hanging from the ceiling and salami displayed in the cases. Photos are not allowed – they aren’t trying to be a tourist attraction. Still, it was a fascinating place to see.

It rained off and on for the rest of the late afternoon and evening, heavily at times. We spent some time in a patisserie waiting for it to lighten up and eventually went back to our hotel.

photos: fun tiny art at Osteria Babzuf; the Piazza del Campo; a room at the torture museum, I photographed none of what I saw there.