So - before leaving New York, we bought a GPS to navigate these parts. Forthwith, the European software needed to be uploaded sometime between NY and leaving on the road. This process - a proprietary one - requires several parts that no one really wants to look for while running around Rome. After a couple of days of meandering about the Garmin website - it was pretty darn clear that they didn't want us downloading any maps that we could otherwise give to a pal. We had to load directly to the machine through a downloadable software interface...blah blah blah. Long story short - with about 12 hours to spare, we both looked through our bags of things and found the right USB connect to the Garmin and downloaded the software - oh wait - there wasn't enough memory on the machine to hold the Europe maps. We looked again and found a 4gig card, still in the box, that fit the Garmin. Great - and so we went to bed to await the 6 hour download. And so when Paula went to bed, she naturally turned off the lights, which turned off the plugs, which turned off the computer........needless to say, by morning everything was dead, including the Garmin. Strangely - when we plugged it all in, everything worked including European Maps. Learning Italian from a Garmin pronouncing street names is the wrong way to learn.
Getting out of town was a snap and before we knew it, we were in Tuscany driving around on small one lane roads. We rented a shinny black Turbo Diesel BMW for the NAPD tactical driver (me) to wield around the hills. Spinning up the turbo in third makes the best sound....
We are near Florence as far as cities goes. The hills here are mostly forested with carved vineyards and wineries everywhere. So too are there a plentiful variety of bed and breakfast places and "Agrotourismo" living arrangements at working farms, vineyards or olive oil orchards.
As far as our movement around the land, nothing has gone awry. The purpose for our visit I can say this is not the case - with obstacle after obstacle falling in place to impede our smooth sailing. Italy is a hard place to do business. Like in Chicago and perhaps Brooklyn. Nuff said on that.
We are staying at a vineyard, orchard, spa place on the top of one of the tallest mountains around. We can see for miles and miles in nearly every direction. The pool is 90 feet long. Right now, there is a band playing on the neighboring mountain - after all, it is saturday night - so loud that even Rich Mizanin would write a ticket.
We return to Rome on Monday for business - and then head East to Croatia.
Tonight I raced a small road to the two horse town of Piazza. There is a really cool little restaurant there where we stopped for dinner. As we walked in, there was a huge basket of every strange mushroom and/or fungi you've ever seen - picked from the nearby forest. Things on the menu included "Filet of Stag", Rabbit, Pheasant, wild mushrooms - wild boar - and of course, cool homemade pasta. I had Stewed Wild Boar for dinner - and it was great.
Paula is catching a cold. This means it is likely that I will be sick in a few days.
What is the very coolest of all is that Tall Andy Grimmer - my former student at Texas State, former Roommate at the house, whose wedding I photographed in Kyle just happened to be in Rome staying right across town with his wife and another couple. We didn't get together for breakfast as we'd planned - but we both said "Holy Crap" at discovering we were a World apart but not.