Monday, June 30, 2014

April 12, 2014– Tuscany to Assisi to Rome!

Today’s Travelpod was written by Lizzie and Doug. The words from the Travelpod are in italics. Any new comments are in regular text.

Hi all. Lizzie here. ( this part written on April 12)

Oh today. I woke up feeling decent which was exciting. We got up and ate our last feast at our little paradise. We packed up our stuff and loaded up the car. We said goodbye to Manuela and Andrea and set out for Assisi. It took us about 1.5 hours to get there.

We had a few issues getting there and I must admit this is our worst day for driving. We made the most mistakes/wrong turns and then there is the Rome fiasco that I will explain later.

We finally got to Assisi and found the recommended underground parking without too much of an issue. 2014-04-12-04-48-07_IMG_1653

We parked and got to see most of the major sights of Assisi (San Rufini,2014-04-12-04-51-02_IMG_1656
the Temple of Minerva, 2014-04-12-04-57-18_IMG_1662

San Chiara)
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We had a delicious lunch and saw the sights. Gelato included!2014-04-12-06-29-57_IMG_1669

Umbria behind me. It looks very different from Tuscany. 2014-04-12-06-36-57_IMG_1671

Sadly, I started feeling bad so we headed back to the car and did not go see THE major Assisi sight – The Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. We did drive past it while we drove down the road. We contemplated stopping anyway, but we both preferred having Lizzie 100% for the rest of our days in Italy than hiking up the hill from the parking lot to see St. Francis's Basilica. Sorry, St. Francis. We have already started the list of reasons why we need to come back.

We started the last road journey of our Italian trip and it started off ok. We made it to Rome in about 2 hours and used my phone to find the hotel. I was still feeling bad so Doug and I decided to drop me off at the hotel with the luggage so I could rest up for our last few days in Rome. We unloaded the car and Doug drove off with his phone and his wallet. That is all we thought he would need for the trek.

I emailed him the details of where our Metro stop was and on what line. I also gave him other random helpful details and he drove off around 6:45 pm. He was going to drop off the rental car at the train terminal and come back via the Metro. At 7:15 pm, Doug emailed me saying, "The whole city is shut down for some reason. I can’t go anywhere and my phone is dying. I will get there, but I will be a while." Oh no.

An hour later and no Doug, I watch a movie. Another hour later and no Doug and I decided to call the Hertz office at the Terminal to find out if he made it there yet. I found the website and found out they close on Saturdays at 6:00 pm. OH NO.

…(doug takes over) Written on April 13 (a day later)
My apologies, devout blog readers for the failure of an update yesterday. I got back to our hotel at about 11:30. With the car. If Florence was a study in why not to bring a car into major cities in Italy, Rome was the final exam.

Lizzie summed up what happened pretty well. She wasn’t feeling well, so we checked into the hotel and I let her go upstairs, take a bath, and go to bed. I put the map on my phone and started driving away. I did a quick check – the directions said it would take about 13 minutes to get to Termini, my phone battery looked like enough for trip there as well as some extra juice to figure out how to get back to our hotel. “No problem, I’ll travel light, I won’t bring anything else with me,” I thought. Terrible idea.

Driving away from the Vatican and into Rome’s city center wasn’t too bad. Until I hit this patch of traffic that was going under a few overpasses. Dead. Stop. Little mopeds were winding their way through the traffic like little gnats or mosquitoes buzzing around your face. They really don’t care about traffic laws at all, they just zip through wherever there is enough room. People in Smart Cars, I found, seem to have the same mentality. But they’re much more annoying because they actually block up the roads. I noticed this on our way into the hotel – it seems like the paint on the road is merely a suggestion. And in fact, some of the roads that have been paved over recently, they didn’t bother to paint lines. Likely because they realized no one followed them anyway. When in Rome, as they say – I certainly have some of my own asinine driving qualities I can bring to the table.

