Saturday, May 14, 2011

Friday the 13th - Hill towns and Ferraris

We drove towards San Gimignano and enjoyed the beautiful scenery that is Tuscany. The town was busier than we remembered, wall to wall tourists. Had fun getting the car into the Fiat 500 sized spot in the lot. We walked around the town and took pictures of the remaining towers. Bought some things to bring home and a couple of donuts to eat. We bought some salami made from wild boar to have with our snack lunch.

We left town with the idea of driving aways and then taking pictures of the town from a distance. Once we were at the bottom of the hill, we could no longer see the town. We took a gravel road that headed up the hill to see if we could see the town from the top of the hill. We found a working farm that has olive groves and vineyards. We talked to a young blonde who came out of, what we later learned, was the building the farm used to sell their wines. She confirmed that this was a winery and olive oil business.

We drove down the hill and used the farm's summer sales area as a picnic area. Halfway through our lunch, a couple of red Ferraris, a 358 and a 430, headed up the road. They stopped near us and one driver asked us if the winery was open. We said yes, but we were surprised they were going to drive those cars up that dusty and very bumpy road. Before the driver left, he said this farm's wines were "benissimo". We finished our lunch and decided to go back up the hill to see if they made it up the hill and to taste the wines.

The cars were parked near the wine sales building. We parked and went to see the wines. The couples asked us if we wanted to join them. Both couples were from Germany. One driver was born in Italy but now has a paving base preparation business near Heidelberg. The other driver has an electrical contracting business near Dusseldorf. The blond girl, who we learned is from British Columbia, came out with six glasses and two bottles of wine, a red and a white. We sat and enjoyed the wines and talked. One of the women had very good English, the others understood most of the English, except for the driver who went to school in Italy before moving to Germany at age 17. They told us they were going to Monteriggioni where they were staying that night in the castle hotel. They asked if we could come there at 5:30 or so and ask at the desk if the people with the Ferraris had arrived. They said we could then have a drink together.

We had had Monteriggioni in our GPS before we took the gravel road, but decided to go see another town they recommended, Greve in Chianti. We took a tour of the wine making buildings and bought a couple of bottles of their wine. We drove through the beautiful Tuscany countryside to Greve in Chianti. Finally found a parking spot and set off to town when we saw a parade of tractors going into the center of town. Our new friends with the Ferraris came around the corner and told us there was a protest against some garbage facility. We toured the town and watched some entertainment for the kids. We left for Monteriggioni.

We only had coins for parking for an hour and said that would be enough. We went into the beautiful walled city. Very small and could not walk the ramparts since we were so late. We decided to stop at the hotel and say good bye to the Ferrarri folks, just to thank them for being so friendly and hospitable. They were in the lobby and we talked about where each of us were going to watch the Mille Miglia on Saturday. They were going to Siena, while we planned to go to Maranello. Another German couple had joined them after flying down from Frankfurt. He is a well know scientist in fluidized bed engineering, who had recently presented papers in San Diego and Seattle. We turned down their invitation to join them for dinner since we had a 2 hour drive home, and also so they did not have to speak English. We had a good long Minnesota goodbye, exchanging email addresses and set off for the drive home.

We arrived home safe and sound - a Friday the 13th driving in Italy without incident. We should have bought a lottery ticket.

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