Venice to Barberina val D'elsa
23 Sep 2007
|Sunday 23rd September 2007 Weather:-sunny, 22 degrees
(J) Barberino val D'elsa is where we are tonight. We had an early start out of Venice this morning; we left our little apartment at 8:15 and caught the near empty ferry (Sunday morning, everybody still asleep I guess) to the Roma bus station so that we could catch our bus to the Mondial car park where we left our car. All went well until we saw our bus stop as we were sailing past it, nothing for it but to get off at the next stop, 1 ½ kilometres further on. That was a nice bit of exercise; walking back with our cases, the good part was that I could put mine on my back. Herman decided to drag his but anyway at least we had good weather for it.
When we finally made it to the car park where our car was parked it was as we left it, only a little bit dirtier. The car park is in an industrial area and it is very dusty there. We loaded the car with our suitcases; Herman got his little toy (TT) on the air then pushed the starter of the car---silence---flat battery. As luck would have it the attendant must be used to those situations because he came over with a big battery connected it to ours and we were able to get on our way at 9:45am.
The drive between Venice and Bologna was not very interesting. The country is flat and seems to be mainly farming land with most of the crops harvested and the fields ploughed over ready for winter. Once we skirted Bologna we started to drive through hills again. Hills that got higher and thicker with forests and before we knew it we were driving through mountains (tunnels) and skimming over viaducts again. Again we had a fantastic toll road most of the way. After we skirted around Florence we turned off onto a secondary road and we could start to see the scenery that Tuscany is famous for; gentle hills of olive groves, or grape vines lined by cypress trees with little villages on the tops of the hills and after 3 ½ hours from the Mondial car park, we were at our destination.
Barberino val D'elsa is a sleepy little village with a very ancient centre and it is within easy reach of Florence, Siena, Pisa, San Gimingano, Volterra etc. The idea is to catch the bus into Florence from here and to visit the other little places by car.
After our arrival and unpacking I was able to do a bit of washing then we thought we will go and explore a bit. Just getting to the old town (approx. 600 meters away) had us puffing again (up a steep hill). By this time it was 2:30pm and we were getting hungry. The streets were quiet but there were things happening in the houses as we could hear lots of voices. We came past a cosy restaurant that was full of people, it was too late for lunch but we found out that they would re-open at 7 pm for dinner so of to the local bar we went for a drink and a sandwich. Sitting out front, nearly on the main street, was very entertaining. We guessed that this must be the only place open that sells cigarettes on Sunday as the constant arrival and departure of vehicles was hilarious; stop anywhere, park anywhere, leave the motor running while you run in and out of the bar, everyone seems to know everyone and has funny greetings for each other. It must have been the men's time away from the wives but I expect that the wives were at home having a bit of peace and quiet as well.
We went back to the restaurant for dinner tonight as we do not have any groceries and we were too lazy to drive to the next town where the supermarket is open on Sundays (only 8 kilometres). It was lucky that we turned up at 7pm as they only had 2x2 tables available as the rest of the place was booked out. The whole time that we were there people were being turned away. We enjoyed one of the best meals that we have had since being in Italy, the only other place where we enjoyed our meals as much was Giulios' cooking at Villa Tre's Jolie at Trezzone. Both kitchens turning out real Italian home cooking. Giulio at Tre's Jolie, introduced us to the best porcini mushroom risotto (a recipe that Dani has passed on to me) and Herman fell in love with Giulios' asparagus lasagne (it must have been good for Herman is the person that tries to keep away from anything that is of a vegetable nature or any pasta unless it is spaghetti).
The old part of Barberino was originally a castle and then developed as a village. The first mention that can be traced back in documents is in AD 1054 but it did not develop as a borough until after 1202. It is beautiful to see the ancient brickwork while knowing that some of it is over 800 years old. When walking along the perimeter there certainly are some nice 'typical Tuscan' views to be had. This part of our holiday will again afford us another view of Italy as it will be completely different from all our other stops.
P.S. Pauline bought up the fact that she does not see all the graffiti on the photos. That is because Herman purposely does not want to photograph it. The graffiti on the Rialto is all over the green doors; thank goodness not on the concrete itself, he says that he is not interested to see it on our photos.