But I digress. Back to finding Termini.
5 minutes from St. Peter’s, I hit this traffic. I turn my phone navigation off to save what battery I have. I finally make it through the traffic to find why it’s backed up so much. The police have shut down a major road that goes into the center. Why would they do that? I have no idea. It must be a Saturday evening thing. So I take the route in the right direction. Only to find another road closure. Reroute again. Closed again. WTF is going on? All the rerouting and the extra traffic is eating away at my battery. So I fire off a message to Lizzie to tell her the roads are all closed, that I’m ok, and that my phone is dying. Don’t worry about me, I’ll find a way. I’m not sure if it was the 10th or the 11th reroute that I lost battery, but there I was: foreign country, no map, basic idea of which direction I needed to go, but no roads that actually led there (all roads lead to Rome, but once there, good luck getting around.. the roads are closed), and I needed to go to the bathroom.

In Rome, they have several streets that have bus and tram only lanes – the cars drive on the outside and the buses and trams pick up people on the inside platforms. In the mostly stopped traffic, I pulled up to a few of these areas, rolled down the window and asked dov’e termini (where is termini)? Not really sure what I was hoping for.. chances are I would get one of the following: a long list of instructions I would only partially understand and have to ask for clarification, a unknowing shoulder shrug, or an energetic point vaguely in the direction I was trying to go that would likely get me to another closed street. But I tried anyway. Various stops got me exactly what I had expected. I followed the more complicated directions, and wound up on a long bridge out of Rome with nowhere to turn around. And once I did make it to the other side, I took a quick turn to flip a bitch, but wound up down a street with a line that was a mile long with cars waiting at that light to get on the bridge I was trying to get on.

I improvised, tried to cut around the long line of cars. Bad idea. I wound up in a valet parking area. Parking areas in Rome are a sight to behold. Double parked here, triple parked there.. sometimes I’m not even sure how a car wound up in the position it was in. It’s a little like finding a car up in a tree. The guys parking these cars are very creative. I found myself at the end of a long, single lane filled with cars – no way to go left, no way to go right, a car behind me, and a form of roundabout that looked to be just barely wide enough for a smart car. I started to think about reversing out of there. But instead, threw caution to the wind and tried for the u-turn. Thinking to myself the whole time “just don’t scratch the car.” I managed to squeeze it through, only to have to wait in the long line of traffic to get on the bridge.

At this point, I had taken so many twists and turns, I wasn’t entirely sure where I needed to go. I had a concept in my brain of where the river bends were and where the city center was, so my plan was to go that way and see what happened next. But first – a stop at a McDonald’s for a bathroom break. It was the busiest (and strangest) McDonald’s I had ever seen. More creative parking in their lot – they actually had a guy in the parking lot helping people to find spots. He pointed one out to me that would have inconvenienced about 4 other people if I didn’t come out in time, but fortunately, someone was pulling out at the same time I pulled in, and I quickly snagged that place. Inside, it looked like a cross between all the wine bars and caf├ęs we had been seeing all over Italy (with fresh pastries and pastas in windowed cases) and a standard McDonald’s with the fanciest patio seating you have ever seen.  Star World indeed.
I tried to ask a few people for directions, but I was so far out of the city, even the broken English directions were only vaguely helpful. I got back on the road with my bladder empty as well as my plan for getting to Termini.

I made it back across the bridge, got stuck in tons more traffic.. and it was getting to be close to 8:30. I decided to try some of those closed roads again, once I managed to find my way back to them and fight through the traffic. Lo and behold, they were open! But I still had no map to actually tell the proper direction to Termini. As soon as I hit a tram track in the road, I decided to pick a direction and try that – those are bound to go back to Termini at some point. I followed one back out of the city, and then back into the city, but it turned off the road I was on and I could no longer follow it. I was out of ideas.

As it got later and later, I stopped caring about returning the car that evening and started wondering if I could even find the hotel again. On the plus side, the traffic was thinning out a bit. So I didn’t have to fight off minis and smart cars for a place in the long line of cars waiting to move down a particular street. On the minus side, I had only my sense of direction to rely on.

