Once again I must start my story with a memory of our rental car saga.... On the way back from Montisi to Rome we exited the Autostrade and inserted our ticket with the money and received our change. Great no problem.....and we waited for the gate to open so we could exit... but it didn't! OMG not another rental story but yes this was so funny I wish I had it on video. We pushed the call button and explained and a voice came back and said insert the ticket and Rocky said we did and already got our change. We waited and the voice came back and said with a deeper voice insert the ticket... and we repeated our reply. Well..... a few minutes passed and the voice was back and screamed insert the ticket and both Rocky and I screamed we don't have a ticket and then silence. Next a bell goes off and a ticket spits out of the machine charging us for the whole road as if we had lost our ticket. To say we were dumbfounded was an understatement and then once again went hysterical laughing as you cant make up these tales! After sitting for another five minutes as we refused to pay again...we wondered what would become of this situation. As you could imagine traffic was building up and I even got out and was waving to people to back up. A woman behind us from Finland even tried to help but she didn't speak Italian either. Well finally the gate went up and off we went and later explained to Hertz what had happened when we turned in the car. We were so over the rental car and we had plenty of time before our next rental car in two weeks when we returned to England.
Now back in Rome after ditching the car (really over it by now) checked into our hotel. We were meeting my Cousin Debbie and her husband Bill that evening for dinner. They were on a tour of Italy and had a free night so I arranged to stay at the same hotel to make it easier to meet up. It was a fun time and one that we will always remember sharing an evening in Rome and stories of our travel adventures!
The next day started out cloudy and we went to Trevi Fountain. We had missed it last trip as it was under construction. Our original plan was to visit Tivoli Gardens but decided against it with the weather forecast. Trevi Fountain is one of those places you have to experience to appreciate it. There is magic in the air with so many throwing in coins with the delight of their wishes coming true. Its funny how a movie and idea has prevailed and never gone out of style. It was there we bought our first selfie stick as we were tired of cutting off our heads or bothering others to take pictures although we still did that too! I have to admit it takes some getting used to and no wonder some places say no to them as it's easy to hit people along the way.
We were rain-free till we arrived at the Spanish Steps and then it made its appearance! We were prepared ...I even had a poncho for Rocky that was all over the place in the wind. It also doesn't photograph well! LOL ;)
We took in the situation and decided to jump in a cab and head to Harry's Bar for a cocktail and people watch. We ended up inside to escape the damp weather as well as the cigarette smokers. I will not get started on my smoking rants but I was truly amazed how many people still smoke like mad. In comparison we have much fewer smokers here and far more non smoking areas. They say you cant smoke in a restaurant but outdoors the air quality is horrible and you cant taste your food.... OK I will stop and not offend anyone. We met and talked with several people and had a lovely afternoon.
We then went for a walk as it stopped raining and shopped some before returning to the Hotel. Before heading to the train station the next morning we went down for a light breakfast and we met two lovely ladies from Connecticut. Lisa and Betty were on their way home and we heard about their fun time on tour and I shared the tow truck story and we laughed all over again.
We next went to the train station and caught the Frecciarosa high speed to Naples and then on to the Water taxi to Sorrento. In Naples we went back for a slice of pizza at the cafe we stopped at five years ago. We were so surprised to see our same waiter and he remembered us immediately....makes you feel special ! Will continue tomorrow with stories and pictures of Sorrento!
These pretty steps are where this story begins...a charming town close to Montisi called Pienza. Let me begin by explaining that our trip to Italy and England was to capture the unexpected and go with the flow connecting to the locals and feeling a part of these picturesque towns we were visiting.
Ok.... now picture after a lovely afternoon of shopping and meeting some beautiful people in Pienza and literally smelling the roses in the gardens along the way ..... yes at the next turn.... trouble awaited us upon returning to our rental car! As we were leisurely walking and remarking what a perfect afternoon it was we looked and saw our rental car on a tow truck! Oh no we both said in unison and looked at each other and both started running..... Please stop that's our car....Help!
When I say this was a comedy of sorts....it truly was hilarious as the locals had gathered outside as several tow trucks were lined up towing not only our car but three others. It seems we all parked in a bus stop zone. Rocky said you talk to the Police Officer while I talk to the tow truck driver and lets work fast as we thought they were going to pull away any minute.
I approached the Police Officer who wasn't too happy and explained I'm sorry in English and didn't speak Italian and could he please release our car! He looked at me and said No Madam! Now you have to know me to understand that I immediately started to smile and said.. Really! ( with a surprised look on my face) Then I realized he didn't speak much English. Once again I said I'm sorry and started making hand motions ..I was confused as what to do and started asking anyone if they spoke English. By now Rocky looked over and was throwing up his arms like how was I making out and at that moment I burst out laughing and the police officer was staring at me like are you kidding me and I was thinking the same. So next I took out my wallet and asked him in Italian' Quanto Costa ? Now the Bus driver appears and says Madam you cant pay the Police Officer and I'm explaining I'm not trying to pay the police officer I just want the car. When I say this was hysterical it truly was.
