Saturday, December 15, 2007

Driving through the Chianti area (7 of 10)

Today we had another early start. We went down in the lift from our second floor room with the views over the Elsa Valley, to the coffee shop just outside the door of the hotel and a couple of steps to the right.

The same white fan tailed pigeon was there to greet us each day – hoping for croissant crumbs. It hoped in vain as we were just there for an early morning (7am) coffee and to admire the empty piazza. No wind reached this square. The tall hotels, towers and apartments must have stopped it in its tracks.

After a leisurely breakfast in the beautiful room on the hotel’s first floor we consulted our map and decided the best route for a morning drive to visit Jane and Ken, also from Slow Travel.

Soon we were off to Poggibonsi; going into the beginning of the town until we found signs for Castellina di Chianti, which is on the road to the vineyard in Greve in Chianti where they have an apartment for a year. The roads along the way were thickly forested with signs advising one to take care in case a leaping deer chose to bound across the road in front of your car.

The countryside on the drive was magnificent. We passed an occasional castle or tower, beautiful stone farm house rustici up on hill sides and many vineyards. Being autumn, the leaf color was spectacular and leaves floated and fluttered past us when we stopped for photographs. How lucky to live in a vineyard! The practice of planting rosebushes at the end of a row of vines just made it even more beautiful.

Left to right, Ken, Leslie, Jane

What a warm feeling it gave us to meet up with Slow Travel friends. We talked about it for days afterwards. The Internet sure makes the world a lot smaller.

Back to San Gimignano, through Castellina in Chianti, we parked the car in Parcheggio 1 across from the supermarket and Via Baccanella, a few meters down past the San Giovanni gate. To get to this car park from Albergo La Cisterna, we walked downhill down Via San Giovanni, out the gate, staying left, (on the right is a very expensive car park), and walked past the little row of shops and bars (a rose garden is on the right). Going down a little flight of stairs, Via Baccanella was just in front of us. Walking down Via Baccanella, we came to the town Coop and then the town’s very cheapest pay parking car park.

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