Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tuscany: Day 2 (Wednesday, November 25, 2009)

Our second day in Tuscany dawned crisp and clear. We again spent most of the day outside around the house battling brambles on the terraces. We weren't able to walk as far away from the house as we had the day before because of the hunters in the fields nearby. Apparently it was hunting season and the hunters are very active, in fact, we woke up to the sound of shots being fired!

I particularly enjoyed learning about the local plants and wildflowers - something Woodley's mother is quite passionate about. I thought these berries (below) looked very festive and she explained that they are used for making sloe gin. The bush is called blackthorn in English and the berries are called sloes. Apparently sloe gin is traditionally made in autumn in Ireland and Britain. I've never yet had an opportunity to taste it but as I gazed at the big blue berries, I thought that if I was ever in Tuscany again in the fall, I might just be tempted to try making some.

The fall colors were quite lovely even though Woodley's mother assured us that they were not nearly as bright and colorful as they had been just a few weeks before.

Here's a view of the house from the side yard. It was a very interesting and cozy place to stay. Interestingly, it has many little steps up and down and some larger stairways. I don't think I could have drawn a floor plan of it even after studying the problem quite a bit. At the end of our visit we took a tour through the house and counted all the different areas that are separated by steps and discovered that there were 12! I definitely wouldn't want to try navigating it in the dark!

Below, the road leading down to the olive orchard. Sometimes a tractor would rattle by as the farmer busily delivered manure to dump around the base of his olive trees.

A lovely view from the terrace!

Just like the Bay Area, the hills were covered with magnificent oak trees.

In the late afternoon, Woodley and I got tired of working on the yard and retreated to a spot on the steps that wind around the house. From our perches we had an excellent view down through the trees to the hills beyond. While we sat there I started us on the next book in the Chronicles of Narnia - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

It was such a wonderfully relaxing way to finish up the last bit of daylight! As we sat and read we also had a perfect view of the Tuscan sunset!


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