Eventually, I found my way to St. Peter’s – driving by nearly all the main sites in Rome on the way. Coincidentally, I think the only attraction I didn’t get to see was the Colosseum on my side trip. I saw a bunch of stuff that I’m still looking up and trying to trace my path of exactly where I went around Rome. That would make for an interesting zigzag pattern.
Once at San Pietro, I found my way back to our hotel, and circled the block trying to find parking. There wasn’t any, but the second time around the block, I found Lizzie running at me in the street. Evidently, she had made friends with the guy at the reception desk and was worried sick about me. He saw me driving the car around and she went out to find me. He helped us find a parking garage down the street to put the car for the night and I finally got out of the driver’s seat after some of the worst traffic I have ever been in. Antonio, the reception guy, quickly became my friend as he had evidently told my wife that she wasn’t allowed to get mad at me. Traffic in Rome is terrible, especially on a Saturday night – he said it wasn’t my fault, and she couldn’t get mad. I don’t think she was too mad anyway, just happy I made it back in one piece. And likely happy I wasn’t too aggravated from driving around crazy Rome.

Ok. Lizzie again.
So after 3 hours I got out of my PJ’s and  headed downstairs. I was not exactly sure what I was going to do, but I felt like I should do SOMETHING. So I chatted with Antonio for about 30 minutes. We started talking in the hotel “lobby” (really just a room not attached to our apartment). Then we ended up outside. I found out he was born in Chile, but moved to Italy when he was two. He and his parents has been here ever since, he studied in Spain for school and came back here. You get the gest. We were out there for a while.

Antonio reassured me a few times that Doug was fine and that Roma traffic on a Saturday night was terrible.

As we were standing outside, I was watching for Doug to walk up so I was keeping my eyes peeled for his bright yellow jacket. I was not even looking at cars. All of a sudden Antonio said, “Look! There he is! See…I told you nothing to worry about.” Relived does not summarize the feeling I felt. I was so glad he was ok. Then he said I could not be mad at Doug and I could not start a fight. I assured him I was not mad at him. I was just happy to see him. As Doug rounded the block again, I ran up to the car help him find the parking garage. Once the car was parked we headed into the hotel.

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Poor Doug was SPENT. He sat down for a bit and I let him relax. I can only imagine the stress he felt. I would have been a mess. After a while we headed out to grab dinner (even though it was 11 pm). We ate pasta at this little place on a plaza next to our hotel. Then, of course, Doug had gelato and it was really, really good.

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We walked back to the hotel and discussed getting the car and bringing it to the terminal since there was no traffic that late. We ended up vetoing the idea even though we both wanted it done. We were so exhausted.  We got in the room and passed out. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why there was no blog yesterday and we are behind.

We will catch up….at some point.
Love and Hugs, Lizzie

Lizzie Fitbit: 11,576
Doug Fitbit: unknown (this story will be told in tomorrows blog)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

April 11, 2014– Montepulciano!

The Travelpod from today was written by Doug. Any new comments are in regular text while his original blog is in italics. Enjoy!

We figured it was only a matter of time, but both of us were ignoring the inevitable. My wife, she got sick :(  I woke up this morning feeling at nearly 90%, but Lizzie was no longer at 100%. We share everything, evidently.

On today's agenda, we were supposed to drive down to Assisi to see the birthplace of St. Francis. But the drive is about an hour and a half, so we didn't want to chance Lizzie feeling worse in the middle of the drive or as soon as we got there, so we laid low in paradise for another day. We feasted like royalty at breakfast once again, then came back to the apartment to relax a little more. I brought Lizzie some more green tea and hot water with honey melted in it (her request), and she got some more rest.

By noon, we were both discussing our strategy for the day, and we decided on somewhere within a 20-30 minute striking distance. After reading about several towns, I decided on Montepulciano. It met our requirements, and the birthplace of Nobile wine offers free wine tastings. Sounded like a winner, so we drove off to see the city.

The road to Montepulciano was full of ups and downs and twists and turns and when we hit a few switchbacks on the side of the hill it was on, I knew we were likely in for a climb. I drove us close, but when I thought we were within striking distance and I saw a parking spot painted in white (meaning free parking), I ducked in immediately and parked.

