Elizabeth (Morgan) Marshall in England and Italy - Spring 2008
I left on the 30th of April and didn't get back until the 18th of May. I spent the first 10 days in England, spending time with relatives, especially my godmother who is 90 this year. I drove with Dad to Cornwall where his family come from and we visited lovely fishing villages and great old pubs. I spent one day at the famous Eden Project, which is a series of geodesic domes built in a reclaimed clay quarry. The domes house plants and trees from other climates and are completely self-sustaining. The biggest one is a tropical rain forest. It's an amazing place.
It was good traveling with my Dad, he's a congenial companion, a great storyteller, always buys the drinks, and drives those narrow, twisting Cornish roads without fear - and without a map, which meant we got lost a lot!
We left on May 10th for Italy. Along with Dad and myself, there were my aunt and uncle and my sister, Veronica, and her husband. We stayed in a town call Chianciano in the south-east corner of Tuscany in the Chianti region. The trip was a NATO reunion that my Dad goes to each year in a different country, and we'd invited ourselves along to it!
Tuscany is so beautiful! The countryside is like the sea with undulating waves of green and yellow fields and islands of hilltops, some with farms, some with small towns and villages perched on top - and always mountains in the distance. There are cypresses everywhere, in orderly rows or grouped in pockets and bright red poppies grow in huge swathes across the fields. And the colours of the buildings are so warm - gold, ochre, deep rose, all with tiled roofs.
We went to Florence, Sienna, San Gimignano, Assisi, Perugia, and Montepulciano. It was quite an experience. But next time we go it will have to be in November when the tourists are gone, because they were packed with people (us included!). The buildings and streets are amazing though; old, narrow streets that would suddenly open into a huge square with a remarkable church or museum in it. Fountains and statues are everywhere. We walked beside the river Arno in Florence, bought silk scarves on the Ponte Vechio, had lunch on the Campo in Sienna where they have horse races twice a year around the square (a tradition going back to medieval times), drank the "vino noble" of Montepulchiano, and looked at views every day that took our breath away.
We all suffered from exhaustion and sore feet, ankles, knees and hips as there wasn't a straight road anywhere, everything was on a hill! You were either going up or going down, but the good thing was the number of outdoor cafes and bars that you could stop at on the way and restore yourself for the next climb! We ate pasta, drank a lot of good local red wine and finished it off with the best gelato ever.
I'd go back in a heartbeat!