Last week I received an invite to visit a friend near Siena. Let’s face it Siena is a beautiful town and only just over two hours driving from Bellaugello Gay Guest House, my friend has a charming house in deepest ‘Chiantishire’ with views over rolling hills to the towers of San Gimignano, a house full of dogs meaning Bobby and Jenny were also welcome, a very well stocked wine cellar and an abundance of warm hospitality, so it was an invite I could not and would not refuse. Car packed, dogs beds, food and towels more luggage than for me, off we all set.
It is funny how I am so used to a simple country life that on reaching the raccordo – the bypass that skirts Perugia and discovered a traffic queue because they are doing major repairs to the many tunnels that no longer meet modern safety standards, I got frustrated and racked my brain to think of alternate routes. Yes, the traffic delay was in reality less than five minutes but I am used to hopping into my car and just driving uninterrupted to where I want to go. I have long ago forgotten the habit of sitting for an hour in standing or slowly crawling traffic or having to plan journeys around office, football match and school hours. Many things I miss but traffic jams are definitely not one of them.
A great few days away, lazy, spoilt and a day trip into Florence. Now Firenze is a city I love, I was wrapped up warm grey skies and a breeze, and yet it was mild and happily rather tourist free so I got to see some of my favourite sights without having to elbow my way through madding crowds.
I went off to hunt for trays to discover that since I was last in Florence many changes have taken place including the total pedestrianisation of the piazza Duomo and the removal of large stretches of the street market. Now I used to love the open market, stalls overflowing with leather goods, textiles, and the decorated trays I was searching for. The stalls used to be peopled by traditional Florentine craftsmen, the slang bartering part of the joy, but over recent years I have noticed that they are being replaced by foreign traders, so I guess the resistance for change was no longer there and the stalls are retreating to the area immediately surrounding the covered market. Lunch upstairs in the covered market, mostly Florentines and a wide choice of fresh cooked food. A juicy beefburger with Chianina ground beef and Tuscan pecorino accompanied by a rich glass of Chianti classico, deliscious! On the way out I noticed a new cooking school, very stainless steel and inviting:
indeed tempting! These days Florence has so much to offer. So guys follow my lead and enjoy a day out in Firenze whilst staying at Bellaugello. Driving is easy, by the summer the tunnels will be finished and access to car parking in the city is well signed.