At this point, I admitted to Lizzie I had no idea how far the city was from here, but since we passed 2 pay lots already, I thought it had to be close. When we pulled this tactic in Siena, it resulted in walking directions that took about 45 minutes to get to our destination. I pulled up the map, and it looked like the town center was directly in front of us. Just.. up a really, really high wall.

No problem, we walk around it, and we should be golden!
I'll also note at this point that we went through Pienza on our way and I offered to stop at the pharmacy for Lizzie so we could get her some throat lozenges. We stopped, but unfortunately, they were closed. As we rounded the bend from our parking spot in Montepulciano, we found another farmacia, but unfortunately, it was also closed. It would be open in about a half an hour. Lizzie said she felt ok, so we pressed on into the city. Or at least up.

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Montepulciano is another quite steep hill town. Lizzie has mentioned several times now that when we started talking about "hill towns," she didn't realize in her head that this would involve lots of vertical walking. She thought maybe we drive up the hill, then the towns on top would be relatively flat. This is not the case at all. Pienza was somewhat flat, but that's been the only "hill town" that we've visited that possesses that quality. Montepulciano wasn't quite Cinque Terre, but I feel like after that hike, we probably won't see anything quite that vertical for much of our lives unless we take up rock climbing. The hills there are quite steep, but we took it easy.

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They had several interesting shops including guys that worked with copper and iron, creating very interesting works of art. Door knockers, hinges, cooking utensils... and they were hammering out their crafts as we passed by them.

We read that this town was similar to Siena in that it kept its traditional contrade from medieval times -- tight little neighborhoods -- and similar to Siena, they also have an annual tradition like the horse races where a member from each contrade pushes a wine barrel up the steep slopes of the city to the main square, Piazza Grande. All this for nothing more than bragging rights for your community. The contrade weren't quite as easy to spot as they were in Siena. We saw the flags and the statues throughout the streets of Siena, but here it was much more subdued. I'm not even sure what their mascots are, to be honest.

We made our way up the hill to the Piazza Grande. 2014-04-11-08-36-32_IMG_1630I can't imagine pushing a full wine barrel up that street very quickly. Or maybe at all. I'd likely wind up like Sisyphus, never actually reaching the top. Though I doubt I'd have to keep pushing the barrel up the hill, it'd like split at the bottom and we'd all drink wine out of the puddles on the ground. Now that I think about it, maybe I will see if I can make an appearance at that race...

The piazza looks very similar to other squares in other hill towns. They all have their own character, but they are all very similar to each other as well. I got several pictures of Lizzie sitting down today, given that she isn't quite 100%, but the photo of her laid out on the square might be my favorite.2014-04-11-08-32-06_IMG_16252014-04-11-08-32-53_IMG_16262014-04-11-08-33-28_IMG_1627

We had eaten a bit before we came to Montepulciano, so when I spotted gelato stands on the way up the hill, you know I was looking for new, interesting flavors. We passed a few places that looked great, but had all the flavors I had already tried. The shop just off the piazza had a cream flavor named after the gelato shop, so I figured I would give that a try. It's a bit like the vanilla ice cream I kept trying at until I found a recipe I really liked. It's still vanilla, but you've made it _your_ vanilla. The cream flavor was delicious -- and better than the other cream flavors I've tried thus far.

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Lizzie was still feeling good, so we entered the Cantina Contucci --2014-04-11-08-35-50_IMG_1628 the winery I had alluded to earlier that gives free tastings. We walked in and checked out their palazzo and incredibly large wine cellar with immense barrels. That place doesn't mess around. They make some _wine_.

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Afterward, we headed into the tasting room and were in there with groups from Australia, New Zealand, and another couple from the US. They poured 4 glasses of Nobile -- one aged a single year, and several others that grew in different soils and were aged different lengths. All of them were like all of these hill towns -- very similar, but different in their own way. 2014-04-11-07-59-39_IMG_16162014-04-11-08-25-34_IMG_16212014-04-11-08-27-19_IMG_1624

The woman pouring the wine offered Lizzie a glass, but Lizzie said she really didn't like wine, so thanks, but no grazie.


