My second stop on the roadtrip was nearby Florence. After a drive through the beautiful hillside on the Autostrada A1 I arrived at the hotel Villa Le Maschere located in a small town in Tuscany.
(Note: Between Bologna and Florence you can choose to drive either the scenic route – which I did on my way to Florence – or the fast route mostly consisting of tunnels – which I took on my way back)
Unfortunately my room had a small window, due to booking category and due to the historic building which only has small windows at the top floor rooms. In the end I didn’t want to upgrade to a higher category, because I was staying at the room only for sleep anyway. Except for the window I had a comfy stay at the hotel and I used the poolside extensively for sunbathing. The view from the pool, breakfast and also dining area is wonderful as you can see the valley through the trees that surround the hotel area (which even has its own park!).
The morning after my arrival I decided to visit Florence, where I stayed only 3 hours in the end, since it was too hot to walk around and the streets where filled with too many tourists and just because I had already seen many of the sightseeings several years ago I could afford to enjoy a few bites here and there of good Italian food and drinking some Italian coffee and leave the city behind. But not without purchasing something. So I acquired maritim-styled Italian handmade and hand-painted plates which my dinner-guests can enjoy as souvenirs on my table. Small souvenirs are always good for memories.
The obligatory shot:
But talking about memories. What I will always remember is my drive to Florence on that day – which was an unforgettable experience: I wanted to drive to Florence as early as possible, since I prefer to experience cities during the morning hours, when people are hustling to work, shop owners open the doors and coffee shops are still in the cleaning process before their first customers arrive. I love the morning vibes of any city, you feel them and although being just an observer, you can learn a lot of a city’s attitude during the morning hours. I also like to breathe in the morning air – it’s fresh with lots of optimism and hope. Have you ever soaked in the dizzy sizzling morning air when the dew is still fresh? Anyway – I’m drifting off from my experience: I started at the hotel after an early breakfast in a good mood was driving along the countryside road to the highway. Then took my toll ticket from the highway toll station (note: Italian highways have a toll system, where you take a ticket when you enter the highway and pay when you leave them) – still in a good mood – then drove the driveway to the highway – still in a good mood – and —boom — it hit me (not literally) – panic – I realised that I forgot my wallet at the hotel safe. So no money, neither coins nor credit cards, with me to pay anything in Florence and even worse nothing to pay my toll at the exit of the highway. Also no passport that I can identify myself. The next exit was about 10km away – the longest 10km drive of my life so far – where I was already seeing me at an Italian police station where I would be in an interrogation of the situation and my identity. So I had bead of sweats on my forehead when I was opening my window at the exit toll station. I tried to explain the situation a bit too fast to the officer there – he interrupted me and said I should repeat slowly and then when he understood my situation he smiled friendly, nodding with compassion, but ensured me in a relaxed way that this could happen and they have a normal procedure for this. So he took note of my license plate and I got a bill with the information that I should transfer the due amount within 15 days. And thats it. So, all my worries were unreasonable. If someone had only told me before. So I’m sharing this with you, in case you will experience similar in the future.
Of course I drove back to the hotel to get my wallet for the visit to Florence- but I drove on the countryside, which is unbelievable beautiful and included a mini-serpentine with an amazing valley-view on the top of the hill.
To end the story of my second stop of the trip – I’m concluding this with the two dinners I had at the hotel – I wanted to eat at the hotel, because I could have a wine with the food (if I had eaten in Florence or else, I would still have had to drive back). The food at the hotel restaurant was excellent. On the one hand yummy local dishes, such as Pasta filled with a potato-cheese mixture topped with ragout bolognese
and on the other hand other Italian classics with a twist: Gnocci made out of purple potatoes.
Only the dessert menu was too innovative for me, no classics were represented. If you have been following my blog, you maybe have noticed already that I am a dessert-conservative. I’m an open minded foodie and even love molecular tongue games, but I don’t like experiments with desserts. Sometimes I have the feeling there are too many patissiers who try too hard where they don’t have to. A dessert menu – in my opinion – must at least offer one of the classics. It is the grand final of the meal, whether lunch or dinner. Even after having experienced an innovative meal, I want to conclude the dinner with a rather simple chocolate cake or tiramisu or panna cotta or flan or cheese cake or creme brûlée or gelato etc.. The list can go on and on and on. Such desserts can be spectacular and unforgettable in taste so that you won’t need any innovation. So, I was a bit disappointed not to find anything I desired for in the dessert menu at the hotel restaurant. Nothing that I would have preferred for the conclusion of an excellent meal. But this, like I said, has to blamed to my personal taste.
But my disappointment was made up for by the very satisfying breakfast, especially the sweet part of it:
With this – I like to take you along to my next stop with my next posting…
P.S.: Further songs from my playlist, also worth listening to:
Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits
Go your own way – Fleetwood Mac
Mr. Blue Sky – Electric Light Orchestra