Day 9 - Ferry across the Adriatic to Chianti Classico area of Tuscany
On day 9 of this epic road trip, we awoke with views of Italy again. I would like to say awoke from a good night's sleep... but that would be a bit of a stretch. We had spent the voyage across the Adriatic (read about Croatia in part 4 here) in our extremely warm, dark cabin on the ferry sleeping in bunk beds (remember this was a second honeymoon! 😉 ). It wasn't our best room on this trip, but it was all part of the adventure! Since our car was along for the ride... technically I think it was still a road trip! 😉 I'm so surprised how easy the entire process of boarding and disembarking the ferry was with the car! After claiming our car and driving off the ferry we had two things on our mind... Stefan needs coffee and I need food in the mornings! After leaving the port city of Ancona we stopped in a small village's coffee shop. While enjoying our pastries, we noticed all the locals staring at us with such curiosity!
After fueling up on pastries and caffeine, we decided to drive toward Siena and through Tuscany. Since we were avoiding cities on this trip, we stuck to small roads in the countryside. Being peak summer tourist season, I was surprised that the roads weren't busy at all! What gorgeous views of sunflower fields, vineyards and rolling hills!
To stretch our legs we stopped in Montepulciano (say that out loud, no really - what a fun word to say!) for lunch and some shopping. My tour guide husband taught me that Monte is mountain... this village sits on a high hill with a very pretty view of the surrounding area. I recommend a visit to Montepulciano as it has wonderful restaurants, lots of nice leather shopping and a wine lover's paradise! I loved walking the old streets and eating our fresh local lunch outside!
After leaving Montepulciano (I had to write it one more time!), we drove toward Siena but decided to bypass it and look for a small hotel to stay in the countryside. Since we didn't have reservations on this trip (again, as your travel advisor I don't recommend this!), it took a couple tries to find a place since everything was sold out! We stopped at a small inn called Villa Sant' Uberto Countryside Inn and lucked out with a room, as they had just had a last minute cancellation. What a spectacular setting in the Chianti area of Tuscany! After the ferry cabin, it was the perfect spot for a much needed night of better sleep! Read my full review of this wonderful villa here. We spent the rest of the day and evening outside at the villa... enjoying drinks and small dinner on the terrace. I said it every day of this trip... what views!
Day 10 - Tuscany to Diano Marina, Italy
Day ten started with saying goodbye to Chianti and heading toward the Italian Riviera. We tried to stay off highways on this trip, but sometimes it was necessary. Passing Florence and driving toward the Italian Riviera we encountered heavy traffic (all of Europe is on the move in July!), a downpour and many tunnels. We waved to the Cinque Terre as we drove by (next time!) and happened to pass by the large port city of Genova the same day the Costa Concordia was being towed there (the cruise ship that sunk)! After departing the highway we drove along the Italian Riviera and soaked up views of the Mediterranean. The Italian Riveria was also very busy, but we managed to find a hotel room in the town of Diano Marina. It felt like luxury with in room wi-fi and phone chargers! This is a beautiful area, but the beaches are small, crowded with chairs, umbrellas and most are private or for members.
What a terrific evening... drinking mojitos (love all the snacks the Italians serve with drinks!), dining outside and people watching! Being a night owl myself, I love the Italian culture of shopping, dining out and socializing later in the evening. During dinner we were entertained by our young Italian waitress who was so excited to practice her English! She had tons of questions about the US for me, as she was so anxious to visit there some day (like many Americans having dreams of Italy:) )! I never did get up the nerve to ask one of the Italian men what they carry in those large man purses that are popular there! I didn't think that would endear me to the locals. 😉 Maybe it will catch on here... so the guys can carry our stuff! 😉
Until the next adventure - bon voyage!