Regello to Florence/Firenze

July 7, 2017 at 3:32 pm (Uncategorized)

“Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes describes the hills of Tuscany in incredibly accurate detail. I can say this, now, as we’re staying in a home via Airbnb in the Tuscan hills of Regello. It was 95 F on a recent day, and the rolling hills of recently harvested wheat, trees in seemingly every hue of green, and large homes nestled in and among said wheat and trees verily radiated the sun’s heat, down into the shady interstices that nurture myriad hens and cocks, the latter of which indeed crow at the crack of dawn.

Every view from the Knudsen-Jones hilltop is picture-postcard perfect. And in the cities we’ve had the privilege to visit – Florence/Firenze and Siena, as well as the small wine-tasting community of Greve in Chianti and tiny village of Villambroso – everything is beautifully appointed. The shop windows and shops themselves are inviting in their display of their wares. The painted, wood-slatted shutters seem from some film starring a young Isabella Rossellini. Whether its knick-knacks in Florence, medieval seals in Siena, or olive oil and grappa in Greve in Chianti, commerce beckons. At least the admiration of it.

And the vistas cannot be beat. Even Alyssa, whose nose was in a book or glued to her phone on many of our drives, commented on the stunning nature of what we were seeing, as well as a tavola as two families at dinner, on our patio. (Hayley had comments, but given her age of inching toward 14, many of them were critical and not about the scenery. They don’t earn quotes for this blog post.)

But despite all that is so wonderful to look upon and soak in, in this part of Italy, anyway, France wins. Maybe I feel that way because I can get along with such ease in France versus here, where people speak excellent Italian but often nothing else (or too little English to make a dent in any question to which I’m seeking an answer).

The drivers – whether of buses, trucks, farm equipment, cars, bikes, scooters, or motorcycles – are scary horrible. I cannot believe we didn’t witness deaths on the “streets” of our little village or those of the bustling city of Florence/Firenze or Siena. I put “streets” in quotation marks because most of them are narrow like licorice ropes, and many of them look to be pedestrian-only. But guess again: Here comes a tour bus! Jump outta way!

Laws guiding anything on wheels seem irrelevant, if non-existent. There are seemingly no marked passing lanes, for example. Because everyone just passes, willy-nilly. Around a hairpin curve. Over a hill. Around to an imposing farm vehicle, navigating a blind corner. At high speed. It is a spectacle I’d rather watch in a movie (which I have), than in the passenger seat (which I’ve done for a week now. Dave is an incredible and brave rental-car conductor. For me: no grazie).

Also, as noted before, the French stereotypically are rude-ish people. I didn’t expect to encounter that here. I expected more happy-go-lucky folks, tipsy on brunellos or chiantis, and relaxed by the sun’s warmth. Rather, whereas the French can be nose-in-the-air snotty, the Italians seem to have an edge. Not the same edge as the Israelis; the sabras are more “direct” than “edgy.” But an edge nonetheless. Perhaps it comes from driving very angry or having to constantly dart out of the way of angry drivers.

And there also is a grand sense of chaos here. Not the organized kind. But the milling-about, nobody-knows-which-end-is-up type of chaos. Maybe that fuels the edge.

Did we interact with lovely, thoughtful people, despite the language barrier? Absolutely. But we also encountered very brusque waiters, ticket-counter folks at museums who clearly detested their jobs, and shop owners seriously pissed I asked to use my card when it was a cash-only establishment (unbeknownst to me before proffering my card). Feh.

Want more specifics? Wait for or click to the next post.

 

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