Saturday, October 2, 2004
Bummer, time to check out of our cute little apartment. We’ll sure miss it, and the cute black doggy (we never did find him treats but we gave him all of the salami and prosciutto we had leftover), and Verona. We had seen so many cute towns on our drives to other places (like Soave and Desenzano di Garda) that we didn’t get a chance to see. Laura and Giorgio came to check us out and we were off. Once on the Autostrada Charlotte promptly fell asleep while Genevieve chatted away. We stopped for lunch at the Autogrill, these rest stop/gas station/ restaurant things they have along the freeway. They are so cool. You can get the food either to go (panini and such) or sit and eat their very good cafeteria food. It’s nice to stop at a restaurant literally right off of the freeway and have a good healthy meal quickly. Every Autogrill has a mini-mart thing and these are really upscale. Lots of gift-basket stuff and high-end food in addition to toys, magazines and toiletries. We left the Autogrill (remembering to bring change to the bathroom for the attendant, I am really getting the hang of this Italy thing) and got back on the road. Unfortunately, when I had printed the directions to the Agriturismo the printer had chopped off about one inch on the right and I didn’t notice until right then. So we got very lost and wound up asking for directions at a Dico which is like a Smart and Final and doesn’t get many tourists. Those directions led us up into the hills where I used a payphone to call San Giorgio for help. The guy who answered didn’t speak much English but as best I could tell we were on the right track. Soon we came to the town of Santa Luce but it turns out that the Agriturismo is in the Italian equivalent of the county of Santa Luce so that didn’t help much. An old Italian man helped Mark out with much hand waving and about ten minutes later we found the place. Oh my gosh. Remote, yes. The countryside in Tuscany is not at allwhat I expected. Rolling hills as far as the eye can see of dirt clods. Everywhere we looked, dirt clods. I was picturing something like Napa and instead we got this–we left our cute little apartment and the beauty of Northern Italy for this. The groundskeeper met us and showed us to our room. Uh oh, no go. The place was really nice, flooded with natural light and well appointed, but the stone staircase leading up to it was inside the apartment–no doorway to close to keep the kids out. We told him it wasn’t going to work and pointed at the kids as our explanation and he was very confused but showed us another room that hadn’t been cleaned yet but was clean enough for us and so we took that instead. As it was on the ground floor it was much darker but not having to worry about broken necks was worth it. And I had another rude surprise–at Agriturismi they don’t make up the beds before your arrival. So I (and I do mean I, as a woman they just assumed….) got handed bundles of flat sheets to make up the beds with. Ick. I’m tired, I’ve been on the road all day, I’m sour ’cause we’re in the middle of nowhere with dirt everywhere, I’ve got to make dinner ’cause the kids are hungry, I’ve got to do laundry ’cause we have no clean clothes, I have to unpack and now I have to make beds too?! Needless to say, this was not the highlight of my vacation. It only got worse–as I started to settle in I realized the place was stripped–no dish detergent, no salt, no coffee filters, only a scrap of TP on the roll. I’ve rented places in San Diego, Tahoe, and Verona and never have I seen a place so devoid of anything. When people rent a place they leave stuff behind like sugar and salt when they don’t use it all. The only way an apartment can get in that totally empty state is if someone is taking everything out when the guests leave. To make matters worse, the next day is Sunday and stores are closed so I’m going to have to do without (without coffee and we’re in the middle of nowhere!) until Monday. Mark took the kids swimming in the pool even though it was really too cold, and then kindly offered to go in search of the grocery store that was conveniently located twenty minutes away in Rosignano Solvay. Meanwhile, I sucked it up, got the beds made, kids fed and bathed (in a shower not a bathtub which did not make them happy) and put to bed and the laundry started (a smaller washing machine you can not imagine, my two loads turned into four). Mark returned, after driving around in the pitch black on hilly roads he was unable to even find Rosignano Solvay although he did locate Rosignano Marritimo, but there’s no grocery store there. After all this, we went to have some wine because at least they were kind enough to leave us a bottle, and what do you know? No wine opener….