May - June 2017
  • Day7

    Sightseeing in Pisa part 2

    June 5, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Next on the list was the Camposanto. It's the burial ground for important Pisans and has been in use from Crusader times. It's a large grass rectangle surrounded by arcades in stone. People are buried in the floors, walls and re-used Roman and Etruscan sarcophagi and there are the remains of medieval frescos on the walls. It is a lovely space and fascinating. Last of the monuments was the Duomo - the cathedral - from the 12-13c. It was a bit disappointing as there is a lot of restoration going on and the main mosaic was hidden by a platform and some areas are cordoned off. Also the columns are plain dark granite and the paintings dark and not particularly special. The facade though is lovely and the wooden ceiling is covered in gold leaf, courtesy of the Medicis.Read more

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  • Day7

    Sight seeing in Pisa part 1

    June 5, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Having just wandered around yesterday, today we embarked on serious sightseeing but first we went to a daily food market in one of the piazzas which made us wish we had self catering facilities and time to buy and cook some. We then went to the University of Pisa's small Egyptian museum which has a small but lovely collection of items, many from Sudan. After these diversions we went to the Piazza dei Miracoli which houses the main sites - the Duomo, the leaning tower, the Baptistry and the Camposanto. We had decided not to go up the tower as its a 35 min timed ticket and a rush up and down - and it costs 17 euros. All these monuments are in a corner of the Medieval walls which encircle most of the city.
    We started at the Baptistry - a circular building with two domes on top. It's pleasant but not as spectacular as the one in Florence as there are no frescoes inside - they ran out of money. You get a nice photo of the front of the Duomo from a window in the Baptistery.
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  • Day6

    Travel to Pisa

    June 4, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We left Siena by train this morning and went to Pisa, with just one change on the way. The second train was very crowded as it was the fast express from Florence to Livorno, but we managed to get seats. This afternoon we just wandered around Pisa getting our bearings, finding the leaning tower, cathedral and the main streets, and having icecream! Every where we go here there seems to be a fantastic selection of flavours of icecream, today's special flavour was Tuscany beer, but I avoided that and went for strawberry cheese. Yum!Read more

  • Day4

    Wine tastings

    June 2, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    After a morning relaxing in the garden and pool we went to visit a couple of nearby vineyards, one just down the road and one a little further but with a fine castle. This is Chianti country and I've been surprised and delighted with the quality of wines here. Even the house wines by the jug in the restaurants have been really good. I guess in my mind I think of Chianti as the cheap stuff we used to get in England in straw covered bottles, but I've been really impressed with the quality of these wines.
    In the evening we went to a restaurant that is Michelin star quality in Radda in Chianti and had a wonderful meal. This is very much on the tourist circuit and all the diners were non-Italian.
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  • Day3

    A day out in Siena

    June 1, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Today we went into Siena and had a look around. It's not a big city but the centre is beautiful with lots of medieval buildings and winding streets. The centre square is actually semicircular and strangely dished down towards the old town hall which is now a fine museum. The rooms in the museum are totally covered with frescos dating to the 1400's, and there is a chapel where the choir stalls are each decorated with inlaid marquetry scenes, which appear original. This square is where the famous horse race - the Palio - takes place , but I can't imagine how they do it with the centre packed by crowds for hours. On to the cathedral which is very ornate but magnificent, with amazing scenes imbedded in the floor in coloured marble, and some Michaelangelo statues. We had a late lunch in a small bar/restaurant known to Jacqui and Rob, and stopped afterwards for obligatory icecream.Read more

    Tim Lynette Wilkins

    Marquetry in the choir stalls in the Palazzo chapel

    Tim Lynette Wilkins


    Tim Lynette Wilkins

    Frescos in the library attached to the Duomo

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  • Day2

    Relaxing day

    May 31, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

    After breakfast on the loggia with distant views of Siena, we had a lazy day around the pool, swimming and inspecting Jacqui & Rob's 1.2 acres. Part is a small oak wood but most is filled with olive trees and cherry, apple, pear, apricot and peach trees. They have small vegetable patches. We are eating the cherries with every meal and they are lovely. They crop about 300kg of olives each year and take them to the village olive press to make their own olive oil which is delicious - hoping to bring some back with us.Late afternoon we went on a drive northwards to some pretty towns that are on the Chianti tourist trail and again had some yummy ice cream. Most of the land around here is planted with vines and there are many places offering Chianti tastings. We plan to go to one later in the week.This evening we went to the nearest village - 10 minutes drive- for a really good pizza dinner.Read more

    Tim Lynette Wilkins

    Long-lens view of Siena from the terrace


    Castellini di Chianti

  • Day1

    Arrival in Perugia

    May 30, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

    We flew from Stansted to Perugia where Jacqui & Rob were waiting for us. They suggested a visit to Assisi, which is nearby before going to their villa near Siena. Assisi is a nice hilltop town , typical of the region, with a main square where we had a very good lunch, and we went to see the rather peculiar double cathedral of St Francis. There are two churches, one on top of the other. Both are covered with murals dating back to 1317, and downstairs is a crypt rather plainer, with the tomb of St Francis. On the way from Assisi to Siena we stopped at a lakeside and had some really good icecream! Their house is a three-story villa on a hillside with views of Siena in the distance, and surrounded with a parcel of land growing trees such as olives, cherries, apples, pears, figs and plums.Read more