Saturday 15 Oct Greve
Today we left late. Sleep is good. Another fast trip up the Autostrada, around Florence to the south, and down route 222 to Greve. Deep in Chianti country, Greve has a wine museum and a tasting room. The museum has tools, books, bottles and other paraphernalia dating back to the late 1800s.
Friday 14 Oct. The return to Firenza.
On Tuesday, we arranged for tickets to see Michaelangelo’s “David”, usually considered the world’s most beautiful sculpture. We took the Autostrada to Florence. It is necessary to stay in the right lane, as the left is for the “fast” cars. You pass on the left and dive back into the right lane only after carefully looking at least two kilometers behind you. I was comfortable at 120 kph (75 mph), but was frequently passed by folks doing perhaps 160-180. I felt I was standing still.
Thursday 13 Oct
After a drive down the western coast of Italy past Livorno and admiring the steep cliffs to the ocean, Carl, Ann, Marty and Dave turned inland and headed for Volterra. This is an ancient city in a land of ancient cities. It was a center of the Etruscan world, and evideence of occupancy date back to the second and third millenia BC. By 800 BC, Volterra was a thriving community, and as late as 200 BC, held a treaty with Rome, supplying the Roman Legions during the Second Punic War with wheat for the soldiers and timber for the fleet. By this time, all the other Etruscan towns to the south had fallen under Roman dominion.
Wednesday (12 Oct)
Today was Lucca. This city dates from the Etruscan period (1000 BC - 250 BC), hence the name of the region, Tuscany in English, or Toscana in Italian. The Romans conquered the region in 200 BC. The Forum and Amphitheater can still be found, although buried by current buildings (which date from 1000 AD).
Monday Oct 10
We drove up to Pescia, the flower capital of Italy. We wandered through the town, across the old bridge, and down to the Church of San Francesca. The church is on the Plaza Mazzini, and contains the oldest know portrait of Saint Francis, dating from 1235.
Sunday, we drove around Lucca and up to Villa Reale. This is one of the many Villas around Lucca that date from the 15th century and later. They reached their peak following Napolean’s conquest of the area.
Friday - Pisa
We went back to Pisa on Friday for most of the day. I was surprised, but they actually let you climb up the tower. There are a lot of steps. The steps are all very well worn, as you’d expect from centuries of feet climbing up them. Climbing the tower is very odd. It is a large spiral staircase that leads up to the 7th floor. Here they number all their floor starting with the ground floor, or 0, then 1st floor etc, so 1st floor is not the ground floor. 0 based indexing! As you climb however, you move around the tower, and the slant of the tower is very apparent. Sometimes you’re leaning against the outside wall, sometimes the inside wall. Sometimes you feel like you’re falling down the stairs, othertimes the stairs are really really steep.
We’re in Italy! Tuesday and Wednesday were spent on planes. It’s about 3 hours from Phoenix to Atlanta, about 7 hours from Atlanta to Paris, and then about 2 hours from Paris to Pisa. Ann and Mark managed to get some of their luggage lost, but there’s some hope that it will show up today or tomorrow.