Emily got a new memory card and is now "aware" of Italy. She did a great job guiding us thru the many winding roads and confusing signage. We reprogrammed her voice to Italian for kicks...much better than her British pronunciations of Italian roads.
The weather was beautiful for our drive south into Chianti. Stayed clear of the autostatas and twisted through the countryside. Stopped for a quick walk in tiny Inprutetta... famous around the world for its terra cotta creations...but not on Sunday. Not a single shop open.
Moved on to the town of Greve in the heart of the Chianti wine region. Still very sedated, but enough people for restaurants to be open in the central square. Ate on the square...pastas that hit the spot. Jeff had a celebratory glass of Chianti.
Emily's alter ego Patrizia guided us south past vineyards and olive trees. Long wide valleys...lush green dotted with red poppies in every nook. Hilltops capped by old towns. Swung around Siena and arrived via a southern entry...the Porta Tufi. Parked at one of the large city garages that sit at the old walled city edges.
Walked the last 15min to our little B&B...the cozy Palazzo Masi situated right in the heart of medieval Siena. Greeted by grinning Daniela and her husband, who wlecomed us back for our second visit.
At 7pm, Daniela directed us to a special treat, a colorful celebration in advance of the city's signature festival...the Palio in July. Today, the city announced which of the city's neighborhoods would compete in the Palio. At the Campo, last year's victors marched in with drums and flags and uniforms of green and red...their neighborhood colors. Brass trumpeters played from above, and neighborhood flags were hung in a ritual we only vaguely followed. Rival neighborhoods chanted and sang. A lucky glimpse of Siena's rich history.
Dinner at our favorite Sienese restaurant...Trattoria Papei...which seems to draw locals and visitors alike. Tuscan fare is very meat-centric (yay for me :) Jeff's spaghetti al ragu di carne and my wide noodles with wild boar were both amazing. Our main dishes were equally flavorful: a rich chicken cacciatore and a tender beef fillet. (Mom...you would have loved the beef...VERY rare in the middle.) Finished the meal with capuccini and a decadent lemon cream torte topped with almonds and powdered sugar...YUM!
A long after-dinner walk up to the Duomo...our favorite church in Italy. Winding streets. Unexpected whimsical fountains.
As I write this entry with weary eyes, we can still hear the revelry on the Campo.