Next scene the bus driver talks to the police officer and then he says OK Madam and tells the tow truck worker to release the car. In the meantime I walk over to Rocky to tell him were OK they're releasing the car and he says that's not our car... I could only again reply... Really.... (with the same look) I cant make this up there were two gray SUV's and I thought the one I pointed to was ours ...after all I was only in it once and they were both Gray and so similar! When I went to tell the Police officer my mistake he was furious and ripped up the ticket and muttered something in Italian. I then spoke to the bus driver again who did speak some English and we were able to get it under control and get the car back. Not cheaply I might add it cost us 120 Euros to get it off the truck and then 60 Euros to be paid at the post office the next day as the parking ticket.
I will close by saying although it was costly it was really very very funny ...and as I hoped we did connect to the locals and will never forget our experience in Pienza and the Police Officer that afternoon
We started our two week Italian adventure with a flight from Gatwick London to Rome. After renting a car and taking the Autostrade (highway) we headed for our absolute favorite place..... Montisi! We had visited Montisi five years ago and vowed to come back and enjoy this quaint village with breath taking views. This is where I realized that my eyes saw sights that changed my heart and mind forever! ;) We were staying at La Romita .... a beautiful bed and breakfast run by Alberto and his lovely wife Giovanna. A beautiful room with a balcony, view and lovely furniture was just the beginning. Our room was upstairs with two other rooms and in addition they had two sitting areas that we enjoyed one afternoon and one evening after dinner. Alberto and Giovanna were the perfect hosts and made us feel like family. When we arrived we learned they had kept their trattoria open so we could enjoy a late supper. The first bite of my zucchini salad with fresh tomatoes (the best I ever tasted )with a simple dressing of Alberto's olive oil was tremendous! We followed it with some Tagtiatelle with tomato sauce, so delicious as well. Off we went for a moonlight walk and explore this village and its charm.
On another night I had asked Addita (know I spelled her name wrong...sorry) if they had any soup as the temperature was getting chilly...she said unfortunately no. I said no worries and thought Id order some hot coffee or something when back she came and said Giovanna was making me some soup. That evening we went to their trattoria across the walkway and I enjoyed the soup made with chick peas and greens and fresh tomatoes in the broth. It was so delicious and I felt so special she had cooked it for me in her kitchen and brought it over. Thanks again Giovanna!
Montisi is part of Montalcino and close to the Province of Siena. It is comprised of four contradas (neighborhoods). Little English is spoken here but communication is not hard with the lovely people so genuine and wanting to share with you their simple life and culture. This is a destination when your agenda like mine is to connect with the locals and experience their tastes, talents and simply their life style that is filled with pride and tradition. Italians speak in metaphors that make a simple conversation so descriptive with depth and meaning. One night we ate at a lovely restaurant in the village called Ristorante Ritorno di Fiamma and met the owner Marilena. She writes on her menu that "cooking is my way of giving, eating is a way to love" and also writes "During life we meet lots of masks and just a few faces". Marilena was a beautiful host and we talked face to face as she said. I tasted her gifts of food and yes felt the love in her delicious recipes and beautiful presentation. After dinner we met up with Pia and Klaus from Vienna also staying at La Romita for drinks. It was fun getting to know them and share our stories together. Hopefully some day we will meet again perhaps here in Florida or Vienna!
In addition to La Romita, Alberto has an olive oil business. He showed us where he presses the olives and how his family began many years ago. He also showed us his Mother and Fathers apartment from years ago and I will forever keep the images in my mind. The Fireplace in the Kitchen with the copper pot and old stove and big table and I could go on were a step back in time. Kept pristine, I was envisioning myself shopping at the local market and then coming back and start cooking in this magical space. For a helpless romantic like me... my mind, body and soul were on overload!! LOL!
It was such a treat taking another art class as I did five years ago with Elizabeth Cochrane. We did an outdoor scene on location overlooking the subject doorway pictured above in the photos. She is a fabulous teacher with such patience for beginners like myself. We set up the easels and sketched first then did the water colors. It was an amazing experience and I'm holding the picture above with Giovanna. Im laughing at the picture of me with Elizabeth ...live painting... as I had to tie my scarf around my sweater so I didn't get paint all over me and now looking at this picture ....saying OMG so funny! Elizabeth you look fabulous! ;) From long walks to talking with locals, trips to neighboring villages ( next post) we relaxed and took in the beauty of Montisi. A special thanks to Alberto, Giovanna, their son and daughter in law Kathy(sorry for my spelling and Addita, at La Romita.
Our visit this year will hold a special place in our hearts. We were touched once again by the kindness and true genuine spirit of the lovely people of this village!
