15 September 2014
After checking out of our hotel we walked the mile or so to the rental car office to pick up our rental car. When we got there we thought we might get GPS, but it was never an offered option to upgrade so I immediately became way too nervous and a little grumpy because I thought this just might end up as a horrible decision. Once in the car we saw a small tobacco shop two doors down, so after making a loop a few looking for a place to park, I jumped out and bought a map of the Siena province. Back in the car, Adam took one look at the map and told me I bought the wrong one. Again this made me feel even worse and I was wondering if this was going to be a complete disaster. We did have a smaller city/region map of Siena that we had received from our hotel which had a map that would get us to the city of Volterra, where we planned on making a stop, so we were going to have to rely on that and the directions to get out to the highway the rental agent had given us. We made it out of the city and on to a local road, avoiding the highway and their hefty tolls, and were soon out in the rolling Tuscan foothills. By this point I had finally relaxed about the maps and directions as road sign were everywhere and we really didn’t even look at the maps and there was no yelling over directions, it was like a Christmas miracle.
We decided to make a slight detour to Volterra to explore the town and grab some lunch while we were on our way out to the village of Terricciola where we’d be staying for a week. Volterra turned out to be a great spot for an afternoon detour as its large enough that you can enjoy getting lost while wandering, but because there’s no train that stops here there are only a handful of tourists who make the journey.
Spying on the local who’s spying on the tourists
We also bought a region map here which had Terricciola called out and other small towns along the way. With a week in town we thought we might do some short drives in the region as well. After spending a few hours wandering the town streets and waiting around for the church to open (good thing we got a late start) we hopped back in our car to drive the final 45 minutes to Terricciola.
Weird modern art in the ruins of an old coliseum
We did have a good laugh as we were approaching Terricciola, Adam looked into the rearview mirror and laughed as he said, ‘oh how things have changed when you have a grandma tailgating you.’ You can’t say you have been on a road trip in Italy until you have a grandma tailgating you. I think it is a rite of passage here as a tourist.
Once we were settled in we made our way into town for dinner and to do some exploration.
I think we picked the right town
We wandered along the main road and when we saw the sign for the view point we followed along a nice path below the homes in town with views of rolling foothills for miles. It was also a great spot to watch the sunset before the two restaurants in town opened for dinner.
While our meal was okay, our highlight for the evening was listening in on what our fellow Americans from the south were discussing at the table behind us. We now have this weird need to just listen to native English speakers and what topics they discuss.
Today’s Travel: Driving from Siena to Terricciola along highway 429 to 68 to Volterra for a stop then along a side road to highway 439 to Terricciola
Accommodations: Casale Podernovo. Holy wow! This place is straight out of a movie. When we booked this place and saw a few pictures (slow internet made it impossible to watch their video) I assumed we were going to be staying in a nice place, but arriving here we were both blown away. The property sits on the end of gravel road as a lone hill surrounded by valleys of vineyards and olive trees with various small hill towns on the perimeter in the distance. When we checked in we were told our room was double booked but that we would be staying in the Aliotto room to which turns out to be the biggest on the property and located on the second and third floors with windows everywhere gave us sweeping views of almost every angle (if they hadn’t locked the tower we would have had even better views).
I really didn’t know what window had the best view. And of course everything about the place was great, a living area with fireplace, a big kitchen with seating for 8 and a large room with an ensuite. As we walked around we had to laugh as it felt like this place was bigger than the home we had sold.