4 September, 2017
2017 – Volterra Day 1
After a good night’s sleep (who am I kidding?) and a wonderful espresso, we’re ready to conquer the roads of Tuscany. Well, there was more than just espresso for breakfast and I have to share since this IS a food and travel blog.
We had blood orange juice which tasted like a blend of traditional orange juice and grapefruit juice. I love the blood oranges available in Italy and this juice was a perfect complement to our breakfast.Breakfast for me consisted of a hard boiled egg, a few slices of prosciutto and watermelon. The cornetto I chose was not that great so it didn’t get eaten. Dick had a bunch of buffet items. I couldn’t keep up with him to take pictures and besides, it was your run-of-the-mill breakfast fare.
Had to take a picture of the cookies they had out at breakfast. I am trying to figure out if these cookies represent the sun and the moon and the stars – like waking up? Or if they are leftover from the solar eclipse in August. Not breakfast worthy as far as I am concerned and it didn’t seem like they were being consumed by the other guests in the dining room.
Renting a car at the Florence airport. We’ve done this many times before, and it just doesn’t seem to get easier. They couldn’t find the car they had reserved for us (a Fiat) so we were upgraded. No room in this Lamborghini for our luggage, but who needs a change of clothes when you are tootling around Italy in this! Okay, I’ll fess up, they really gave us Renault with lots of room for luggage and space for shopping purchases. Dick was not thrilled.
Tip: When renting a car in Europe, make sure the GPS has an option for English. We did not want to practice our Italian trying to figure out what the GPS lady was saying. It is hard enough to stay on the road! One thing Dick did not check out was how to put the car in reverse which he had to do almost immediately. Luckily he figured it out quickly or we would still be going in circles.
We had to do a legal U-turn (we think it was legal) trying to get out of the airport rental area. MaryLou, this wasn’t quite the corn field experience we have every year when we go to Schlecter’s, but we did have an idea where the turn around was because we had done this the last time we rented a car in Florence. Dick has had good training.
Every once in a while on the road we heard a beeping sound coming from the dashboard. It wasn’t the kind that rings out when you make a correct turn – we really didn’t have many of those. What we realized is when Dick drove 4-5 km over the speed limit it dinged. Well, you can imagine how many times that happened over the course of our travels today.
Some of the beautiful countryside we saw today – some of it more than once!
Lunch at Dario’s . Finding Dario’s was a challenge even with Nemo’s help. The GPS kept taking us up a one-way street under construction. Now if you haven’t been on a street in Italy that is being repaired – let me tell you how this goes. They park the construction trucks every which way (like they do their cars) so there is barely enough room for a small car to pass by and then when they have to stop and drop blacktop, they leave the truck in the middle of the road and just do their work while we waited on the hill behind them. Just so you know, our car has a manual transmission so stuck on a hill behind a truck and trying not to back into the car behind us, which is barely inches from our bumper. I’m praying our insurance will cover any damages on this trip. Not a good sign – first day out and I’m praying.
After three trips around the city and on the same road – GPS just kept sending us back – we finally asked a local how to get to this butcher shop/restaurant. She didn’t speak English and spoke Italian very quickly even after I asked her in Italian to slow down. When she went on her way I asked Dick if he understood anything she said – you can guess the answer to that question.
Out of the city we drive down the road, telling ourselves we really tried and couldn’t find this place, so let’s just move on. Then we get into another town that sounded familiar, so we chanced driving into the city center. We found another local and asked him. He said our destination was straight ahead – and it was!
Best part, we were in time for lunch! Celebrations of wine and appetizers ensued when we stepped into the shop.
We found out that the reservations I made for Ricardo and I were at two different restaurants (Dario owns two restaurants right across the street from each other). Well, that’s not always a bad thing, however, I thought we’d better eat together today so that I make sure he took me with him when he was ready to leave. We had to find the reservations office down the street and clear up our situation. Luckily they had room for me at the “meat” fest.
Lunch was served upstairs on a patio over the butcher shop – family style. We met some interesting people at our table, a young couple traveling here from Japan, a lady and her husband from Australia, and others.
Menu for today, and yes, they served them all!
Meats just kept coming and coming. This restaurant uses 24 cows a week, and they use every part of the cow. Not sure I want to know what they do with the less desirable parts.
The different meats were piling up on my plate. I just couldn’t do this lunch justice. I brought most of my meat back to our apartment for meals later this week.
The beans were fabulous too, and the dessert of olive oil cake. I don’t know how many courses there were – all I know is that it took us almost 4 hours to eat lunch. We did NOT even consider eating dinner tonight! This was a delightful experience…. once!
Podere San Lorenzo apartment. After lunch, we had to drive swiftly to find our apartment before it got dark. We try to punch the address into the GPS but it did not exist. We’re puzzled and didn’t know what to do. So we just start driving (we’d had a bit of wine at lunch so our minds might not have been thinking too clearly). We’re following road signs which were leading us back to Florence. After about 20 miles we figured out this route was not going to work.
Realizing that Siena was in the direction of Volterra where our apartment was located, we punched the city of Siena into the GPS and it started taking on a new route that seemed more reasonable to reach our destination. When we get to the crossroads of turning off to go to Siena, we then punched in Volterra city center and again took our chances that we were headed in the right direction. More praying. At least at this point, we were on an autostrada instead of country roads.
As the sun was descending in the sky, and we get about 4 km from the city of Volterra, we see the sign for our agritourism. Yay!! The apartment is as expected, with a kitchen, fireplace, stone walls, wood beamed ceiling, and a comfortable bed!
We unload our suitcases and order a bottle of wine made here at the property. We sit out by the pool amongst the olive trees and orchard of figs and apples and relax.
We went out to the orchard and picked some figs for our snack/dinner. They have two varieties here and both are melt-in-your mouth delicious!
Carol, Jo, and Cheri, notice the color of this pool? Similar to the neighborhood pool we know and love. Actually, this pool is organic and does turn this green color from time to time. When we arrived, there were a few people taking advantage of the pool, but Nemo’s not sure if he will go in.
Here is the link to our itinerary for the next five weeks in case you missed it in the earlier post: ITINERARY. I’m hoping someone keeps track of us in case we get stuck trying to find our way back to our apartment from a winery or lost trying to find some hill town. The GPS in the car doesn’t seem to work. I’ve planned well just in case – I have enough protein bars and water to last us a day. After that, we’ll have to drink wine. I think that would work since we would get nourishment from the fermented grapes and liquid to quench our thirst. Okay, that’s probably a stretch, but worth thinking about. 😉
This day is done!