23 October ’05, Sunday.
It has been a little foggy the last couple of mornings, and fortunately it burned off by early afternoon. This morning turned out to be the same, so as we pulled out of Florence we were optimistic of having a good day. Ann joined me in the front seat, while my navigator Louise sat way in the back. Fortunately for me, we were traveling on the A-1 most of the way, so I wasn’t about to get lost. The only real problem that sat in front of us was finding a campground for the night. While in Florence, we called a couple of campgrounds, and found that they had all ready closed for the season, so that put us in a position of “good luck” in finding something. Our first stop was at the hill town of Montepulciano (mohn-tay-PULL-chee-ah-noh). Small, on top of a hill, isolated, and beautiful…as we pulled up to one of the main gates of this hilltop village, we found a parking spot right away. Finding the “pay station” and locking up, we walked through the gate to something special. Even the first little store that was located right in the brickwork of the gate, was something special. With a totally medieval feel as we walked in, it made us want to explore all the nooks and crannies. The local wines, cheeses, and sausages that they had on display and ready to sell were very tempting. From that point on, it was much of the same as we followed the narrow streets through the village from one end to the other. The architecture of these hilltop villages is somewhat the same as each other, but once you leave the hilltops, the architecture changes. The color of the roof tiles, the bricks, and the rocks that cover the walk/roadways. Some of these tile roofs seem hundreds of years old, and are just as beautiful today as they were way back then. We also found out that there wasn’t any campground around, so we even gave a quick thought to renting a room for a night. Then I said, “Well, it’s only 3:30, so let’s move on to the next village…”. We weren’t too far from Orvieto, so we decided to drive over there to see if we could find something of interest. About 5, we pulled up to Orvieto. Looking at our guide book, we decided to find a small hotel that it had listed. I found a couple of police officers just about ready to get into their car, so finding a moment to ask, they gave me directions to finding this hotel. Now once I have directions, I’m normally pretty good at finding just where I was given directions. Driving their directions, we came to the end of the street, with both roads in front of us telling us “do not enter”. Now what??? Well, turn around and head back to the same parking lot and revisit our directions. “Well, maybe it was this other road they were talking about”… We headed off on this new road only to find ourselves driving down a “main street” with NO OTHER VEHICLES on it. Being a Sunday, it was LOADED with families walking the main street of this hilltop village. I would say this was a weekly affair for everyone. Well, here we are, driving through all these people who were trying very hard to get the heck out of our way and wondering just what the HELL we were doing driving down their promenade… I had to face all these faces that were passing by so very close to my windows all by my self, as the ladies that were sitting so close to me, were now laying on the floor hiding. Finally making it through the “busy” part, I found a place I could pull into. It turned out to be directly in front of the police department, and a “No Parking” location. Well heck, I just had to do it, and I also want the “ladies” to get out and find that hotel !!! I waited with the van about 15 minutes, and when the gals came back, they had mixed news…we could have a room, but the parking was outside the city walls. I made a “command decision”… we were going to head out to the same campground in Rome as we had been the week before, I had had enough for this day… We made it to Rome by 9, so that wasn’t too bad….tomorrow…we’ll be back !!!