Our Italian Adventure: 7-14 September 2002
So in Sept 2002, I spent a glorious week in Tuscany (Italy) with my buddies Ailish and Aideen. We took an early morning flight from Dublin to Bologna with Air 2000 which took only 2 ½ hours. There we picked up our rental car, with Ailish being the driver and me being the navigator! We had all been pretty busy at work so this trip was intended to be relaxing with a bit of sight-seeing thrown in for good measure. We had picked a farm stay way out in the country but within easy reach of beautiful cities like Florence and Siena.
As we belted down the autostrade that first afternoon heading for our accommodation for the week, the gorgeous Fattoria di Nerbona, I think we fell in love with this region instantly. Olive groves and vineyards as far as the eye could see, rolling hills and picturesque towns: Tuscany is home to some places that are too beautiful to be true. The remains of fields of sunflowers were still visible but had nearly all been harvested by that stage.
The plan was to have no plan ….but we were looking forward to mornings spent with breakfast, homemade in our one-bed self-catering apartment at the Fattoria, days spent sight-seeing, and the evenings spent enjoying magnificent sunsets out in the countryside – you can’t get more Tuscan than that! Looking back all these years later, I remember that we found it so easy to switch-off and be more in the present – life slows down in Tuscany, just enough that it’s therapeutic.
My trip through Tuscany with the girls was one of my best and most memorable trips (not just because I got to spend it with great friends). This blog post gives a flavour of what we experienced.
Our Tuscan Accommodation
With two outdoor pools and self-catering apartments with wood-beamed ceilings, Fattoria Agriturismo Nerbona is set amidst the Tuscan countryside 10 km from Colle Di Val D'Elsa. Located either in the main building (where we were) or in an annex 1.5 km away, all apartments have a flat-screen TV, a fully equipped kitchenette, and a private bathroom with a shower. Free WiFi is now available throughout the main building, as well as in the communal areas of the annex. This is a YouTube video of what it looks like:
Each building of the property has a swimming pool and BBQ facilities. The main building also features table tennis, table football and playground, plus a common lounge. Guests enjoy a welcome basket including breakfast ingredients for their first day at the property. After that we bought food from the local shop: delicious bread, ham, cheese and olives ….as well as pasta and vino! We didn't go hungry!
From Fattoria di Nerbona, guests can visit the medieval monuments in the Colle Di Val D'Elsa area, including the Conéo Abbey, 7 km away. Volterra and San Gimignano are approximately a 30-minute drive from the property.
Our Car Trips
As I said above, we picked up the rental car at Bologna airport. Ailish was the designated driver for the week and I was the navigator. Every day we took off to explore the small hilltop villages; the highways and byways. Soon we got used to being “on the other side of the road”.
We all agreed that we wanted to see San Gimignano, Siena and Florence. We had each been to Pisa before so decided to give it a miss on this occasion.
San Gimignano is one of the most impressive cities in Tuscany and also known as the “Medieval Manhattan”. As we approached San Gimignano from a distance, we could immediately see why: 15 medieval towers reach up towards the sky, giving the city its strikingly unique appearance.
One of the highlights is the view over San Gimignano from the towers. It was easy to see why the historic centre of San Gimignano is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Siena, located in the heart of Tuscany, is considered one of the most beautiful and charming cities in Italy. Not for nothing is the old town of Siena also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We made our way to the most important square of Siena, Piazza del Campo. This sprawling, shell-shaped space is a popular meeting place for locals and tourists at any time of the day.
From the tower of the Palazzo Pubblico, the Torre del Mangia, you have a magnificent view over Siena. More than 400 steps have to be overcome before you can enjoy the panoramic view over Siena. In addition to incredible history, Siena offers lanes and lanes of shopping and gastronomic paradises so we stopped to have lunch there.
Florence is a “must-see” on any trip through Tuscany not only because it is the capital of Tuscany, but it is also one of the most beautiful I have ever visited. With almost 400,000 inhabitants, Florence is not a huge city, but there’s a lot to do and see here. In the height of summer it can be very touristy with large crowds, especially in the centre….. but as it was September it wasn’t such a problem for us. It’s also a great place to pick up a leather handbag, ladies, even if leather is pricey here.
The historic centre of Florence is unsurprisingly a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The most famous sight in Florence is the Uffizi Gallery – a complex of buildings that has now become one of the most famous art museums in the world. We had been there on previous trips so this time chose to sit outside eating gelati and people watch. However, it is definitely worth a tour inside…but it’s a good idea to get your tickets in advance.
Relaxing by the pool
On our last day, we got to unwind in the sun by the pool back at the Fattoria di Nerbona.
However, all too soon our Tuscan idyll was over. Our midday flight from Bologna on Saturday 14th September 2002 took us back to Dublin in 2 ½ hours. The three of us agreed that Tuscany is well worth a visit!! ARRIVEDERCI, Toscana.....for now.
Bucket List Items Ticked Off in the above Blog 53
Number 57 - Travel - 7 Continents
Other Blog Posts
Blog 11 - Sydney, Australia
Blog 12 - Hong Kong, China
Blog 17 - Beijing, Xi'an & Shanghai, China
Blog 19 - California, USA
Blog 27 - Scotland
Blog 28 - Barbados
Blog 29 - Canada
Blog 30 - Alaska
Blog 31 - Everglades, Florida
Have you ever visited these places? Tell me about your experience in the comments section below.
If you liked this post, please share. Sharing is caring 😊
My name is Mary and this is my bucket list blog ...having survived a near-death experience. I hope it encourages you to "live your best life". See how I'm completing my own bucket list items. And let me know how you're getting on with yours!