Tag Archives: Tuscany

Day Thirteen – Tuscany 2015

Today Dawn, Warren, Michele and I have been off to Florence whilst Adam and Joshua have had a day at the Park Albatross looking after themselves. This was not because we didn’t want to take them it was because they elected to stay off their own choice.

Adam was dropped off at our caravan at 10:00 but Josh was still asleep so he spent the first 40 minutes entertaining himself on the iPad. Josh finally awoke and they had time down by the pool and also the main bar area. They’d both been left with €20 for the day too so they could organise some food or play pool.

Meanwhile we were of to Florence. Warren has offered to drive the 1 hour 45 minute drive which gave me the opportunity to take in the Tuscan countryside rather than concentrate on the driving. Thanks Warren I appreciated that. We drive via the autoroute heading first north towards Pisa and then heading east towards Florence. There was only on short section of toll road which was between Park Albatross and Pisa which only cost €4.70, the rest of the trio was a dusk carriageway. Warren had rehearsed the final section of the trip into Florence and the access point to the car park on Google Maps so it wasn’t too stressful. He’d chosen an underground car park by the main station and we were soon parked up.

A quick walk through the station and we were onto the tourist route heading towards Il Duomo di Firenze (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, Florence). Wow what a fantastic building. The white marble with the intricate carvings over ask four sides. This would have taken years even with a hundred stonemason’s. The queue to get in was relativity short. Both Dawn and Michele had already prepared themselves fit the trip by bringing other clothing to cover their shoulders up as this is one of the rules of entry. However if they hadn’t there was an army of locals selling scarf’s to cover up with. The internal space was as equally as impressive with the wide open chamber and vaulted roof. There main roof which is the dome is directly over the alter and was a painted frieze with many characters. The floor was also an intricate pattern of inlaid marble. The internal walls where decorated in places with carvings of saints and there were a couple of stained glass arched windows.

Now back out into the heat of Florence we came across a wedding taking place at Piazza dela Republican, there seemed to be a large continent of police and plain clothes police so that got Dawn and I guessing whose wedding it was only to be told later that it was fit the Israeli prime minister who was visiting Florence! We ambled around the quaint streets heading towards the Bridge over the river. The bridge looked like a setting from Charles Dickens’s London and on either side of the main tourist bridge (Ponte Vecchio) where the jewelers shops ask selling their fine gold jewellery. From here we headed over towards Palazzo Pitti which looked like a large Roman villa with a walled garden. We elected not to go in as we were running out of time and both Warren and I agreed that maybe a weekend trip to Florence was in order so as to explore further.

Similar to Rome, Florence has an abundance of churches of all varying styles and every street corner send to have a picture of a saint or depicts what looks like Mother Mary.

The city is a warm place to be with no breeze so we had plenty of stops for water just to keep hydrated.

We stopped for our evening meal just at the back Il Duomo di Firenze (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, Florence) and had the most delightful meal even though service want the best. Warren had pasta and seafood, Dawn had pasta and broccoli, Michele had risotto and I had pasta with salmon.

As we headed back to the car you could see the for of people changing from the day trip tourists to the tourists who were staying over night and starting to come out for their evening meals all dressed up.

No back to the car, the access point was not the best part of town as there seemed to be groups of men hanging about who looked homeless, if you visit makes sure you find another access point to the car park after dark.

The drive back have us some great views of the Tuscan hillsides shrouded in an orange glow as the sun was setting on the Mediterranean, just a pity my camera battery was flat!

Back at Park Albatross we caught the boys up who seemed to have had a great day to themselves.

Day Seven – Tuscany 2015

First up again today which doesn’t surprise me, so off to the pool and bakery I went.

I’m getting quite good at this placing the towels on the sun loungers before the Europeans get the best spots!

The bakery was mayhem again no orderly queue, I wonder what they’d do without the ticket machine telling them who was next in line? I avoided the croissants that are plain as the comments I got from Michele and Joshua was they weren’t sweet enough. So this time I went for the flavoured ones which happened to be filled with a custard filling. I do agree they were better but not up to the same level of expectations as the French version. I also acquired 2 sandwich loaves for lunch one white and one brown. This meant I was also able to have toast with my boiled egg. Michele was ready with the coffee when I got back which was welcomed.

I was ready before the other two for the pool so off I set and was on my sun lounger by 10:00hrs sharp. Michele joined me about 45 mins later and Josh didn’t appear until about noon. I think he’s morphing into Lewis with the amount of sleep he’s doing!

For the first time in a week we had a conversion in English with someone else as we got chatting with a couple (Sarah and Richard – Dawn you don’t need to worry we’ve not found Donald and Jacqueline yet!) from Gloucester and their 4 daughters (20, 18, 15 & 13). They’d just arrived from the Venetian coast on the Adriatic not to o far from Ca Savio where we had stayed twice before. They’d had a week in a tent. They had no car and has traveled by water ferry from Punta Saboni to Venice, then water bus up the Grande Canal to the train station in Venice and caught the train to Pisa before changing train to a local station a couple of km away. They seemed a nice couple he was quite but having 5 women in the house he may struggle to get a word in!

