While I've been squandering my precious time creating the Siena Super Posts in a fit of photographic self-indulgence, we haven't just been sitting around in monastic deprivation. No! Epic travel continues apace. Let me catch everyone up.
Last Saturday, we picked up a rental car in Siena. This involved dealing with the rental agency representative going over all the horrible things we needed to be sure not to do until we finally could get the car itself. Then we drove off out of Tuscany and into the neighboring region of Umbria. We went to the small town of Citta di Castello where at a Conad Super Store (an Italian Walmart), who should we run into but Daughter #3 and her entire family! Who would believe. Well, as long as we were all together in Italy, we decided that we might as well find some expansive country house that required a crazy as drive to get to and spend the week together.
Grandchild 3.1 was feeling ill so on Sunday we all relaxed. Monday, she was still a little under the weather, so we just went into Citta di Castello which didn't have too much to offer but did get us acclimated to the inaccuracies of GPS navigation and the craziness of driving in old European towns and cities. As it was Monday, almost all the restaurants were closed but we did find one open. We were the only people there. It was a family run place and we had a lovely meal.
Tuesday and all were back to full strength so it was off in two cars to go to the Umbria capital of Perugia. The old town is located on the crest of a hill. There was crazy driving to get to it. Problems getting into the parking garage. Crazy backing into incredibly tiny spot to park. All the normal things we love about driving in Europe. You might recognize the name because it is the brand name of a famous Italian chocolate company. In fact Perugia is the chocolate capital of Italy. A major international chocolate festival took place ending the weekend we arrived. We had talked about going on Sunday but given how hard it was for us to get into the city on a Tuesday made us glad that we had not. Unfortunately the beautiful central boulevard which offers a great sweeping view of the old town area was still filled from end to end with the pavilions from the festival spoiling the view. We had another wonderful meal (another foodie post in is the works). The staff were so sweet to the two girls (who I must say really behave very well in restaurant situations for being as young as they are) which makes it so much nicer. Getting back out of Perugia was even more fun with both our TomTom GPS and #3 and 3A's Google Maps GPS sending us down narrow roads far off the route we should have taken to a dead end neighborhood.
3A had limited vacation time so had to leave on Wednesday night. Wife and I let #3 and he go off by their own to Firenze while we took care of the grandkids. We went into Citta di Castello. Wanted to go to a bakery and get a sweet but it was packed and couldn't find a place to park. Wanted to go to a park to let them play but the park on Google Maps didn't exist. BUT, going to the grocery store we found a cafe/bakery and got our treats. AND there was a playground in front of the inside of the grocery store and a pretty cool one at that, so the girls were in heaven. We did a bunch of stuff with them back at the rental house and had a lovely day.
Today, we went to Assisi of St. Francis fame. The Basilica devoted to him with his tomb lived up to expectations. Sadly, they do not allow any photographs inside. It was of the same caliber as Parma and Siena. In France, Belgium, England, and Germany the typical Gothic cathedral is very similar in style, color and decoration. But I am finding the cathedrals of Italy dating to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance are quite different from one another in the style of decoration especially the massive quantity of paintings/frescoes that cover them. The education, I got from the Uffizi tour has been paying real dividends in terms of my appreciation of this art.
We have a couple more days with the remainder of the #3 clan. It has been a real joy. Then we will be heading south the Puglia region which promises to offer a a quite different look and feel. In the meantime the pyroclastic flow of pictures is schedule to resume irrupting momentarily.