Posted by: Kristie | October 22, 2009

Rainy Day in Tuscany

Today the rain is coming down here at our little two-week home in Tuscany. Although its thwarted our market-attending plans, we can’t really complain because we have had amazing weather so far on this entire trip. I thought I’d take this opportunity to update you on what we’ve been doing the past couple of days. I know I still owe you posts on Cinque Terre and Lake Como. They’re coming!

We arrived in Tuscany on Saturday and our little villa is sandwiched between Poggibonsi and San Gimignano. I just learned that Poggibonsi is basically the armpit of Tuscany, but whatever, it has a good grocery store and a train station and so far seems to be a good base for the region. We have taken day trips to Siena, Florence and The Mall, a shi-shi outlet for designers like Gucci, Fendi and Valentino. 

Siena was nice, but we spent almost half the time attempting to find a parking lot because we didn’t have a map or a guidebook for the town. It was also a pretty cold day and with the tall buildings, there was very little sunshine. But the Siena’s Duomo was beautiful and its incredible floors, which supposedly are covered most of the time, were revealed in all its etched marble glory.

The facade of the Siena Duomo

The facade of the Siena Duomo

Now that's a floor

Now that's a floor

We headed to Florence on Monday with Shannon and we had a mission. To eat good Naples-style pizza and shop. Check and check. We headed to Il Pizzaiuolo, which was recommended on Chowhound and a couple of other places. The pizza was incredible, and I learned that I like anchovies on my pizza, at least in Italy. Who knew? We each got our own and all three were delicious. Unfortunately we didn’t take any pics because we were too busy stuffing ourselves.

We worked off the pizza by climbing to the top of Florence’s duomo, all 463 steps. It was a really cool climb and a beautiful view, but there’s this section where you walk around the dome inside the church. The walk provides you with a great look at the fresco inside the dome, but it’s this tiny space and hot and everyone is stopping taking photos and you can’t go back and you can’t move forward. For someone who is claustrophobic, especially when I can’t see a way out, it was awful. The way down was worse and I ended up pushing past a German couple who were moving painstakingly show. They made a noise when I squeezed past them, but maybe they should’ve thought of that when they ignored the signs that said PLEASE KEEP MOVING! My chest tightens up just thinking about it. But I eased my troubles with some amazing gelato from Grom located just around the corner from the Duomo. It was incredible. Florence is supposed to have the best gelato and this place definitely lived up to that promise.

Shannon at the top of Florence's Duomo

Shannon at the top of Florence's Duomo

And then we hit the shops. We stopped at a great English bookstore called Paperback Exchange. They had a wide selection of new and used books all in English, which I must admit was very refreshing. We headed to the San Lorenzo market, which is full of stall after stall of leather items. It was a little overwhelming and we felt the need to clutch our purses to ourselves the entire time, so we didn’t stay long there. We walked down to the area called Oltrarno, located south of the river, and Shannon hit up some jewelry shops and I took a look at some other leather stores. No purchases for me, but Shannon swept up some good-looking jewelry. We ended the day at a delicious restaurant with a horrible name, Golden View Open Bar. All in all, it was a good day in Florence. We did drive there and didn’t have too much trouble finding a good parking lot. We plan to go back to see the David, try more gelato and do a little more shopping. Although between the cost of parking and the cabs to and fro, we might just take the train.

Florence at dusk

Florence at dusk

Tuesday we took Shannon to the airport and then laid low at the villa and did some laundry. Wednesday it was rainy so we headed to The Mall. I’m not really sure what I was thinking since I’m not exactly one to don designer duds, but I thought I would check it out anyway. I read the outlets here are true outlets, as opposed to in the U.S. where they consist of separate clothing lines. I’m glad I went because it was an interesting scene, with equally interesting people and goods. But, alas, I walked away with nothing. On the way there, we stopped at Osteria alla Piazza for lunch basically because it was open and we were hungry. We ended up having the best zuppa di farro e fagioli, basically a bean and barley soup. It was incredible (Mom you would’ve loved it!).

Plans for the upcoming 10 days: Chianti road with a visit to Dario the butcher, white truffle festival in Acqualagna, Montalcino for some Brunello wines, visits to Lucca and Volterra, another day in Florence to see the David, Uffizi Gallery and hopefully take a cooking class. Lots of things to do, not a whole lot of time. Any recommendations for the list or what we should add to the list?



  1. I’m so glad you had the time with Shannon. What an incredible adventure of a lifetime.

    I think it’s your job to learn to make zuppa di farro e fagioli LOL

    Love Mom

  2. […] mentioned in a previous post, this pizza was divine and became the driving force behind our quest. We couldn’t believe we had […]

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