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Some people let that sit. This woman did not. She told us about how she used to dislike wine, she wouldn't even hold it with more than 2 fingers when she pulled it off the shelf. But then she tasted the Nobile wine, and it changed her mind. I'm pretty sure that since I've been with Lizzie, I've heard several different versions of this story -- either people allow her to say she doesn't like wine, or they try to convert her. Either way, it works for us. Either she doesn't get wine, which isn't so bad in her opinion. Or I get 2 glasses. Which isn't so bad in my opinion.

After the story, she poured a glass of the blue label -- I think that was the ashy soil aged 3 years. (I'm sure I just made that up, I brought home the brochure, if you're interested, I can give you the scoop on which one she selected as the "conversion" wine) I knew Lizzie wasn't going to like it. It still tasted like vino. So, sure enough, one sip, Lizzie made her "I don't like wine face" and handed me her glass.

All the same, though, we bought a half case from the winery. 4 bottles of wine, 1 of their olive oil, and 1 bottle of Vin Santo. Before purchasing, I asked how their Vin Santo was. Still convinced that she could convert my wife, the woman explained how their Vin Santo was made. I know Vin Santo is generally a sweeter wine, so it had a chance of being a winner to Lizzie. And because Lizzie was not yet converted, we got to try their Vin Santo as well. I must say it was very good, but Lizzie still made the face.

I think it might be her cold affecting her tastebuds and her ability to smell, I felt this one should be above the "sweet enough for Lizzie" bar. She said she'll try it again, but she's not yet convinced.
At any rate, the wine was delicious -- we have yet another fancy box from Italy on its way back to our home. And I'm fairly certain our budget has been blown :)  This is no problem, we have other unused envelopes in our savings accounts that will just have to be replenished later. We both agreed on what our actual limits were before we went on this journey. We have the money and you only live once.2014-04-11-08-39-02_IMG_16362014-04-11-08-42-02_IMG_1640

We made the much simpler trek back to the car. All we really had to do was lift up our feet and let gravity do the rest. I suggested we simple lay perpendicular to the direction of the hill climb and then we aren't even required to lift our feet, but Lizzie thought this was a poor idea on the stone covered streets. This is probably a wise decision considering we were carrying an expensive camera and the added disadvantage that the fitbit doesn't count rolling as any steps (I've tried).

Before we got to the car, we stopped in at the farmacia to get some cough drops -- we thought this could easily turn into another episode like at the post office where the person behind the desk doesn't speak a lick of English and I just cling to whatever words I can to try to decipher what it is they are talking about. I looked up the italian word for "lozenge" and "cough" (because cough drop showed no useful results) while we were waiting in line and politely asked "where is the lozenge" and made a poor charade of a person coughing and said the word for cough. It's like caveman speaking, seriously.

The woman behind the counter looked puzzled at first then asked "Cough drops? Are you looking for the drops or the candies?" I don't recall exactly what she said, but the point was, it was english and this was a much easier conversation than I thought it was going to be. Sigh of relief.

We took a photo with the cough drops outside the pharmacy.. note the enormous condom vending machine outside the building. Because. Well. We've seen a bunch of them outside pharmacies here. 2014-04-11-09-13-28_IMG_1647And it's an interesting custom. Probably a good idea -- better than the awkward time spent at the register with a box of condoms I suppose.

We came back to our little paradise for our last night here and I let Lizzie get some more sleep while I drove back out to Pienza to find us dinner. I went into one shop to see if we could get some pasta takeaway (fortunately, the Italian word for pasta is quite easy). They were quite busy, so I wasn't surprised they said no. On the way up the very small hill, I saw a pizza shop -- I thought I'd grab some pizza and pasta and be on my way back with it in no time. I asked the woman behind the counter if you got a whole pie or if it was just a slice and she said it was just a slice, but they were a good side, showing me with her hands. So I figured I'd get 2 slices, move on and get some pasta.

