Saturday, October 14th, 2000 Fiesole
Up early, about 7 am, and had breakfast before 8:00. Missed Georgette and Jean. We had a note from them when we returned this evening on more information on Provence. On the road by 8:30 headed south across Florence. Arrived on the road to Siena by 9:30 am. It’s quite a distance to get across Florence, but necessary to get out into the Tuscany area.
Stopped in Monteriggioni, recommended by Shane (Canadian) about 10:15 and stayed about a half-hour. It is a completely walled city on top of a hill in Tuscany that still has about 80 people who live there. There was a beautiful four star hotel, the only hotel in town. Our friends are staying here when they leave Fiesole. It’s about 300,000 Lire a night. Then back to the car and off to Siena.
Arrived in Siena about 11 am. Found parking easily and walked to the center of town to the camponal. As beautiful as we remembered it and crowded with tourist. Found a place on the Campo to sit and enjoy the view while we had a coke and used their bathroom!! Found the information but the public bathrooms were back up the hill and I needed one NOW! It was so nice there that Jim ordered a dish of pasta. Took forever to arrive and appeared to be frozen and then microwaved. Due to the time it took from ordering to delivery, we think that they went to the store to purchase it also! But, Jim said it did taste good! It was in a paper dish and the some of the plastic wrap was still on the edges! It was trying to rain and as the drops came they would put the awning out and then wind it in, wind it out and wind it in! But, we did stay dry. Never did more than lightly sprinkle on us all day! Sun was out most of the day and we were in short sleeved shirts with occasional windbreakers.
After watching the people in the top of the town tower, we decided to take the hike. It had been closed for repairs when we were here with Barbara in 1994. Only 400 steps and what a view. Actually stood on a six-foot square platform under the main bell with nothing but an iron rail around us! Wind was really blowing, but no rain. It’s 102 meters high.
By 2 pm we’d gotten postcards, seen the Domo and the boar’s head in the meat market. One item of interest; we heard a tour guide telling some tourist in the Domo that the right front door is only open every twenty-five years, the Jubilee Year, for special indulgences reserved for Cathedrals??? Will have to check that one out! But, just in case, we made sure that we walked through the door while we were there!
Back to the car, our lunch from breakfast and off to San Gimignano. We had to back track back past Monteriggioni to reach San Gimignano but we arrived about 3:40 pm. Enjoyed the town which has a history of over a hundred towers, each family trying to outdo the others with height until the city fathers decreed that no more towers could be built! Now there are seventeen of them left and it is known as the city of towers. Lots of hotels in town. Looks like another fun city to visit and possibly stay at in Tuscany.
Headed back towards Siena by 4 pm to go to Cortona and Assisi. Finally decided they were just too far to go so we turned around and headed back to Florence and Fiesole. Arrived by 5 pm. Checked on times for Mass in town and found that there was a 6 pm on this evening. Freshened up and headed into town. Went to the main church. About five minutes to six we were wondering where the priest was when a gentlemen came in ringing a bell to tell the small group of us that had gathered that the Mass was being done in the other church, a small chapel, across the square. That one was packed solid and we had three priest officiating and they did a High Mass.
Back to the Hotel in time to shower and change for dinner. Shane and Bunny along with the retired Delta pilot and his wife from Little Rock, Arkansas; provided good company for dinner. We had vegetable soup or bowtie pasta, pork, cauliflower baked in a sauce and potatoes with a salad of delicious tomato slices. Dessert was cheese, fruit or chocolate cake with a heavy cream sauce. Our bottles of wine from last night were on the table with our room number tags. They had chilled the Blanca wine without our having to request it. Really nice service. After dinner, Shane gave Jim some more tips about Rome while Martha downloaded the photos into the computer for the day. Then we went out to the verandah with most of the other guests and enjoyed the evening breezes and the view of Florence. Off to bed about 10 pm.
Right now it’s about 3 am and I’ve been up for an hour typing in the bathroom so as not to disturb Jim. Woke up about 1:30 and decided to make good use of the time instead of just lying in bed. Think I’ll go read my book for a while and then go back to sleep. We’re due for an early breakfast and off to do Cortona and Assisi tomorrow instead of resting as originally planned.