We started the day with breakfast at the hotel (croissant, nutella, fruit, caffe latte), then checked out and took a bus to the airport to pick up a rental car. We decided (I begged) to pick up the car at the airport so that I wouldn't have to drive in the city center. The streets were so narrow in Florence and pedestrians everywhere, it just seemed like a good idea for my sanity. I was the driver for the three days we had the rental because it cost about $350 less to rent a standard transmission than an automatic. I loved the tiny Fiat Punto with it's switchblade-style key! Never made it to 6th gear though.
We plugged in the GPS and headed out to the Tuscan countryside. We did stop at a McDonald's first! International McDonald's are interesting and it was a little break from the pasta/pizza. I only forgot to engage the clutch a time or two (at a toll booth, oops!). The GPS plus passenger navigators got us to the Bed and Breakfast without any trouble. It was a really steep rutted-out dirt road climb at the end though! I learned over the two days there how to maneuver just right up and down that hill.
Jennifer had been emailing with Heidi, the owner of the inn and she'd suggested we arrive between 5 and 7PM to enjoy a drink on the terrace, but I think it was a little after 3 when we found ourselves there -- with a closed gate and no call button. We thought about it for a while and Jennifer went out to check the gate, but didn't see any opening. So we tried calling the number from the email, but the calls didn't go through. Finally, Jennifer and Rich decided to take a nap while we waited for someone to notice us sitting out there. I tried to wait patiently, but I just couldn't so I got out of the car and climbed over the gate. I knocked on the first door I found... no answer. I wandered around and finally found a crazy old spirally bell attached to a long chain so I yanked it. I heard, "Hallo??" from somewhere above me and down came Heidi. Turns out the gate wasn't locked after all!
So we drove in and came out to look around.
The inn is called Le Due Volpi
(The Two Foxes), and has beautiful gardens, stone paths, amazing views!
What a cute key!
We carried our bags up to the room, had a lesson from Heidi on how to make espresso, then went for a walk to take a look around. There was a farm up the hill from the inn.
Back at the inn, we were served a bottle of local wine, some olives and crackers by Lorenzo, Heidi's husband. Lorenzo spoke no English, but he loved to talk anyway! We were never really sure if he was kidding and did understand us or if he just couldn't stop himself from explaining things in Italian even though we couldn't understand. We saw pictures later of his early years as an Italian cycling champion in the 1960's.
Sunset in Tuscany, sigh.
We got a dinner recommendation from Lorenzo (translated by Heidi) and went into Vicchio to look for the restaurant. It took a little searching on foot after parking on the square, but we finally found it. We were definitely the only Americans there. We had a nice meal, I think I had a pappardelle pasta with sausage -- delish but no photo this time. We learned about Tuscan bread (it has no salt), and even though one of the Italian phrases we "mastered" was "Il conto, per favore" (Check please) we waited over an hour. No rushing the dinner experience in Italy!
Labels: Italy, travel, Tuscany