Villa Scacciapensieri, Siena
Mom and Dad bought a fluorescent orange second-hand Fiat* with red seats, which took us to a tiny mountain village, Monterrigioni. Siena is about 800 meters above sea level, and the countryside is very hilly, so the roads are like corkscrews and it takes a long time to go a short distance.
Dad had always wanted to visit Monterrigioni, and since it was his 53rd birthday, it seemed like a good time to go, camera in hand. We bought some lovely wine there for less than $2 a bottle. I’m beginning to understand lire – you knock off the last three zeroes for a pessimistic estimate (i.e., 10,000 lire is approximately $10, but more like $7).
We then visited another little mountain village, Montalcino, where the last battle against Florence was fought. There are still some remains of the fortress, and Megan convinced us to climb the towers, which had spectacular views. [She always wanted to go to the top of everything then: St Paul’s in London, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, etc. I’m glad she made me climb the Leaning Tower, since you aren’t allowed to anymore.]
We had a special cake for Dad’s birthday, orange with pine nuts. Then we gave Dad our gifts. They were still a little gluey – we didn’t have any tape, so I glued the wrapping paper together [not one of my better ideas]. The gifts were small, since I had brought them with me to Italy: special tea from Crabtree & Evelyn, licorice allsorts [which are so gross, but he loved them], and a lovely book on Newfoundland [where Dad worked at the lab in the summer]. He was very pleased, and it was a good day.
Tomorrow we are to register with the police, so they know we aren’t terrorists.
*I seem to remember that it cost about $500 and we sold it for almost the same price when we left Italy a few months later. Much better than renting a car!