Lucca

Sunday we moved from Montecarlo just east of Lucca to a lovely former hunting lodge, Abergo Villa Marta, just south of Lucca. They are only fifteen miles apart so we had lots of time to site see. We spent the day exploring Lucca.

My suitcase and I at the gate to Villa Marta
Villa Marta

You may remember I love it when serendipity puts us in a town when a festival is happening. A week or so ago we happened to be in Stroncone for the Chestnut Festival. Well it happened again! We are in Lucca for the annual Lucca Comics and Games Festival. Today is Halloween. There has been no mention of Halloween in Lucca, but there have been lots of great costumes.

Batman

There were a lot of people and many tents and venues where you needed tickets to get in. We enjoyed seeing some of the beautiful buildings and churches.

St Martin Cathedral
Basilica of San Frediano
St Michael’s Church in Lucca

Lucca is the only Italian town with an intact wall surrounding it. You can walk all around the town on the wall. We found a bench and people watched and enjoyed the beautiful fall day.

On top of the Lucca wall
Lucca Wall
Duke and I are on the Lucca Wall

For dinner we ate at a Michelin listed restaurant less than a mile from Villa Marta, LaCecca. We had a great dinner with a very entertaining and friendly waiter.

Comics and Games festival posters in the restaurant
Beef with potatoes and zucchini
Veal scallopini

Montecarlo

Today was very much a rest day. We read, edited videos and relaxed. During the afternoon we went into Montecarlo to explore a bit and have gelato.

Madonna del Soccorso
Montecarlo
Gelato in Montecarlo

I saw this doll in a shop window. I’m going to have to find a pattern. I think she would be fun to make.

We are dinner at Fattoria La Torre where we are staying.

Gorgonzola with celery and pears
Lamb
Meringue with cream and berries

Just North of Sienna to Montecarlo

When we left our hotel Friday morning we stopped at the post office in the village so I could mail a card. There were three people ahead of me, all waiting outside for their turn to enter the post office. About 30 minutes later when I got to the front of the line the woman behind me, who was accompanied by her young daughter, about seven years old, started talking to me in rapid Italian. Although I didn’t understand a word it was clear she really wanted to go next. I said OK explained I don’t speak Italian and asked the seven year old if she speaks English. She shyly said no. I let the lady go ahead of me. There seemed to be a lot of drama relating to her transaction. Meanwhile the seven year old was pointing to random things and saying “red, orange white, blue.” A bit later she started “Monday, Tuesday Wednesday…. “ She wouldn’t make eye contact with me, but pretty soon she started showing off her ability to count in English and say “Hello, Good bye” it was pretty cute. Her mother finally finished her business twenty minutes later. And I was able to buy my stamp. The clerk was very apologetic. My transaction took two minutes. And we were on the road fifty minutes after we arrived at the post office.

As we drove north through Tuscany we continued to see beautiful fall colors.

Tuscan countryside

We visited the Florence American Cemetery. It has the graves of over 4,000 Americans who died in WWII.

Florence American Cemetery
Florence American Cemetery
Florence American Cemetery

Our dinner can be added to the best of the trip list. Casta D’Uva had wonderful ambiance, great music, great service, and excellent food. I loved that the owner seemed to know a lot of the customers. At least three times he came in and sat down to chat with the people at a table.

Casta D’Uva
The flavor combinations were sublime.. especially the tomato.
Shrimp risotto
Pork, potatoes, and fruit preserves
Fruit soup

We are staying at Borgo la Torre in the little town of Montecarlo about half way between Florence and the Italian west coast. It’s a beautiful and comfortable place. We will be here two nights. That’s nice because by the end of a two month trip I srart to get tired of packing up and moving every day. Our plan is to continue moving north and eventually fly home out of Milan in just over a week.

Borgo la Torre in Montecarlo

Orcia Valley to just north of Sienna

After another great breakfast at Villa la Palazzetta we headed north again. Not far down the road we stopped at the Castiglione d’Orcia olive press. They have a tasting room. Their olive oil was really good but the bottles were all too big to carry in my suitcase so we just bought a small jar of local honey.

The Source of the Oil
Tasting olive oil

I’ve been wanting to see someone harvesting olives. We finally saw a guy today. To harvest he spread out a net under the trees then used a kind of motorized branch shaker. You can just see him in the picture below.

Harvesting olives

We stopped in Sienna and explored a bit. We parked the car just outside the Porta Tufi. We had coffee on Il Campo, the main square where they have their Palio horse race twice each summer.

Sienna City Hall

Next we visited the Duomo, Sienna’s Cathedral. The people lifter working on the front of the building seemed to be removing vegetation.

The Duomo
Cleaning the facade

We are staying just a few miles north of Sienna. We have what I think must be called the tower room it has a 360 degree view. The toilet is down a couple of flights of stairs and the windows are a bit dirty but it is an amazing place to spend the night.

Our top floor room.
Our room is at the top.

Exploring the Orcia Valley in Tuscany

The place we are staying, Villa la Palazzetta, is in the Orcia Valley area of Tuscany. It is a wonderful place to stay. It’s way out in the country, beautiful and very peaceful. We had a great breakfast there this morning. All the baked goods were home made and delicious.

Breakfast at Villa la Palazzetta

After breakfast we went for a drive to see some of the Nearby Tuscan towns and countryside. First we stopped at Castiglione d’Orcia where we had eaten dinner Tuesday night

Castiglione d’Orcia

They are currently harvesting olives. The press in Castiglione d’Orcia looked very busy.

Olives
A box of freshly harvested olives.

Next we went to Pienza.

Pienza
Pienza

And finally Montepulciano.

Montepulciano

It was so nice to have a crisp sunny Fall day. We decided to go back to Villa la Palazzetta where we are staying and spent the rest of the afternoon reading in the sun.

Relaxing and reading
Our view