We left Venice by water taxi to get to the train station. Take our advice. Spend the money and enjoy your arrival and departure to this incredible city in a water taxi.
We travel by high-speed train from Venezia to Firenze. The tracks have high speed, not somewhat slower trains (200 km/hour) make the trip.
In Florence we stayed at Hotel Albergotto which is a new Great Place to Stay. The hotel has a great location, a short walk to the Ponte Vecchio or the Piazza della Signoria. Better yet, a six minute walk to the Visconti Showroom on via della Vigna Nuova. The Albergotto is a 22 room hotel situated in a historic building on the fashionable Via Tornabuoni.
We Florence and head in to the Chianti area of Tuscany, staying at the stunning Borgo di Pietrafitta. We stayed here last year and have designated Borgo di Pietrafitta as one of our Great Places to Stay.
One of our first stops in Firenze is the Visconti Showroom to say hello to our friend Silvano Qercia. This year we had the pleasure of meeting his wife, Adriana.
Silvano Qercia and Glenn Marcus at the Visconti Showroom in Firenze.
The Baptism of Christ above the Gates of Paradise on the Baptistery in Firenze.
The detailed work on the exterior of the Duomo in Firenze.
Firenze is a city of art, it stands out everywhere, as with the massive statue of Neptune outside the Palazzo Vecchio.
The river Arno runs through Firenze and the bridges crossing the river create everlasting images. Here the Ponte all Carria, a five-arched bridge gracefully crosses the river. The original bridge was destroyed during World War II.
The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Firenze and the oldest wholly-stone closed arch bridge in Europe. The bridge today was rebuilt in 1345 as floods had taken their toll on previous bridges. Luckily this bridge was not destroyed during World War II. To make it unusable, the Germans piled rubble at each end, but left the bridge intact.
The Marble Horses of the Neptune Fountain in the Piazza Della Signoria in Firenze.
From Florence we travelled to the Chianti region of Tuscany where we stayed at the Borgo di Pietrafitta just outside of Castellina in Chianti. This shot is of the villa apartment Pera Case 2, our friends the Grants had a separate villa apartment across the yard.
Our living room was very comfortable.
We had a wonderful dining room, but a rather dark kitchen. Luckily, the villa apartment that Chris and Carmen Grand had a great kitchen so much of the cooking was in the Grant Kitchen and the dinners in our dinning room.
Chris and Carmen Grant looking out of their villa apartment, Granario 2.
On the grounds is a large infinity-style pool where you lay in the the water and look out over the Tuscan valley.
We stopped and purchased some great Chianti wines. This bottle of Castello di Fonterutoli was about 35 Euro and each night we drank a bottle we concluded it was one of the best wines we have had, yes that's right, each night! More on this area in our Travel Journal - Chianti Region
Our meals were great. Chris Grant cooked up a great stuffed red pepper with sausage, cheese and a range of goodies. This and the wine, we were in heaven - Chianti Heaven.
I decided to cook the Chianti Sunday Dinner of pork roast stuffed with fresh rosemary, along with roast potatoes, saute zucchini and cherry tomatoes. More wine please!
When we were not cooking, it seems we were going out for lunch. Karen and I returned to the very scenic Al Ristorante Podere le Vigne in Radda in Chianti. Just pick one of the outside tables and you are literally seated in the vineyard. As with previous years. The meal was excellent.
Great meals with this pasta dish from the Osteria Fonteroli. See Fonterutoli in the Travel Journal.
Jamie Oliver noted the Antico Macelleria Cecchini in one of his cook books that Chris Grant read while in Amalfi. Dario Cecchini's butcher shop is located in the town of Panzano in Chianti, just about 20 minutes from where we were staying. So Sunday morning we headed off the visit the shop and if we were lucky, to hear Dario sing. Well he did not sing, but he offered free food on a table with Chianti wine. We bough pork roasts and his famous beef as the foundation for the next two meals. See Panzano in the Travel Journal.
A day trip to Siena and a climb to the Panorama.
The Duomo is Siena is stunning, one of the most impressive in all of Italy.
The floor of the Duomo in Siena is inlaid marble. They are works of art and covered much of the year, but open for viewing in September.
Scenes in Chianti.
Our villa apartment was just a few kilometers from the town of Castellina in Chianti, a pleasant town, that has not been overrun with tourist. Real people live in the town!
Chianti is a great wine region. More on Chianti in the Travel Journal
We also visited Vertine, considered to be the best preserved medieval town in Tuscany.
Old stone buildings of Vertine.
Next, on to Rome.