Tuesday, May 26, 2009


TUESDAY, MAY 19, 2009 – 131/14 – CANTALENA, ITALY

We have a leisurely start today. Since it is a gorgeous day, we decide to see some more of Tuscany. Our plan is to drive direct to Siena, explore the Cathedral, the main plaza area and drive home. Carolyn packs lunch and we start down the mountain again. As we get to the turn off for the fortress and church, we realize they are open so we turn off and go for a visit. It is a good decision as the views today from the fortressare grand! We can see for miles! The interior of Santa Margherita is quite nice and in very good condition, though I am not too sure I would like to look at the Saint’s body all during the church service!Then we head up the A1 toward Siena. We can see it sitting on the hilltopso we stop and set the GPS for a public parking lot near the Piazza Doumo… hmmm, that seems like a good plan! The GPS takes us right to a gate, through the wall and on to an extremely NARROW street. We twist and turn for what seems like forever and are led to a street that we cannot enter! Then we try following the blue parking arrows; get yelled at in Italian by an irate policeman when we try to turn left and follow the blue parking arrow (when he realizes we are foreigners he is becomes very gracious and says we can’t go that way and points in another direction…no explanation!). At some point Carolyn realizes we will not walk around in Siena today so she starts taking pictures from the car!Next thing we know, we are driving in front of the Cathedral and across the Piazza Doumo! Carolyn tells Dick to stop; she hops out for a picture, blocking traffic of course! By now, all Dick wants to do is “get the hell out of Siena!” before he has a stroke! We try the GPS again and it takes us in a nice little circle, so Dick just takes alleyways that seem to head down hill assuming we will hit the wall eventually!That works and we finally find a gate! Well, I guess we did see Siena from a distance and through the windshield of the car. For future reference, parking is not available within these walled, hilltop towns and the parking outside of the towns is simply too far from the points of interest to be useful for anyone with a walking limitation. Therefore, we go to plan “B”!

Not wanting to drive home on A1, we set the GPS to take us to Asciano. We follow a road that runs along a ridge line with fabulous views of the countryside in both directions. There are gorgeous villasand vineyards all over the surrounding hills….this is the perfect Tuscan picture! We find a perch on the side of the road and have our picnic with a nice view of Siena.Asciano is nice hilltop town, but we do not try to park.Setting the GPS for Sinalunga, we drive on. The road goes right through the plaza at Sinalunga so we get out and stretch our legs and then head to Lucignano, one of our host’s favorite hilltop villages. This little village is walled, but there is actually parking by the gate so we stop. The two or three streets run in a circleall leading to the Piazza Doumo, so it is easy to walk around. The village is very pretty, but it is about 4:00PM and the Italians are still napping so everything is closed and no one is out! The shops close for lunch about 12 to 1PM and do not open until 4 or 5PM! The restaurants do not open until about 8PM!

We head on back to Camucia to pick up some more bread (Everything is very fresh. Nothing is sold in large quantities, the Italians shop every day!) and head on to the “Villa”. By 5:30 we are having our cocktails sitting on a wall watching the valley below. By sunset, the wild horses have returned to the mountain top to play. Except for the fiasco, that was Siena, it has been another wonderful day in Tuscany!

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