More hilarious language barrier stories. She totally said "taglia" which I had learned was slice, but perhaps she said something that sounds like taglia that really means "entire pizza" and her hand gesture that looked like a large piece of pizza that clearly made a wedge in my mind was really just supposed to show me the diameter of the pie, not the outside edge of the slice. "It's ok" was not the right thing to say, then. So, instead of pasta, we got a large calzone and a medium pizza pie. It was delicious, but I had intended on getting pasta because Lizzie requested that. So I failed her, but at least I had a funny story. And the pizza was good.

I was feeling so bad and stayed in bed the whole afternoon/evening. When Doug came home with food, I scarfed it down. He also got me some tea. I was feeling so bad.

On another side note, neither of us remembered that today was Friday. Which is the sign of a good vacation. But we both ate meat today. So we're making it up to Jesus with no carne Sabado (no meat Saturday). It was easier in those coastal towns, we'll see how we do on our travels through Umbria and on into Rome tomorrow. Ciao!

Lizzie Fitbit: 7,281
Doug Fitbit: 7,123

Saturday, June 28, 2014

April 10, 2014– Pienza!

The Travelpod on this day was written by Lizzie. Words from the Travelpod are in italics and new commentary are in regular text. Enjoy!

Good Evening from Tuscany! Lizzie Here.

Today was the most relaxing day with the least amount of steps and the least amount of photos taken of the entire trip. Neither of us have 10k steps for the first time all trip. You will see why in my description and in the photos. Today was also the first day I did not wear any makeup – Winning!

We did get a few things done today like mail another package to ourselves of the things we have purchased so far and had our laundry done. Those are both wins.

Doug woke up this morning not feeling so well so we slept in. It was a real sacrifice for me. I hate sleeping in…all that rest. Sheesh.
(If you cannot tell, that is oozing with sarcasm.)We headed to the amazing breakfast around 9 am and we were not disappointed. We did bring the camera this time so you can see what we mean. We feasted.2014-04-10-01-13-18_IMG_14912014-04-10-01-13-29_IMG_14922014-04-10-01-11-04_IMG_14902014-04-10-01-20-56_IMG_1495

Then came back to our apartment, packed our dirty clothes and delivered them to Manuela who for 9 Euro a load will wash, dry and fold our laundry. Winning.

Then we did something I thought people only did in the movies – we laid in hammocks in the Tuscan sun and relaxed for an hour or so. 2014-04-10-02-42-22_IMG_15002014-04-10-03-00-28_IMG_15052014-04-10-03-09-03_IMG_15072014-04-10-03-00-39_IMG_15062014-04-10-03-09-38_IMG_1511

I feel asleep in the beautiful sunlight and I was loving my life. After a while we decided it was time to head to Pienza to find the post office and see the small city.

We packed a box (given by Manuela) and taped it up (also from Manuela) and headed to Pienza. It was a long 3 km drive up the hill to the beautiful, small, relaxing Pienza. We quickly found the post office on the main drag and found an awesome free parking spot inches away from the post office.

We walked in to find two postal workers who knew about 10 English words and THANK GOD Doug has been learning Italian for the past 6 months because he could semi-communicate with them. After 20 minutes and lots of hand gestures, we figured out the right forms, labeled everything correctly and sent our boxes ahead of us.

Feeling victorious we headed up to Pienza. It was a lovely, short, slightly uphill walk and then BAM! We were in Pienza. The town is so serene and small. We visited the local church which was commissioned by Pope Pius II in the 1400’s. 2014-04-10-06-12-32_IMG_15302014-04-10-06-09-53_IMG_15222014-04-10-06-11-40_IMG_1528

This church was built on the edge of a hill and is held up by 3 or 4 stories of stones, but it is sinking.

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We walked though and could feel it slanting down and then we noticed all the cracks in the floor and walls. It really does seem like the church will break in half at some point. They have been shoring it for a long time, but it still continues to sink.

