Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Europe, the last days



Our trip in Europe was being conducted under the Schengen Convention, the convention that allows us to spend 90 days in Europe out of 180 without the need for visas, and we were in our last week and a bit. With our time in Europe coming near an end we had enough time left for one more place. A teacher friend from Perth made the offer to visit her in Carpinelli in the Tuscany region of Italy so we thought we would finish up there. It took two days to get there so we did an overnight stay in Genova. This area of Tuscany was so remote that not a single person in the hotel we stayed in spoke any English, this was definitely off the normal tourist track. So Gabbi, my friend, booked into the same hotel to translate for us, even though she had family in the area, and also got us mates rates.


This was definitely the wind-down portion of our trip, not much to do but soak your feet in the pool while overlooking the mountains surrounded by bush. Virtually everything was done for you in this tiny family run hotel (Hotel Prosperi). Breakfast was included and lunch and dinner were available by just asking for them. The chef (Nonna) would come out and tell you what was on offer for each meal and then cook it to your requirements. First day there we walked down to a local park to watch a play re-enacting a period of ancient history, something that apparently happens quite regularly.


The view from the tower

We also took the train one day to Lucca, a nearby medieval city fortified by a surrounding wall that is still standing today. We climbed up the Guinigi Tower, which has a hanging garden on the roof (from the ground it looks like the building has hair), for fantastic panoramic views of the city and its old buildings and the surrounding mountains.



















One piece of drama that occurred was that we were smack bang in the heat wave that was gripping southern Europe at the time and wildfires were being reported in the news all over the place. Well, we had one of our own one afternoon that was beginning to concern me (I was in the pool at the time) right before a helicopter came flying over the fire area. For more than two hours this solitary helicopter went back and forth filling up his bucket with water and dumping it on the fire. On his own he put the whole fire out and I was pretty impressed at the difference a little helicopter and a tiny bucket could make on what looked like a fairly big fire.


With three days to go we started the long trip out of Europe, it was at least two days by train and ended up being more difficult than we expected...