We left Castello di Fulignano promptly at 9:00 after Mike made us a breakfast of scrambled eggs with spinach and cheese, peach juice and espresso. We packed all our bags, Mike cleaned up the kitchen and trash, and we handed over the keys to Giovanni’s father.
It was chilly and rainy, sadly, and rain was forecast in the area for most of the day. Today was supposed to be the day of the most beautiful scenic drive and many small hill towns, so we were disappointed by the forecast.
We headed toward Poggibonsi, past the vineyard with the pretty line of cypress trees and into the industrial town over potholed and unpaved roads. We would miss this area.
A cold front was moving in, and a downpour followed us on our journey. Temps would be in the mid-50s today and lower the next day. This was not quite the Tuscan vacation I had envisioned.
We took some wrong turns around Siena, be we finally found our way to S438 after stopping for a train in Taverne d’Arbia.
Our first stop was Asciano, which has origins as Etruscan, Roman and Lombard settlements. During the medieval period its location made it a site of contest between Siena and Florence. The village was purchased by the Sienese in 1285 and surrounded by walls in 1351.
In Asciano, we ran into a Fiat 500 Club Italia gathering, with a whole slew of colorful and quirky Fiat 500s. They were going out together for a Sunday drive in the Tuscan countryside.
We walked around the parking area, admiring the adorable little cars and taking pictures.
We drove further uphill to the town to look for a cafe. After we parked, suddenly a whole line of the Fiats drove speedily into the town with horns sporadically honking and playing musical ditties. It was adorable. Mike and I stood on the corners and took photos as they whizzed past. I love those tiny vintage cars. I was happy then to have bought the black and white photos of the Fiats in the Tuscan countryside while we were in San Gimignano.
We wandered into the town to check it out. We were greeted by the 11th century Romanesque basilica of Sant’Agata, built of travertine. The church, with its aisleless nave topped by a truss roof, is adorned with decorative elements of the Lombard type. Outside is its 13th century campanile.
We stopped at a cafe and I had an orange juice and a chocolate pastry. Mike had coffee and salami on toast.
We strolled briefly through the cute town.
After Asciano, we drove 10km south to Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore, the large Benedictine monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, mother-house of the Olivetans, founded in 1320. It was rainy and cold and a long walk. As we walked toward it, a lady told us it was closed until 3:00. As it was before noon, we decided we’d have to skip it and keep going on down the road.
*Sunday, May 5, 2019*