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Italy, Day 17

(Spoiler Alert! You might want to start with Day 1 to follow this trip from the start!)

That morning, against all odds, we were already packed. After showering, Zan snapped a few quick photos of our room for posterity's sake and then we dragged ourselves to the restaurant for a final breakfast.

We were lucky enough to squeeze in one last conversation with Bryan and Elaine who agreed to an impromptu photo session in the adjoining courtyard. After saying goodbye, we grabbed our bags and got our bill squared away with John at the front desk. Zan took the opportunity to take a few shots of him as well in the hallway area of the lobby.

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While we waited for our taxi to arrive, we had time to mope along the village streets and look out over the wall to take in the spectacular view one last time. It was a balmy, sun-filled morning and crews were busy installing thousands of flowers for Pienza's annual Spring flower festival. We would miss the display by a few days but, really, could we legitimately complain about anything at this point?

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Our ride through the Tuscan hillside was dreamy and we arrived in Chiusi just in time to grab some gourmet bus station pizza — no kidding, photo evidence provided below — enjoy the weather and board the train.

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We arrived at our stop midday to a much larger station than any we had used prior to this. Like a dramatic Lifetime movie, this should have been obvious foreshadowing for our stay in Rome.

Rome, and everything about it, was Italy on steroids. Our third "big city" of the trip, all of it was supersized — the sites and sounds and speed. Zan made the remark that it was like someone took thousands of years of architectural details, shook them all up and then rolled them all out over Rome like ancient dice. Yeah, I'd say that is about as good an analogy as any I could come up with.

We took the taxi as instructed by our hosts and were dropped off "in front" of the apartment. Well, sort of. After a bit of trouble finding our spot (thanks for nothing inaccurate airbnb map!), we met the manager (I made that title up as I'm still not totally sure how she was related to our hosts), Christina, who let us into the building and politely showed us around.

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Still a bit discombobulated from getting lost, we decided to play it safe and have dinner at a restaurant "suggested" via a stack of business cards left by the owner. We walked down the Corso to a restaurant called Gusto where we ate our meal al fresco. The restaurant appeared to be a chain, sort of an Italian Dean & Deluca, but the meal was solid and slightly more affordable than we expected.

After dinner we journeyed back through the throngs of tourists to our (still love you airbnb) centrally located, 500 year old apartment. The courtyard was really magnificent at night, perched casually in the heart of the city.

Rome was our last stop in this three week adventure the gravity of this was beginning to weigh on us. We were approaching the end of our trip, fully prepared to miss Pienza, but not prepared enough for Rome. The city was a huge departure for us on every level and it was going to take some time to sync up. Fortunately for us, we had five days here and nothing but time...