Another Trip to Bella Italia – Part 1

Agriturismo Cassinazza
Courtyard of Agriturismo Cassinazza

Last year we went to the US and I didn’t write a nice travelogue about it. So this year I’ll try to do a little better for our trip to beautiful Italy. I had always wanted to go back to Tuscany after spending a week there at a conference while I was at university. So we packed our car and took off. Not quite as carefree as it sounds: we did book rooms before leaving home this time. Since Tuscany is about 900km from Karlsruhe we decided to take our time driving and stopped at a very nice agriturismo along the way.

We had a great and plentiful dinner with local products: cured meats, pasta, risotto, pork roast and a nice local red wine to accompany this feast. To finish us off we got an ice-cold Limoncello and then went to bed.

Il Duomo di Pistoia
The cathedral of Pistoia

The next day we drove down to Pistoia to look at the first of many black-and-white marbled cathedrals and have a break in a tiny cafe sitting next to other Germans who loudly talked German all the time while ignoring us. So we ate our food and drank our coffee and went on our way quickly. We didn’t meet so many other Germans as Tuscany is full of Americans.

From Pistoia to Montegufoni it was only another short drive and we arrived at our accommodation curious if the “Castello” would be as awesome as it looked on the photos. And yes it is:

Living in a castle
Our bedroom
Castle Courtyard
Castle Courtyard
Romantic Terrace
Romantic terrace with a view

We happily moved into our new apartment – too bad it was ours for only 9 nights. On the other hand it was a true castle: it was cold at night, the ceilings were so high it was scary and I always thought that the huge chandelier would crash down on us one night. The window shutters clattered when someone walked about in the room above ours and in the bedroom was a locked door leading to the apartment next door and there was a sign on it: “Please be quiet in this room, your neighbours can hear you!” And we could hear them: at least one night there was a mighty snore to be heard! In the evening we had a rather average dinner at the castello’s restaurant – we didn’t try again to eat there, so it may have been just a bad night.

The next day we explored our immediate surroundings: the castle garden, the closest supermarket – only after shopping for some fresh food for the kitchenette did we find out that the fridge had only one setting “freeze everything!” and the first of the old towns from the middle ages:

Lemon Trees
Lemon trees in the castello’s gardens
Walking
Footpath to Certaldo oldtown

We went to Certaldo and Rolland had a first taste of the beautiful streets of Tuscany: up and down, left turn, right turn, never straight they go. Certaldo’s oldtown is situated on a hill – like all the other towns of the area – overlooking the surroundings and of course you can’t just drive in there with your car. Finding a good parking spot should remain a challenge throughout our vacation. In this case we found one that was ok and walked up quite a steep little path to the old city center. Up there everything appeared to be in shades of red – maybe caused by the beautiful evening light. The city hall was the first of many that looked somewhat like the on in Florence:

City Hall Certaldo
The city hall of Certaldo

After taking the “funiculare” (cable car) back down to the modern part of the city we had our first gelato – well I had one at least – and then it turned out that our “ok parking spot” wasn’t trivial to find after going up one way and coming back down another. After only a couple of wrong turns we came to a bridge we had passed on our way up and found our car not far from there. For just a moment I envisioned having to go back all the way we had come to find the car.

Certaldo Evening
Evening light in Certaldo

So we started on our way back to the castello with great plans for dinner. However it was a Monday and many restaurants were closed. Back at the castello I had been checking tripadvisor for good places to eat. It turns out the tripadvisor app only works when you are online. We still managed to find a cozy little place where we were the only guests, had a beautiful sunset above an olive grove all for ourselves and wonderful food. The olives they served as an appetizer tasted just like the olive oil they make from them and of course we could not resist buying some.

The next day we went to my favorite of Tuscan cities: Siena.