Travelling with my son.
10.09.2017 - 18.09.2017 25 °C
Day 1. London. September 10, 2017.
My son Reese and I decided to spend a week in Italy travelling from Vancouver to Gatwick on Air Transat . The flight was good and we spent time at the Yotel in the Gatwick airport for a few hours before our onward flight to Pisa. The Yotel was great, bunk room, tiny but dark and quiet and a great place for 40 winks to catch up on some missed sleep.
Arriving in Pisa we took the train into town and then lined up for a taxi which took quite a while. We had a map but found it quite confusing so decided to take the cab. Neither of us were in the mood to get lost, especially with suitcases.
Our little hotel is a block away from the Leaning tower and suits our needs. Casa San Tomasso was 69 Euros a nite for two beds and private bath. After dropping off our bags we walked around looking for somewhere to eat , getting lost in the twisting alleyways, but eventually finding a small family run pizza cafe crammed full of locals out for their Sunday evening meal. The Pizza was not bad but the atmosphere was great. We were the only tourists.
Day 2. A mediocre breakfast was included but before that we walked down to the Leaning Tower of Pisa to beat the crowds and get some of the iconic tourist photos.
After breakfast we checked out and made our way to the bus stop and then the train back to the airport for our rental car pick up. A cute little Fiat will be perfect for these narrow roads.
We had a great system where I drove in the morning and Reese in the afternoon so that we both got a chance to see the scenery. Not long after leaving the airport we were pulled over by the police at a large round a bout
They asked for our ID and thankfully we both bought international drivers licences, as I am sure that is what they were looking for. A quick glance and they waved us on. Otherwise we would have been faced with a hefty fine.
Trying to get back into the fast paced traffic at this traffic circle was a real challenge but eventually we were on our way again.
First stop San Gimignano. Doug and I were here a few years ago and loved it. After parking the car outside the walls, (parking is always an exercise in patience in these walled cities) we walked the streets looking in shops and eventually sitting at an outdoor cafe for a great lunch.
This was followed by the best gelato either of us had ever had! None compared for the rest of the trip, and we tried many others.
Our destination was San Quirico d"Orcia, south of Siena, a small walled medieval town that Doug and I stayed at a couple of years ago and loved it. We rented a two bedroom apartment on the main drag ( walking road) above a restaurant. We agreed to meet the owners there at 5PM. We booked Casa Del Bernini on booking.com and the rate was 150 Euros for two nights.
It was a very old building that had been remodelled. But they tried to make it very modern and in my opinion it really lost a lot of its charm in doing so. A lot of the decor looked like it was from the 80s with brass fixtures and retro furnishings and you could tell they did a lot of the work themselves. They were very proud of it however and showed it off with pride. It was huge! Way more than we needed. A large living room kitchen and dining room as well as bathroom with laundry downstairs and bedrooms and another bathroom up stairs.
He showed me the bedroom with large queen bed and then looked like he was ready to go. I said " the other bedroom?" He looked confused. I said, we booked two bedrooms. He said, " there are only two people"
Yes, but this is my son and he's not going to sleep with me.
I guess there was some confusion with the booking. But in the end he graciously opened up the second bedroom for us. We loved the location and having the large space for the two days.
A great restaurant that we went to before was across the street and we enjoyed a delicious meal. I think Reese is a little shocked by the prices in Italy.
Days 3 and 4 were spent exploring the area by car and some of the little towns nearby. We both loved Tuscany. One of my favourite memories is when we were driving past this building on the hill and Reese stopped to take a photo. A car drove up the driveway and we realized it was a winery so we went up to look around.
I bought a bottle of red wine, we stopped at a little cheese store beside our apartment and got some Pecorino ( sheep cheese), fresh bread from the bakery and olives from the deli both beside our apartment.
We sat in the kitchen, on our devices, not talking but enjoying the amazing feast before us. We both agree it is one of the best days.
Day 5. We checked out and headed to Siena, stopping there for a pizza to go (yuck) and then sat to have a coffee beside the Duomo. It was very crowded and Siena is not my favourite. I prefer the smaller towns, but wanted Reese to see it.
We took the scenic route to Florence and passed by some amazing wineries and wonderful scenery. Our GPS took us through a back way to get to the airport in Florence. I remember now. The signage for the car rental drop off in Florence is horrible. We drove around and around, the GPS taking us back to the airport terminal all the time. I knew it was off site, and there were tiny signs but they just kept disappearing. Reese was getting very frustrated, as he was driving.
Finally we saw a transfer van for the rental companies and we followed it. Yeah. We waited for a bus to take us into Florence and got dropped off near the Duomo.
I had booked a stay in a monastery, the Borgo Pinto which was a couple of blocks from the Duomo and so a short walk everywhere. Our rooms were on the same floor but opposite sides , (boys one side, girls the other) We could have shared a room but it was the same price for our own singles. Doug and I had a double in a monastery in Venice. This is a great way to save a lot of money and stay close to the centre. It is also a really unique experience. The rooms are very basic but just fine for us.
Days 6 and 7 were spent exploring Florence and seeing the Uffuzi museum as well as the inside of the Duomo and museum next door. Some great meals were had, shopping done, and a lot of walking. Florence is a great city
Day 8 we grabbed a cab to the train station for our 930AM train to Venice. We arrived at 11:30 and took the vaperato into the centre getting off at the Rialto bridge. Our hotel is Hotel Ala Fava who sent great instructions how to get there and we arrived without getting lost!!! A major accomplishment .
Our room is small but twin beds and private bath in a great location for 308 Euros for two nights. A great breakfast was included. We wandered about Venice visiting all the major sights but there was around four cruise ships in and it was so crowded. We decided to get off the beaten track and explore outside the main area and come back in the evening when most of the cruisers had left.
One night we went to a concert of Vivaldi by people dressed in period clothes which was fun. Music Veneziani . The weather was very warm and dry and we enjoyed some great meals in Venice.
Day 10, September 18.
Reese flew to Budapest and I flew to Ireland to meet up with Doug.