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Outside the church:

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As we walked down the streets, we noticed rings all along the buildings. At a closer look, they were uniquely decorated horse holders. People would use the rings to tie up the horses when they were running into the store to get some pecorino (sheep cheese famous in this town.)

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Then we found an adorable cat in a plant pot. Doug got some photos of it and then I approached it and for the first time this entire trip, we met a mean cat. It hissed at me as I got close. Clearly, I backed off – Rude!2014-04-10-06-33-21_IMG_1542

2014-04-10-06-35-21_IMG_1549Then we found the “Via Dell Amore” and strolled down the short walk holding hands. So cheesy.2014-04-10-06-43-33_IMG_1555

It was quite the relaxing walk and perfect for what we needed today – seeing as we are both a little under the weather. (My throat has been bothering me and Doug is still coughing.) We walked around the city and hung out by some beautiful views. Then we grabbed dessert – a crepe for me and gelato for Doug.2014-04-10-06-52-39_IMG_15592014-04-10-07-01-01_IMG_1561

I could tell Doug was starting to feel bad so we headed back to the car and drove the long 3 kilometer drive home. We both took a great nap for 2 hours. Can’t you tell this is our laziest day ever?

Side Note: We really enjoyed Pienza. It was what we expected Sienna to be like, but was not. It was charming, quiet and MUCH less cars speeding around walls. It was also much flatter than Sienna. It is safe to say we preferred Pienza over Sienna. Sienna has about 60k people while Pienza has about 3k so there are less things to do, but it was right up our alley.
Back to the story…Then we woke up, enjoyed the Tuscan sunset and came into our little apartment to relax.2014-04-10-11-28-04_IMG_15632014-04-10-11-30-08_IMG_15652014-04-10-11-41-24_IMG_15822014-04-10-11-32-29_IMG_1567

It was dinner time (7:30 pm – 9 pm is dinner in Italy) and we had planned to cook in. We had purchased some pici pasta from the front desk earlier. When Doug felt hungry enough he got to cooking dinner. 2014-04-10-12-21-49_IMG_15852014-04-10-12-22-38_IMG_15902014-04-10-12-28-01_IMG_15942014-04-10-12-28-31_IMG_1596

I video chatted with my mom (special guest appearances from Uncle Mike and Aunt Carolyn) while Doug cooked. Such is the life! He boiled the pasta and made a “sauce” from olive oil (what else?!) and heated some left over pork from dinner last night. Then added some spices to the sauce (all provided in the apartment), threw in the perfectly cooked noodles and we had a fabulous dinner. Thanks Doug! You rock.

After dinner, I got back to blogging and realized we forgot to get our laundry so I headed out to find our clean clothes. They were being folded as I arrived so it was good timing.2014-04-10-13-03-53_IMG_1597 I brought our laundry to the room and noticed someone had come out of the “library” (a common space and free standing building on property) with hot tea! I was all over that. I headed in and made Doug and I some green tea. The tea helped my throat and helped Doug clear his lungs. It was perfect.2014-04-10-13-04-09_IMG_1598

There was some discussion about heading back to Pienza for gelato, but it was decided we would stay in. I am frankly surprised we are not getting gelato, but Doug is generally unpredictable. (quick note from doug -- like a loose cannon! Honestly, the 3 shops we went into had relatively simple flavors, most of which I had already tried. There was one shop where we got Lizzie's crepe that had an interesting ricotta cheese based flavor, but I think they were already closed -- I saw their hours while waiting for them to make the crepe)

Our plan for the rest of the night includes doing the dishes from dinner (I offered since Doug cooked), drinking green tea and watching a movie. It was the perfect ending to a slow, relaxing day.

I just looked at my fitbit and I do not even have 7000 steps! Ha! Oh well.
As I sit here and enjoy my green tea, I am reminded of how lucky we are to be here and enjoy Italy. This has been a great experience and we are so blessed in so many ways. Hug your loved ones. We love you all!
Love and Hugs, Lizzie

Lizzie Fitbit: 7,197
Doug Fitbit: 4,775