Our Holiday began with our flight from Orlando to Gatwick Airport London. We flew British Airways and had a great flight. We booked Premium economy and enjoyed the extra leg room and larger seats as well as the foot rest.... well worth the price on longer trips. We were greeted by a great crew and given a glass of champagne and then hot towels to freshen our hands. So nice to be pampered! We enjoyed a lovely dinner and then relaxed and before you knew it they were back offering a light breakfast before landing. It's so funny as you certainly don't work up an appetite on a plane but we tried all the goodies. LOL!
We arrived at 7:00 am and going thru Customs was quick easy and organized. We were staying at the Hilton at the airport, as we had an early morning flight to Rome the next day. After dropping our luggage we caught a cab and off we went to Hever Castle.
As the English would say the weather was "brilliant" for a day to visit the Castle and the Gardens. It was sunny and cool about 65-70 degrees or 18-21 degrees Celsius. This really was great to keep us awake!
We enjoyed the gardens first and we were actually amazed we made it thru the maze! ;) They had a beautiful Italian Garden as well as a rose Garden, herb and topiary. Walking thru we met a lovely couple Norma and Brian. They gave us some history of the Castle and we shared our love for all the roses... I explained to them how hard it is to grow roses in Florida with the heat. I have some knockout roses that do ok but the climbing beautiful ones there at the Castle we cant grow. It was lovely talking with them and listening to their accent and enthusiasm to visiting the many castles and gardens in England. We took a lovely picture and then walking thru another garden I came upon a lovely bride and groom. We wished them luck and of course snapped a picture and off we went to tour the Castle.
At the front door they had a woman dressed in costume... the picture is above. It always adds to the fun seeing the clothing and such. The Castle is actually small but very charming. It has a double Moat surrounding it. This was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn the second wife of King Henry V111. I'm challenged trying to figure how to type Henry the 8th! We enjoyed the tour and its history and looking at all the beautiful paintings. The woodwork and staircases were true works of art. The workmanship and details amazing. They even recreated a bed not actually Anne's bed but similar to give people an idea rather than have an empty rooms. Its amazing how times and styles have changed and yet Europe marvels with the style and culture of the past. You have to remember this castle was a country home built in the 13th century and Anne Boelyn spent her childhood here. Of course it has been updated somewhat but you still walk up and down narrow staircases and by the end of the afternoon I was exhausted and needed a cup of coffee to keep me going. We visited the gift shop and then on to the restaurant for a cappuccino for energy!
It was a beautiful day and certainly a Grand place to start our Holiday! As a helpless Romantic I could envision being in the garden sipping a Cool Vodka and Tonic and perhaps penning some Poetry! Aww yes enjoying the Life of a Royal!
I will continue the saga tomorrow as we fly to Italy for two glorious weeks.
Talk to you soon ...Cheerio
After taking quite a long hiatus from blogging..... I'm back and excited to share what I've been up to since my last post in January. It has been a great year with projects around the house, new hobbies, lots of cooking and entertaining and most recently our European Holiday! If this is your first visit to my blog... Britalia Way was inspired by my family background being English and my Husbands background being Italian. Thus Britalia Way began back in 2013.
In May of this year we decided we would return to both England and Italy for a holiday. I love the fall and our last trip back in 2014 was amazing so quickly we penciled in dates and began planning. We don't tour in groups rather go it alone renting cars, taking trains, water taxi's and just exploring at our own pace.
Our theme for this Holiday was Castles, Crowns and Gardens! On our last visit we saw all the important tourist attractions and this time I wanted relaxation,beauty and connecting to the people of these beautiful Countries.
I thought Id give you an overview of what we did for our three weeks and then each day share some stories and pictures of each delightful place we visited.
We began our journey by flying from Orlando airport to Gatwick in England. We spent a lovely day at Hever Castle and then had an early flight to Rome the next day. We arrived in Rome to a beautiful day and rented a car to travel to Montisi for three days. We love this village which is in Tuscany a part of Montalcino . The views are breath taking and the people so friendly. After three days which included a visit to local towns and Pienza we headed back to Rome.
There we were meeting my Cousin Debbie and her Husband Bill for dinner. They were part of a tour and we were able to book the same hotel for one night to meet up and visit. We then spent two days in Rome before heading by high speed train to Naples.
In Naples we transferred to a water taxi and continued on to Sorrento. We spent three days there including a visit to Capri and then went back to Naples and took the high speed train to Florence. We spent five glorious days in Florence with a visit to Parma and then on to two beautiful days in Venice with a visit to Burano.
We bid Venice goodbye and flew back to Gatwick for a week visiting the Cotswold region. These towns are like storybook towns and the people are so much fun.
It was a beautiful Holiday and I will enjoy sharing so many memorable stories and pictures! I always enjoy chance meetings and say the language that is spoken is the one felt in the heart that you return with. I have many heartfelt people to introduce.
Talk to you soon
Welcome to Britalia Way! Thanks for stopping by. Please join me as I share with you a series about food, people and experiences that are special to me. English and Italian traditions are so enticing and were the inspiration for creating Britalia Way!
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