Thursday, August 1, 2013

Italy Birthdaycation Part 2: Tuscany

We flew to Pisa on the morning of July 4th. Amazingly enough, there was no border patrol or customs to go through when we got to Italy, we just walked right in. Our passports didn't even get stamped. (Leaving the country was a lot more of an ordeal.) Since we were supposed to have spent the previous night in Pisa, the plan for the day was to take a train to a little village in Tuscany called Barga. We purchased our tickets, and luckily there was a train getting ready to leave just as we arrived. So we hopped on and enjoyed the view on our train ride through the Italian countryside.

It's funny to think about how in awe we were of the scenery on that first train ride. By the end of the trip we were taking naps and hardly noticing the castles and churches on hills and little villages, but we thoroughly enjoyed taking in all the sights on our first train ride.

We arrived in Barga just before lunch time and took a cab up to the Renaissance Hotel, which sat perched in the mountains with a beautiful view of the scenery and the village. As soon as we arrived, we all wished we were staying for more than one night.

We got lunch at the hotel, and while we all would have loved to take a nap, or just lounge by the pool, the cute little village of Barga was calling our names. So we called a cab and they dropped us off at the entrance to the medieval part of the town (there was an "old town" from the middle ages and a "new town" that was built to accommodate things like cars) and we set off to explore. It's crazy to think that the buildings that we were walking among were all older than the U.S.

There was a sweet little church at the top of the hill that overlooked both the old town and the new town.

The view from the top of the hill was amazing.

And we were really tired.

After walking around the old town we crossed the bridge to the new town, where there was a park with littles playing soccer and people just relaxing. I loved the pace of life here.

We did some of our own sitting and relaxing, along with a little bit of shopping. Derek's parents found a little family owned grocery store and made friends with the owners. When Derek and I showed up to the store they were drinking wine and sharing life stories. They were so friendly, as were so many of the locals in the village.

These are bags full of beans and things in the grocery store - so cool!
We had probably the best dinner of the trip in Barga. It was our first experience with the Italian menu and first courses and second courses and separate side dishes. We each ordered a first course of home made pasta, then we ordered 2 second courses,which were meat courses (Derek and I shared one and Bob and Linda shared one) and we each ordered our own side dish of veggies, potatoes, etc.. All of the food was delicious, but we quickly realized after our first course that we ordered way too much food. We ended up giving our salad to the table next to us because we just couldn't even think about trying to eat it on top of everything else. Dinner is late in Italy. Most restaurants don't open until 7:30, and the meal is supposed to be a social experience, so they last a long time. It was nearly dark by the time dinner was over, so we headed back to the hotel, since at this point some of us were going on 4 hours of sleep in a 52 hour period. We also had an early train to Venice to catch in the morning.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Hehehe... Derek peeking out of the confessional! Wow, these pics are goregous, can't wait to see where your travels took you next!