We spent the first three days of our Italy trip in Rome. It was great and we saw so many cool things, but it was nice to travel out of Rome and slow down the pace. We had scheduled a "Tuscany Region" tour, and I didn't really know where exactly we were going. Our first stop was this small fishing village.
Talamone was used in the filming of James Bond's Quantum of Solace.
Talamone's other claim to fame? To the right of Jared's mouth, just under the water, lies the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that sank last year.
Savannah's goal is to not be photographed with her mouth open while she is wearing braces. I got a couple of pictures of shiny metal, though. But I must get her approval before publicly posting.
The most amazing thing about driving through the Tuscany region is that is looks just like it did in my head. Rolling hills, vineyards, and tall cypress trees.
Our next stop was the town of Siena. We were only there a couple of hours, but next time I would like to stay a couple of days. Siena seems mostly suspended in time, a great medieval town.
We started off with a great lunch. Papa Joe is enjoying being around all his kids at the same time.
I thought this restaurant looked like it came right out of a movie set.
My daughter Amanda, who did most of the trip planning, checks her trusty Rick Steve's guide, to find what we most want to see in Siena in the short time we have.
We did manage a few minutes to take pictures in Il Campo, the best town square in Italy.
I think they were tired of boring poses.
Seth and Amanda
Gelato picture #93. I did not partake, however. I had Riva Reno gelato in Rome and it spoiled me for any other gelato. Best frozen stuff I have ever eaten! And my flavor of choice? Nutella. Duh.
Joe and me in front of the Duomo (or cathedral). It houses statues by Michelangelo and sculptures by Bernini, but we had no time to go inside. We had to choose between more statues or wine.
After we left Siena, we saw a little more sun and enjoyed the beautiful scenery, on our way to a wine-tasting.
This is the winery we visited. This part of Tuscany is famous for Chianti wines. We enjoyed talking to the great-great-granddaughter of the winery's founder.
A peek at the vineyard through the window in the old stables.
Enjoying the good wine
After Siena, our tour of Tuscany ended in Florence. Although we were in Florence for less than 24 hours, we put those hours to full use. We began the next morning with a tour of the highlights of the Heart of Florence. Our tour began at this tower, the oldest building in Florence. I think it was built around the 11th century (I really have to start taking notes of these tour guides' lectures) and used as a woman's prison. Next, we saw Michelangelo's David. Most impressive! But, no pictures allowed.
Amanda and Seth in front of the Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore). There are 463 steps to the top of the dome, for amazing views. We chose to climb the Campinile Tower, with 50 fewer steps and shorter lines.
These are the doors that lead to the Baptistery. Our tour guide was baptized here, but now it is much more difficult to be baptized here. Michelangelo thought these bronze doors were fit to be the gates of paradise. In the squares are different scenes from the Old Testament.
This particular square was a breakthrough in 'modern' art. It was the first time perspective was used to create the illusion of receding distance.
The view from the top of the Camanile. Over 400 steps. I have to say, this was probably the only time in Italy when I was grateful it was not warmer.
There is a LOT of open space underneath Savannah.
Florence's famous bridge-- Ponte Vecchio. This bridge has been lined with gold and silver shops for hundreds of years. Now that is my kind of bridge!
You want to know what Joe is thinking in this picture? He is thinking, "Yes! I got her to walk away from the diamonds."
These pictures were taken from the center of the bridge.
Really, the jewelry stores were like none I have ever seen. This is a fabulous store that sells costume jewelry. I went back to buy a necklace I had admired the day before, but stores in Florence shut down for siesta. Just like Oman!
This concludes your tour of Tuscany. Next stop-- Venice!