The Chianti region outside of Florence.
So though I am very disappointed in myself, I slept most of the way through our very scenic bus ride. I did catch glimpses here and there and it was positively breathtaking, but as much as I tried to fight it, the Z monster won again. I'm sure it had something to do with all the energy I had spent on our mad dash through Florence to even catch this bus. I awoke for the final time about 10 minutes from our final destination. We are basically winding hills on a street only wide enough for one vehicle. Had I been awake for the whole thing, I probably would have been in a panic. Our guide is saying something or another, but to be honest her English was so bad I didn't catch a word she was saying.
An uncooperative Peacock
We arrived at Querceto and oohed and ahhed over the grounds, particularly over a very large peacock that we harassed to see if it would fan its tail, but instead it just ran away. We stood on a rooftop terrace over looking the fields as our host explained the history of this particular winery. Then he led us through the cellar which had bottles of wine from as far back as 1904. - Wow! After a tour of the facility we ended up at this outdoor dining area that was high above the fields. It was really like being inside a postcard. Everyone at our table was American except Belinda and Mark from Ireland and Scotland respectively. We actually went around the table and introduced ourselves and I showed off by remembering everyones names still 5 minutes later.
The old castle where we had our tour and wine tasting in the Chianti region
And here, I would like to show off again...the others were Michelle and Denise (girls taking a two week Italian Language Course), Tara and Steve (honeymooners), Fred and Brenda (a retired couple that coincidentally were staying at our same hotel), and then Belinda and Mark. Man, I should get some sort of reward for this memory of mine! We were all a generally friendly bunch made friendlier by tasting several wines! We tasted vin santo, which I have never had before. It's a very strong golden wine that you dip biscotti in...actually they call it cantucci, but it seemed like biscotti to me. Regardless, the vin santo itself wasn't that great, but with the cantucci I kind of liked it. I do like sweet things, after all.
Following the wine tasting we got back on the bus and were dropped into some little town to explore for 45 minutes.
At our wine tasting
Angela and I tooled around taking pictures and souvenir shopping and then met up with Michelle and Denise at a cute little restaurant for some wine. It was funny because Angela and I spent 5 minutes at the door of this place trying to figure out why they were closed when finally we realized the door pushed in instead of opening outwards. And just like that, they were open! Maybe we didn't need that glass of wine after all. I managed to stay awake for the trip back to Florence, and wouldn't you know it, we took some non-scenic route. We went through an area that was mostly just industrial. I would like to point out though, I saw no cows anywhere! Where are they keeping them?
We make it back to Florence and say our good-byes to the group and head back to our hotel.
Outside of the wine tasting
We decide to do some shopping and grab a bite to eat. I am surprisingly not that hungry, so we just wander about allowing the hosts to attempt to sell us...and here we make another wrong decision. One young man, upon asking where we are from, shocks and amazes us when he does O-H-I-O. For those of you that live in caves, Ohio State has a cheer that is very popular that spells out Ohio, a bit like Y-M-C-A. So he does this and though I am impressed, I still don't want to eat there. Ang, however, says "oh come on, he did the O-H-I-O cheer" Fine! So we eat there, after verifying that yes, we can split a pizza since neither of us is very hungry. So we get a pizza, and it's just average and we are all done and I think we have settled the bill when the waiter comes after Angela as we are leaving.
We had more wine after the wine tasting at this cute place...in the town whose name I can't recall! ...too much wine perhaps?
They proceed to have an all out, very loud argument over Angela's five euro bill. He insists that it is no good. Angela insists it must be because someone gave it to her. The root of this argument stems from the fact that Angela's bill is taped together. This is apparently the change the man gave her in that town that I can't remember the name. They argue a good 5 minutes, with the manager coming out too. I at this point distance myself from the scene. Finally, Angela caves and gives him other money, but she fumed the rest of the evening. She thinks he was pissed off about us sharing the pizza. What is it the Italians have against sharing? Later we get gelato and that same 5 euro bill spends quite nicely.
Downtown???? I can't remember the name of the town :(
After dinner, we pick up some more souvenirs and drop them off at the hotel, before deciding to head out in a direction we haven't gone before. As we walk, the crowds start to pick-up and we realize we are heading toward something. You can feel the excitement and there are droves of people heading to an entrance. We have no idea what to expect, but are so excited to have stumbled upon something local. Turns out it is the Latin America Festival, which for some reason baffles Angela. I say, why not? We have Italian Festivals at home! We spend an hour and half just walking around. This fair put our fairs to shame. For one, it's free (Milwaukee are you listening?), also, they have rollerskating, and golf and a shopping center, and free bands, and bars, and restaurants, I could go on, but I wont.
However, I do wish we hadn't eaten that pizza, because I would have loved to eat here. Oh well! We head back to the hotel and start to repack our things for our move to Bologna
tomorrow. Angela has bought so many souvenirs that tomorrow she will need to buy a backpack to transport the souvenirs. Luckily, we have all morning tomorrow in Florence, because I want to go back to the market and pick up some food souvenirs. We make a tentative game plan and decide we can sleep in a little tomorrow. Yes! End of Day 5.