|View out our living room window in Tuscany, rental apartment|
The culmination of Uncle Ted & Aunt Lisa's visit was a week in Tuscany - a whole week! Bike riding for the guys and sight seeing for the ladies. For any cyclists reading this blog who just got really excited, thinking they'd get a whole bunch of great "cycling in Tuscany" tips and viewpoints, I've got nothing for you. I know nothing about kilometers cycled, height gains, gear, etc. Absolutely nothing. I do know how to drive a chase car, although not very well, since every single day of cycling ended with the guys reaching their destination long before we arrived with the car, clean shirts, and most importantly, comfortable shoes. Have you ever tried walking on hilly, cobblestone covered streets in shoes with big metal, square things stuck to the bottom? Me neither, but it looks hard. Anyway, a week in Tuscany for me means a week in Tuscany for you.
Lodging options are numerous in Tuscany - hotels, B&Bs, Agriturismos (like a farm stay, but nicer than it sounds), house rentals, even stays in castles that dot the countryside. After a little searching, we settled on an apartment rented through VRBO in the tiny, tiny (really tiny) hamlet of San Sano, about 30 minutes from Siena. After about five hours on the road on a beautiful, sunny day, we drove into San Sano and found a little slice of paradise. The village is surrounded by olive groves and wineries and local businesses consist of a hotel, a restaurant, and a salumeria (very small grocery) that doubled as the coffee bar. That's it. San Sano apparently dates back to the 12th century, but you wouldn't guess that from the condition of the buildings. All over Italy, charming villages are filled with buildings that are oh-so-quaintly falling to pieces. San Sano's buildings looked a bit like the Disneyland version of an Italian village - really old appearance, but no crumbling, no peeling paint (since all the buildings were a beautiful, golden stone), no alleys that look a little scary; instead, we walked through the village admiring a town fountain, planters filled with colorful flowers, perfectly manicured lawns, and modern windows and doors.
|"Downtown" San Sano; stairs go up to our rental...I only wish the car was ours, too!|
Our rental apartment was perfectly situated on the corner, upper floor of a complex that has been turned into condominiums, complete with parking and a pool. We had a view over the vineyards at sunset, and in the mornings, we got to watch the hard working gentleman from the bar/restaurant put out his veggies, water his flowers, sweep the street, and in general, do more in about an hour than I accomplish in an entire day. His coffee bar/salumeria had the sign "Nonnino's" (Grandpa's) out front, so we took to referring to him as Nonnino (privately, of course), and he became a great source of conversation. No morning was complete without the first to rise in our apartment updating all the others on Nonnino's morning activities. I particularly took great joy in sitting with a cup of tea and a book on the balcony in the morning, enjoying the village coming to life, watching Nonnino making sure all was right in his world, and learning the habits of the residents in this place, my home for an all too short week.