Thursday, April 9, 2009
On Tuesday we visited one of the charming hill towns of Italy, a walled town called Monteriggioni, the home of the most renowned Festa Medievale of its kind in Italy. This festival is held each year in mid July. Built in the 13th century, Monteriggioni had very little work done until the 16th century and it is virtually intact. Today it exists entirely for tourists and pilgrims, although as late as the 1960’s it was a sleepy village of farmers and sheep herders. Once inside you are transported to a different time. Its shops, wine shops, and tasting rooms line narrow streets of cobblestone, and there are no vehicles, other than an occasional truck delivering goods. We stepped into the pretty Romanesque church that faces the main Piazza Roma. There are also restaurants and hotels. We found Monteriggioni restful and enchanting.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
It was surreal to land in a different country, and yet there was a sense of familiarity. Overall we didn’t have too much trouble navigating the tasks of finding the baggage claim and the place where we had reserved our car rental. Our car was a Fiat, a stick shift, which was a bit for Ari to get used to but it didn’t take long before he was driving like the best of the Italians. It seems there are no driving rules in Italy, and situations come at you fast. We had printed out maps and driving directions which made things somewhat less stressful. The challenge was that we were tired from the long flight and still had to drive from Milan to Badesse which is about a 4 hour drive. With the narrower highways, the unfamiliar road signs, the toll stops, the huge trucks on the road, and the numerous tunnels, the drive was a bit harrowing, but we made it. Had we to it over, I think we would have planned an overnight in Milan.
The Best Western Residenza Badesse Apartment Hotel was off the beaten path, fairly easy to find, and we were pleasantly surprised upon arrival to find that an envelope with our name on it on the reception desk with the key to our room in it (an old fashioned key, not a card that you swipe) waiting for us. The hotel reception was only open certain hours. Our room was an apartment with a kitchenette and a balcony. The space was plentiful for the two of us, quite clean and peaceful.
Next activity, dinner! What else would we do but get pizza? This involved a quick drive to the outskirts of Siena where we found a take out place with excellent pizza and a bottle of Chianti to take back to the motel. Ahh, this is the life!