Day 252 Marcialla, Tuscany to Livorno, Italy.

Last night on our campsite, the sound of chatter went on into the early hours – clearly the effects of the wine tasting party. Howard and I had scuttled off just after eleven, but I could hear the group up at the bar until well past midnight, laughing and enjoying the wonderful wine on offer.

This morning, it was as if the campsite had transformed. Howard and I got up, and made our way to the washrooms for our first pee of the morning, and everyone, yes everyone, said hello to us. Even people who we did not recognise from the wine tasting, smiled and said hello. It was as if news had spread around the campsite – ‘Those are the couple in that tiny blue California, who have been travelling around Europe for a year’. Certainly, the Germans and Dutch people sat on our table last night were bemused that we could attempt such a trip in such a small vehicle. They, of course, all owned ****-off ‘Big Whites’, but even so, were amazingly sociable towards us. They were just slightly amused at our endeavour, and kept asking how we had survived together in such a small space.

I returned from the bathroom before Howard. He then appeared, grabbed his toolkit out from under the driver’s seat, and muttered, ‘Don’t put this on the blog’. Of course, I was immediately intrigued! Then, as I sat drinking my tea, I could hear women’s laughter and jabber, and then I picked up Howard’s voice amongst all the din. About ten minutes later he returned, with a slightly self-satisfied look on his face. It turned out, that one of the ladies had got locked in one of the toilet cubicles. The lock had broken, and she had been shouting for help. As Howard left the adjacent men’s block, he had been grabbed by one of the women to come and help. So, like Superman, he had swept in with his toolkit, and removed the lock from there door. The maintenance man fro the campsite had then appeared, and they duly released the lady from the toilet.

When Howard returned to Oscar, I asked what on earth had been going on. ‘Oh!’, replied Howard, ‘All these women with just towels wrapped around them, were begging me to help!’ Of course, I completely fell about laughing at his antics.

As we sat eating breakfast outside the van, more and more people passed, and smiled wryly, and said ‘Good morning’. We started to feel like we were the butt of some joke. What were they all smirking at? Had we been so badly behaved last night at the wine tasting, that we had said something to amuse them all? We will never know. But certainly, we have never had so many people greet us on a campsite before. Very odd!

We packed up Oscar, and went up to the reception to pay. Inside the office was the maintenance man. ‘Ah! Il liberatore!’, he announced to the receptionist (the liberator). Once more, Howard was lauded in yet more praise. He drove away from the campsite with a slightly over-inflated ego, having been labelled the man responsible for the ‘liberation’ of the poor woman!

Back down to earth, we discussed where we should go today. Ultimately, we knew we were to head for the western coast, in order to catch our ferry to Corsica in the morning. It was a toss of a coin between Florence and Siena. We have been to both in the past, but spent more time in Florence, so opted for Siena.

It was only a short drive from our campsite, but it took us just as long to find a parking space. We ended up a fair way from the centre, so had a briskest walk before we reached the Old Town walls. In my memory, I had remembered Siena’s wonderful Campo, the sloping circular main square, as a huge empty space, spiralling down to the State buildings. The last time we had visited, I had remembered only a handful of people milling about. Perhaps the mind plays tricks with your memory, or maybe it is just much busier now, but this wonderful piazza was just teeming with folk today. It still looked amazing, but I had remember gasping the first time that I had set eyes on this place. It still remains a masterpiece in architectural design, the way the tiles spiral down towards the majestic buildings at it’s base, with larger whiter tiles forming leading lines down to the centre. It is here, that every August, they run horse races here, round the huge periphery of this extraordinary space. It is indeed one of the most wonderful pieces of public space in the world – just a shame that there were so many tourists there admiring it. Likewise, the Duomo, the cathedral, is another masterpiece – not quite so impressive as the Duomo in Florence, but a very close second. The black and white tiled towers mimic the construction of the Duomo in Florence, and are equally as stunning.

We wandered around the narrow alleyways, and admired the stunning medieval buildings at every turn. Siena is certainly a stunner. I think though, if we ever return, we will go perhaps in November or February, when hopefully you could enjoy this city in a more intimate way.

We plodded back in the heat to Oscar and then set off for the coast. Our campsite is set besides a lake, and is very pleasant. After doing some washing, we headed off to the Pizzeria at the end of the lane, and enjoyed a tasty meal before retiring. It is much quieter here than our campsite last night – just cicadas, and the odd aeroplane overhead approaching Pisa Airport.

Tomorrow we catch the ferry to Corsica. We will be meeting Howard’s brother and sister-in-law on arrival, and spending a few days exploring the island with them. Consequently, I will not be blogging for a few days, until they are away.

Our second shot at Italy on this trip has been a great experience. Northern Italy is clearly much more affluent and well kept than it’s southern half. Each has it’s merits, but we have certainly loved our time in Tuscany, and the scenery has been just stunning. 

Hopefully, Corsica will continue to impress!

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