Sunday, April 3, 2011

PENSIONE BENCISTA outside of Florence.....

Thursday, October 12th, 2000 Travel day to Fiesole.....

Up early, Jim got soaked walking in the rain while trying to get inside several of the churches prior to 7 am. He did get into San Lorenzo and saw a thorn from the crown of thorns. We’d seen the inside of the Dom on our first day during a mass, but never got back inside after that. They keep the churches locked most of the time.

Loaded the car and left by 8:30 am. We found the Rotunda House about 9 am but it didn’t open until 10, so we took photos through the rain of the outside. Headed towards Padova, Bologna and then to Florence. Rain was getting less as we headed east but when we turned south it was raining even harder than in Vicenza! Took the Autostrassa all the way and finally hit blue skies at Ferrera. Arrived in Florence area about noon and then took the slow back roads to our hotel….a necessity since we’d missed our turnoff on the North end of town. Some of the small towns we drove through were heart stopping due to the narrow winding streets that were not even wide enough for one car between the buildings on both sides of the road. Then we had to contend with traffic coming at us from the opposite direction…usually at top speed and sometimes with only inches to spare between us! We were thrilled to reach Fiesole about 2:15 pm. Stopped in town and got directions to our hotel. It’s worth the trouble.

Built in the 1500s as a Private Villa; the Pensione Bencista is located on a hillside high about Florence in the town of Fiesole. You drive down a winding driveway to a large Villa. We spend late afternoons drinking wine and watching the sun set over the city of Florence. Fantastic views and solitude. Breakfast and Dinner are part of the plan. We dressed for dinner. Wine ordered at dinner, if not fully consumed, is left on your designated table with a small tag with your room number. All meals are eaten at the same table for your entire stay. They are always fully booked! Our daughter-in-law Holly stayed with her family while touring Europe over twenty years ago. We found it through the Eye Witness Series of books.

Between arrival and dinner we went back into Fiesole and visited the Museum of Roman ruins in town, which includes a Roman outdoor theater,. They have performances there even though it is in ruins. Back to the hotel we met a British couple named Shane and Bunny. Our dinner companions are Georgette and John (Johnny Walker) from Belgium. We didn’t talk with them until towards the very end of the meal. We thought they were Italian but found out they were speaking very softly in French. Near the end of the meal I glanced at the wife and commented on the meal and she smiled and nodded her head; we asked if they were Italian and that started the ball rolling. They are also celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. They’d done a tour of national parks in USA. They had 3 children and 8 grandchildren. Really nice people.

We also met a couple from Minn. She’d had her wallet stolen out of her purse; she thinks on the bus trip to Florence. Didn’t realize it was gone until she went to pay for a $700 necklace. By the time they returned to the hotel and reported it the people had already tried to make charges on their cards. She was sure she had her purse zipped all the time! Can’t be too careful. Jim is carrying his wallet in his pocket; but only with Italian money in it! We both are wearing body packets for credit cards and passports.

Wonderful evening, drank a whole bottle of wine with dinner. Think we’ll only drink part of one tonight

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