Sunday, October 15th, 2000 Fiesole
Up early again, Jim went into the Lobby area and read for several hours. Mentioned how you could hear things from people’s room, including my sneeze after I woke up! About 7:30 am we were in the breakfast room where we finally talked with the group of women. There are about eight of them. One is the tour guide. She said she’d spent about a year in Europe preparing for this job. She got her group together by word of mouth. Two are real estate agents and they are all from the San Francisco area. I mentioned a friend's name that I work with on state committees to one and she said, the crazy one with the husband who does rock stars. Yep, one and the same. Small world.
On the road to Assisi by 8:15 by way of the A1. Went off on the smaller road by about 9:30 and by 10:45 we were in Assisi. Raining! Found parking at the top end of town and started walking with umbrellas. Found several churches, some with Mass going on. By the time we found St. Francis Cathedral it was pouring! But did get to see the restored mosaics in the ceiling that were damaged during the recent earthquake. Then the long trudge back up to the top of the town where we were parked. Back to the car about 12:30 with photos, postcards and memories. Paid the fee to get the car out of parking and went on our way, eating breakfast sandwiches in the car and attempting to dry our shoes and socks as we went! My digital camera stopped working at our second church. When the batteries go, they really go! Good I had an extra set of batteries with me.
We were especially impressed by how much of the town has been repaired from the major earthquake they suffered several years ago. There were complaints because the government repaired the church (which brings in the money from tourists) before their homes. But we didn’t see any “steel huts”. Beautiful job; lots of construction still going on all over town. Couldn’t believe the crowds even with the rain. As we headed back down the hill; the one and only way into town, there was a major traffic jam. At least twenty tour buses and a huge number of automobiles were caught in it. And as we continued down, more tour buses were headed up the hill; unaware of the traffic jam in front of them! It’s little things like this that make you happy you have your own transportation!
On the road to Cortona, another hill town made famous by Frances Mayes when she wrote, “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Didn’t find her house, but did find a wonderful town that we’d like to go back to visit some day. [Yes...we stayed there on a future trip and did find the famous house from the book!] One could spend at least two nights in this beautiful place. Wonderful views of the surrounding countryside; but too rainy to take photos. Did find their Cathedral Di Cortona and took some photos there. Left town about 3:13 and headed back to Fiesole. Still raining, but not nearly as hard as in Assisi. But, shoes and socks got wet all over again so we drove home barefoot with the heater going! We were back to the A1 Autostrassa by 3:55 and off the A1 at Firenze Sud (south Florence) by 4:45 pm. Followed the signs to Fiesole and made it back to the hotel by 5:00 pm.
We’ve decided not to dress for dinner tonight. We leave early tomorrow morning for the south of Italy; Amalfi which is south of Rome and near Naples.
They moved Bob and Carolyn from Little Rock next to us and we had a delightful dinner with them. After dinner we met in the parlor and went over maps with them as they start driving tomorrow to the various hill towns that we’re already been to. Rain stopped about 6 pm and the evening was beautiful outside. Clear skies! Before retiring we settled the account. Good thing we’d gotten extra money as they only accepted cash and Jim had missed the “per person” rate! It was double what he’d expected. But we still felt it was worth every penny. But, that does make this one our most expensive hotel of the trip!