Wednesday, June 13, 2012

San Minianato

The librarians at Altopascio had no more success getting us a place at Monteriggioni than Gisella did so it is looking as though we will have to just wing it and hope that San Cristobal (St Christopher) looks after us all.

Last night we had a great meal at the Alimentari Gastronomi in Altopascio (see previous entry entitled The Best Meal Yet). For €7.50 each we had 3 courses of homemade food, wine and water... The very best food I have had since I arrived here, and there really hasn't been a bad meal yet. The most excellent part was an artichoke, hollowed out and stuffed with all kinds of tasty things, then breaded and baked. Divine! Mille Grazie to the proprietor, Rosanna.

Then it was digestifs at a bar, and back home to the sports complex and our rearranged room, now with a clothesline running across it because there was nowhere else to hang the clothes to dry. Several others had arrived, the last being a furry fellow wearing two keys crossed around his neck, who was relegated by the hospitalero to sleep in the hallway.

I didn't sleep a wink. The bed sagged terribly, there was a big fan outside running all night, it was ridiculously hot and I was too stupid to put my earplugs in or take extra blanket off me. Actually, I was ever-so-slightly concerned about the possibility of fleas or bed bugs, given the overall hygiene of the place, and I didn't want to expose any more of myslef,than necessary. When I rose this morning, my back let me know just how unhappy it was for being subjected to a mattress designed to support someone about half my weight,but at least there were no bug bites...

Regardless of my back, the day had arrived and it was time to move on. We were first up and out the door by 0700 in order to get to today's destination, San Miniato, before it was too hot. And what an interesting day it has been...full of surprises.

One of the Many Flags of Tuscany

The first thing I noticed was that the landscape has made a fairly dramatic change; we are in full on Tuscany now! Rolling hills, villas and the signature tall thin decorative pines one sees here. The architecture is a little different too; many square houses with square turret-like tops to the roofs. We walked the main road for a while, and then cut into a trail through scrub-like pine. Gisella was leading the way when a tractor came around the corner, the driver looking intently at a text message from his boss or mother, not paying attention to the woman wildly waving her arms 15 feet in front of him. Fortunately, he saw her in the nick of time and stopped. Then of all things, a horse and jockey in a harness came rolling up behind him. What next?

Arriving in lower San Miniato a couple of hours later, we had a good lunch at a pizzeria run by a nice family, who were anxious to please us, and that they did. Fortunately they served a lot more than just pizza, and by the way, Italians really like their pizza! I see a lot of empty pizza boxes on the recycling...

The Padri Waits for News

After our feed, we made our way for the final two km to San Miniato alto, high up on the hill. We planned to stay at the Convento here, but as we laboured up the final hill I could clearly see smoke coming out of the building and unless the place doubled as a smokehouse, it looked as though the convento might be on fire. And on fire it was.... The poor old Padri sat outside on a bench while the Polizia and Fuegoraros, or whatever Firefighters are called here, ran in and out of the building exchanging Scott Paks, worried glances and wiping sweaty brows. It is a brick building, but the roof is timber and that is very clearly what was on fire. The Fratti (brother) who runs the Convento seemed to think at things would clear up later and that we might still be able to stay, but as I watched the smoke billowing out of the upper windows, it was clear to me the great likelihood was that the building would be condemned.

A bystander at the sfire scene called a bed and breakfast for us and soon we were installed in the unusual and highly decorated abode of Anna, who has a penchant for stenciled walls, victorian clothing, crocheted doilies, angels and scattered rose petals. While I was washing my clothes in her kitchen sink, she happened to mention that another Canadian had stayed there yesterday and showed his business card. It turns out to be a man who works at the (soon to be closed) Agriculture Canada experimental farm in Central Saanich...

Where the other pelligirinis who were planning to stay in the convento will go tonight, I have no idea but at least there a couple of hotels in this pretty place! As I write this three hours later, I can still see and smell the smoke of the fire...

Tomorrow promises to be a long day and we will have to set out very early to get to San Gimmiano, which is 36 km away from here, at a reasonable time and without getting heat exhaustion!

1 comment:

  1. you recall the name of the fellow from the agricultural station; who stayed in the B&B ahead of you? David Lye was asking. He's somewhat puzzled who it might be.

    Enjoying the 'blog chats'. Keep safe and healthy!
    Hugs, Shelley