The weather has been warm but a little cloudy today, I hope that’s not a sign of things to come with Warren and Dawn arriving tomorrow? But it didn’t stop us chilling by the pool all day. By the time we left the pool for tea at 18:00hrs I’d been there for a total of 8 hours. Michele says I’m now barred from the pool and also sitting in the sun as I’m far too tanned for her liking. I must say though that Michele is starting to change color too but not at the same rate as me. That must be the Italian in me that’s starting to come out ?

Showered, fed and now drinking a cool Birra Moretti as I write my blog and watching the kids race around the caravans on their bikes.

It’s not surprising that we have dominated Le Tour De France over the past couple of years as the kids here don’t have pedals on their bikes but use their feet to scoot along, I’m sure Sir Dave Brailsford has nothing to worry about with the next generation beating Team Sky and Team GB.

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Day Six – Tuscany 2015 – A Day Trip to Piombino

Another cloudless sky today with temperature in the early 30’s according the the thermometer on a shop wall, so no complaints here.

Josh was up quite late this morning so it was just after 11:00 when we set off in the car in the direction of Piombino for a day out. Piombino is about 20 minutes drive down the coast.

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The first obstacle was turning left out of the campsite and into the busy road. Not easy so I decided to push my way out, a gap opened up so as I moved forward and noticed a family attempting to cross the zebra crossing so I stopped to let them cross. Next i had an irate Italian man in his latter years moaning through my drivers window. He was on a scooter, so I’d either not seem him zipping down the road or he didn’t agree with the Englishman letting people cross! I smiled, waved nicely and said sorry which didn’t help as I got more of his Italian voice snapping at me before he scooted off into the distance! That’s twice now we’ve nearly crashed the other day coming away from Lucca I nearly rear ended the car in front again trying to turn left! Note to self – have more patience when turning across traffic to go left.

We finally made it to Piombino and parked up on a side street, I checked with a local if it was pay and display as most of the street parking appears to be in the blue bays. Yellow bays seem to be for residents only parking. This time it was €3 for 5 hours. Again cheap enough.

We seemed to have parked in Piombino”s old town that was about the size of the old town in Ibiza if you’ve been there? The streets seemed to be narrow and access was by foot only. Good job I’d parked where I did we didn’t want another escapade like we had in Lucca! Wandering through we found the old harbour which seemed only big enough to take about 15 small dinghy’s. There were a couple of couples laid sunbathing on the harbour wall. Just past the harbour was a paved outcrop with a small lighthouse. The views from this point out to sea were the large island of Elba was not too far away and if you looked into the distance you could see the faint outline of the island of Capri. There seemed to be a steady flow of shipping traffic between Piombino and the island of Elba with some largish ferries traveling between the two ports.

As we mooched about we cane across the old castle but there seemed to be no access to the inner parts of it. I did read a sign that said that the castle was used as a prison up to the mid 1990’s but it’s now a tourist attraction. But to be a tourist attraction they have to let you in, don’t they?

Josh then asked when lunch was, and as always with Joshua if he asks for food you feed him. We found a small bar serving Panini’s so stopped to eat. Both Michele and Josh elected to have toasted sandwiches (I think this was because they saw a picture of one on the menu!), I ordered a panini with a filling. We also ordered fanta, water and café (espresso). Or at least I think we did as the waitress didn’t understand too much English. The espresso seemed to come from another café a couple of doors up the road – odd! Then a man appeared on the table behind us and started to feed the pigeons on the table, to the annoyance of the Italian family next to us who moaned at him. So he threw the bread on the floor between the tables and brought more pigeons down. He was moaned at again by the other Italian man and then seemed to stop. But now we had quite a gathering of pigeons on the floor pecking at the bread. The food arrived and looked OK. Josh had a sulk as his toasted sandwich had cheese on as well as ham. There was me thinking that a toasted sandwich had both cheese and ham as standard! My panini had all sorts on, I think there was cheese, ham, tomato’s, anchovies as well as some form of mayonnaise sauce. Nice all the same. The espresso was hot and strong. Lunch only cost €11.50.

Now back to the pounding of the streets. Again we tried to find the access point into the castle and couldn’t all gates were locked. Josh was in is need of his daily fix of Wi-Fi and remembered seeing a sign advertising Wi-Fi zone near the lighthouse so off we went. But no good he couldn’t get connected – So we had another sad face 🙁 a quick stop for ice cream seemed to cheer him up he had black cherry flavour, Michele had yogurt flavour and I had cream flavour

The drive out of Piombino was busier than the drive in which I think coincided with a ferry arriving from Elba.

Back at Park Albatross I think it was change over day as there seemed to be a lot of activity around the ‘welcome tents’, it also seems we’ve got new neighbours – more Germans according to Joshua. There don’t seem to be many English on the site and if there are they’re not near us – Warren and Dawn won’t have to complete with Donald and Jacqueline for our attention when they arrive after all.

Tonight’s evening meal will be another Italian favourite of spaghetti Bolagnaise (without onions and mushrooms for Joshua of course!).

Update on my ear. It kept me awake several times last night gurgling and crackling away to itself as the drops help to break the obstruction down. More drops today, more gurgling and an ear that can’t hear. Still a benefit to have Michele sit on my left side ?