Friday: Viareggio

Today was mainly a relaxing day. I did some reading and some work, and we went to lunch in the city – the same restaurant as Tuesday since we liked it so much. I have been eating squid at every opportunity since it is so fresh and we don’t have it often/ever in the Midwest.

We did some planning for the weeks ahead and walked around the city.

Of course it was raining.

Photos (it was not much of a photo day, especially with no sun) – a typical apartment building in the city; my favorite food around here; our home here.

Thursday: Siena

We left our fabulous Scandicci villa this morning and headed to the walled city of Siena where we will spend the next few days.

It is hard for me to believe that once again we parked our car and then hours later could not find the lot. Here’s how easily it can happen in a walled city: (1) park the car, (2) walk in via the grand arched entrance (there are about five of them in Siena, I have come to learn), (3) walk around inside the walled streets with very few cars, have lunch, walk into a few shops, walk along some narrow almost-alleys to look around, (4) decide to get the car and check in at our hotel.

Attempts to retrace our steps didn’t work. We had walked all over in the three hours we were there. Yes, we had taken photos of where we parked, but that that didn’t help because there are so many entrances to the walled city, each about a 15 minute walk.

I put the parking receipt address in my phone and it brought us to a lot on the other side of the city, maybe the main lot but not where we were parked.

It rained, sometimes very hard in the 90 minutes we were searching. Finally we saw an available taxi and I showed the driver our parking receipt. He knew where the lot was located based on its name, which my GPS didn’t recognize.

It turns out it was a surprisingly long 10- minute cab ride away. I don’t know how we would have found the car otherwise. We would likely still be walking around.

We checked in at our charming old hotel, our clothing stuck to us from the rain. The receptionist, Alicia, was a gem, telling us in her very sweet English that she would give us the “best room possible” and then she walked us to it (I guess so we wouldn’t get lost).

We will explore more of Siena tomorrow. We can leave our car at the hotel and use the map Alicia gave us.

photos: bike outside a restaurant in Siena; lunch starter; this bar made me smile as we walked by

Saturday: Collodi

(I am not sure why this post came up blank for a few days, but I only realized it thanks to my friend, Daniela. I’ll summarize my original post.)

Collodi is an interesting and somewhat quirky little town and the place where Carlo Collodi created Pinocchio. It was on our way to Scandicci, where we will stay for the next five days, so we made a stop there.

What a delightful place. We walked around the gorgeous gardens of Garzoni – the 17th century estate built by one of the most important families of the time. Probably because it is so huge and expensive to maintain, some of the upkeep seems to have slacked off but the stairways and statues are beautiful. We enjoyed checking out the expansive grounds.

We had lunch at a cafe next door and then walked around seeing the cute Pinocchio-themed everything that is a huge part of the town’s livelihood.

We took a series of winding dirt roads to the absolutely perfect Tuscany villa where we are staying. If not for GPS, there would be no way to find Pinocchio is at the entrance to the town; the entrance to the gardens; waterfall statue at the GarzoniĀ  gardens