Friday, 8 November 2013

Farewell Italia (again)

After the entire month of October at Baronci, near Florence, it is time to move to our next phase – Greece. We are very sad to be leaving Italy as we’ve met some wonderful people, seen some amazing sights, had some great experiences, and fallen in love with the place and lifestyle. But, then Greece has a good reputation too …

Santa Brigida, seen from Baronci
Firstly some final words about 
Baronci. It was similar to most of 
our other locations in that it was isolated in the countryside and our own transport would have been a great help to see the local area, so we really only saw the farm, the local town Santa Brigida (possibly the most boring town in Italy), the road to Florence, and Florence itself. Plus a day-trip to Lucca (more later).We didn’t get out and about into Tuscany as much as we had hoped as we didn’t have that many days off and the buses weren’t good, however the trips to Florence made up for that.  It was comfortable living and we ate well – Marina kept her bargain and didn’t repeat any meals over the entire month, except for a couple we requested from her. Like everywhere we’ve been to in Italy the wine was good, cheap, and plentiful. Marina and her two brothers, Vanni and Mimmo were always interesting company as they are well travelled (particularly Africa) and have a very good sense of humour. I particularly enjoyed Vanni’s autobiography of his time in Africa. Still not sure about the stuffed Condor though … Marina was very good to us, taught us a lot about Tuscany, and made sure we didn’t work too hard when the body developed some aches and pains.

Our one side-trip was to the Tuscan town of Lucca. Though not as well-known as the nearby Pisa, it is one of the attractions of Tuscany. It is surrounded by a wall and contains many old towers, one of which you can walk up to get a view over town and admire the trees grown on the top! The central piazza in the town is oval in shape, surrounded by houses and shops. We also enjoyed an exhibition at the Lucca Contemporary Art Centre of works by Henri Cartier-Bresson, the French street photographer.

Autumn arrived while we were here. Though many days were hot during the middle part, we did need the fire lit most evenings and there was a lot of rain during October, often accompanied by impressive thunderstorms. The lack of sunshine was delaying the ripening of the olives so that we only managed a few days of picking and they were still mostly green. Luckily we did manage to pick enough to be able to go to the press with them and sample the outcome.

And we did see two red squirrels as well! 

Our final few days were in Florence, staying with Marina and her son Lorenzo. Marina took us out to a restaurant serving food from Naples which was divine. The simpler the pizza the better. Florence was, again, glorious, with so much to see and do. Our personal highlights would be:
  • The walk up the 400+ steps inside the Duomo which first come out in a balcony inside the top of the central dome where you can stare down at the ants in the church or look at the amazing painting that covers the entire inside top of the dome. Then the walk gets even better as you carry on up and inside the two layers of dome – the dome is composed of one inside another, to keep it light and strong. The stairs lead between the two shells and finally outside to stunning views over Florence. Amazing.
  • Art. Everywhere. Whether it is the buildings themselves, reliefs scattered about on the walls of buildings everywhere, the numerous statues, or the galleries, there is just too much to take in at once.

You can, and we did, spend days walking around the centre going ooh and ahhh ..

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