Italy for the Ordinary | Tuscany Part 1
We arrived in beautiful Tuscany just in time to participate in one of our most favorite meals. I’ll tell you all about it but first I need to update you on the happenings between Milan and Cortona. Let me explain.
As you may recall, we separated from our daughter at Milan Central Train Station. From there we got back on the express train to the airport, reverse route from a few days prior. Once at the airport we found our way to the Hertz car rental. There was a sign for Hertz Gold members to go directly to another location. We thought ‘home-run’ and we’re able to bypass a long line of people. My husband arranged for the rental car online weeks prior to our departure. We knew we were late to pick up our car but we didn’t think it would matter. We proceeded as if everything was just fine. When we arrived at the Hertz desk there was an argument with a foreigner, such as us, and the Hertz representative. We gleaned from the debate that this person did not obtain the proper license to drive in Italy. Oh shoot, nor did we. We played it cool and avoided eye contact and conversations until it was our turn. When called, my husband stepped up to the counter gave our name and information and was told that our car was released since they assumed we were a no-show. Apparently if you’re more than 3 hours past your due-time they can release your car. Who knew, certainly not us. By this time it was close to 1:00 pm and they said they held our car up until 12. They were very nice and started looking for another car with a built in GPS, which we already paid for. We didn’t want to make any “waves” because we knew we might be in a further jam since we did not obtain the proper permission to drive in Italy, based on the conversation that occurred while we waited. Finally, after waiting for more than 1 hour it all worked out. Since my husband was a Gold Hertz member and made all the arrangements on-line they did not ask about a license, thank goodness! We were very close to having a disastrous outcome. If we were unable to rent a car the rest of our trip would be in jeopardy. All our plans hinged on having a car.
We quickly got in our car before they realized something afoul, entered our address into the GPS and off we went. We made a few wrong turns but finally we were on the highway and in route to our second destination- Tuscany. Not long into our drive we came to a toll booth. We were uncertain what to expect but we made it through be using our credit card. By the time we arrived in Tuscany we were ready for a nice meal and some Italian wine. A few things I should say about driving in Italy. Most of the cars are manual and the roads, especially when you go off the main road, can be narrow and windy. If you’re not a confident driver you may not want to drive in Italy or at least choose places that are not off the beaten path, as we did.
We arrived at Borgo di Vagli just in time for supper. Fortunately we made a reservation. We were in for a treat. I’d like to give you a little background on this establishment. This is a very unique property that we were fortunate enough to experience. Our friends told us about it since they were there a few years back. The hamlet dates back to the 14th century. It was established to protect the 10th century Pierle Castle. Over the next 300-400 years, it was occupied by farmers and local peasants. After World War II when Italy began to recover from Fascism and the war, the land took on a various forms of ownership. It fell to neglect until an architect had a vision to transform this medieval hamlet into a modern Tuscan way of life while keeping the integrity of the original buildings. It truly is an amazing transformation; taking something ancient and in disrepair and transforming it into a tasteful and extremely well appointed property. There’s much more to this story which you can read on the BDV website linked above. I hope I got it correct.
Back to dinner. We arrived just in time for a banquet of a meal prepared by a women who has lived her whole life in this hamlet and was part of the vision to restore it. She is a master chief and prepared for us a mouth-watering meal. In one of my previous blogs, The “Art” of Cooking, I wrote about the phrase: i ‘cche c’e’ c’e’ which translates something like, what I have in my kitchen I’ll make, or it is what it is. Basically, you create a meal with the items you have in your kitchen, and man can she create a meal. I’ll leave some pictures for you to view. We had 3 nights here which clearly was not enough time but I hope to one day return. It’s a fabulous place for couples, families or even reunions. It can be a launching site, although a bit off the beaten path, to other places in Tuscany. The closest city is Cortona which we visited and enjoyed very much. I would love to return one day and relax, explore and learn more about the history of this Tuscan village. Once you know the history it helps you appreciate the transformation process. It really can’t be beat.
Just a little sampling of the local food prepared for our enjoyment!!
If we had the luxury of endless time, we would have lingered in the local atmosphere of Borgo di Vagli but we had other sights to see. We spent one day in Cortona and another day we went to Florence. Cortona is a twenty minute drive through the beautiful countryside and we traveled by train to Florence. I’ll continue our Tuscany story in Part 2. But for now, I’ll leave you with more pictures of idilic Borgo di Vagli. Walk along the stone steps and gaze into the landscape of Tuscany.