After spending two lovely days in Verona I was a believer that Romeo and Juliet did live there as the sweetness of the atmosphere of the city was a powerful reality. So, we set off for a farm house, part of which was built in the 12th century, in the hills above Montecatini Terme and located in Borgo A Buggiano.
The road leading to Bed and Breakfast was extremely narrow and winding. We all marveled at Jeff’s expertise in negotiating this, what seemed to be treacherous path, with ease and abandon. When we arrived we were greeted by the owner Francesca. We soon became accustomed to Francesca’s vibrant personality. While we were there she fixed both breakfasts and dinners, doctored sick kittens, and midwifed baby chicks. After what seemed like some very long days I could hear her and her son traveling among the various animal pens, one housing a very angry goose, after midnight. The house was magnificent with its’ aged architecture.
Our first night Francesca invited us to a festival being held in Montecatini Terme. She not only accompanied us but rode with us and drove the car. When we arrived we were joined by her husband Leonardo who manages a hotel in Montecatini Terme. What an enjoyable time eating sausage and ribs and drinking a large glass of delicious red wine which only cost three euros. At the conclusion of our meal Francesca asked if we wanted an Italian pastry and coffee. She and Leonardo insisted on buying them for us. As Leonardo was setting at one end of the table and I at the opposite end I gestured my appreciation to him and he responded as if we had known each other for some time. I was reminded of many of the happy scenes I had watched on television and in movies of Italians gesturing and enjoying each others company. Montecatini Terme Festival
The next morning after a lovely Tuscan breakfast we set off Luca but on the way found Collodi. You may recall that the author Carlo Collodi penned the old children’s favorite Pinocchio. The authors’ actual name was Lorenzini while he adopted the name of the town as his pen name. Lorenzini was better known as a political writer during the earlier days of his career. Collodi is a picturesque town with reminders of its’ most famous puppet everywhere. Collodi
I neglected to mention the primary reason we stayed close to Montecatini Terme was because of the outstanding Spa located in the town. Margo and Jeff had regaled us with stories of the wonderful relaxing effects that were inherent in a day spent at the Spa. Now I probably should say at this point that I have never been to a Spa. Prior to Montecatini I had never had a massage or been to a chiropractor. So the first thing we did at our arrival and after lunch was to go to the Spa to sign up for our massages. Jeff and Margo, being veterans, knew what they wanted and endeavored to explain to me what I could expect. Jeff counseled me that I would need a pair of trunks to wear during the massage…and I thought this will be all right.
Saturday was Spa day. First I accompanied our friends to an inhalation treatment which consisted of putting a cup over your mouth and nose and breathing in the healing vapors of the Montecatini mineral water. At the completion of the treatment I thought I was perhaps breathing a little better. Success! Then we had lunch and it was back early for Jeff and I for a swim in a wonderful heated pool and some great whirlpools that I found throughly enjoyable. Then the sauna…I had forgotten how hot saunas are. But having been in a sauna before I was not surprised. Again, a nice relaxing experience. Then a short wait in a pleasant setting, relaxed, refreshed, and ready for a nice first time massage…that I vaguely recalled may have derived from India and involved oil.
As the lady who was going to perform the massage led me to the massage room I asked her how she was doing to which she replied that I was probably doing better than her. When we entered the room she instructed me rather sternly that I could not wear the swimming trunks, that I felt extremely comfortable with, and then said that I must wear bikini. When I protested that my friend, who had been at the Spa numerous times, assured me that I could wear my trunks she shook her head no and again said bikini. After the change I reflected how I had arrived at this extremely embarrassing moment. When my masseuse returned she had me set in front of a full length mirror and told me to relax…which I could not think of any possible circumstance that could be more relaxing… and I noticed my resemblance to Buddah …and then she had me shut my eyes and proceeded to pour oil on my head. After the ritual had concluded Jeff told me that what I received was not the massages he was accustomed to and that I should try one in the states where I could keep my trunks on.
The town of Pisa is an interesting place. It is located at the mouth of the River Arno which is on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Of course our quest was for the Tower. The Leaning Tower is the bell tower of the cities’ cathedral. As we walked and walked each time we stopped to assure ourselves of the correct path the reply would be “the tower” to which we would shake our heads and proceed. When we arrived I was amazed to see how much the tower does lean. People were touring it and you could see them waking around close to the top of the structure…at a terrible slant.
We traveled to Lucca. The uniqueness of this city was its’ intact Renaissance city walls. We walked on the walls which had quite a wide walking and biking area.
The supreme beauty of Tuscany cannot be over emphasized. As we drove up the steep winding trails to the Tuscan Mountain town of Montecatini Alto the view was like none that I have seen. This artist was along the road leading back to our car.
On Sunday morning at our mountain retreat we chose to simply enjoy the surroundings for the morning. The majesty of the mountainous landscape coupled with the peaceful atmosphere was a welcome respite from our busy holiday.