Thursday, May 5, 2011


While living in Germany, we took several trips around Europe. Our favorite, at least my favorite, was Italy. We went to Venice for the first Thanksgiving, and in March went to Tuscany for a week. A friend from the states came over for the trip, and through contacts of hers we were able to rent a house in Montefioralle, a hilltop 'castle village', overlooking Greve in Chianti.

Montefioralle was first noted in documents around 1050, and was a military and administrative center for the local governing family. It had, and has, a wall around the town, with houses built into the wall.

It has a 'street', generally too small for cars of any size, going around inside the town. I would guess the population is around 500, and when we were there no tourist housing was present. We were fortunate to have our friend, L., along, who had a friend that had family that owned a house. Also, she speaks Italian, a big plus, it wouldn't have been the same trip without her.

Our place was the first door on the left side, two stories, a worn stone staircase going up to the second floor, where we lived. My understanding is the second floor had been constructed in the mid 1700's, and electricity brought in perhaps in the '60's....wires coming through the windows and walls. The bathroom was about 5x4', sink and toilet, and the 'shower' was a faucet head in the middle, near the window. One had to take everything out of the bathroom to shower, and the hot water would last maybe 3 minutes. There were two 'water heaters', one in the bathroom and one in the kitchen. You had to be careful about using too many electrical things or a fuse would go. A couple doors down the street was the birthplace of Amerigo Vespucci, marked only by a wasp engraving over the door.
The view from the kitchen

The hills of Chianti from the terrace outside the kitchen, opposite side from the previous picture

The same street on the other side of the village

The land around the village was agricultural, with lots of olive trees. Down the hill in Greve, you could get olive oil in a couple shops from a big vat, you bring your own container. If you've never had good olive oil, it's delicious. One can actually sip it like wine, it's that good.

Olive orchard just outside the village

In the week we were there we took day trips, to Sienna, where the famed exercise in treachery, bribes and anarchy, the Palio, occurs every Summer. It's a horserace between districts of the city.

We also went to San Gimignano, the city of towers

We also too trips to Rome, Pisa and Florence, I'll post pictures of that another time.


  1. I love old cobbled street like that. So beautiful.

  2. How charming. I've always wanted to rent a house in Italy for a few months and traverse the narrow streets every day.

  3. Hope you got to see Galileo's (middle) finger at the museum in Florence!

  4. Thanks for a nice read ! When I was still living in Europe, I didn't realize there is so much to see and that it's all so close. I had the worst case of wanderlust...