The Gap year starts …

April 18th – Sydney airport – and after 9 months of planning our adventure begins. It’s taken two weeks to sort out how to blog, so a quick catch up

  • The flights up to Doha and on to Nice on Qatar Air were comfortable and problem free. We would add Qatar Air to Qantas, Singapore and Emirates as having acceptable economy class.
  • We have leased a car from Peugeot, (why we went to Nice), as the cheapest long term option, and have a very nice 308 GT hatchback – very “boyracer”.
  • The Italian drivers all seem a little crazy and see no reason why they should slow down in heavy traffic, give way even when they should, use their indicators, (where they are going is nobody else’s business!!), park wherever they want, (angle parking on narrow streets is common), but no one seems fazed – you just manoeuvre around them.
San Donato in Collina
Adie’s cooking in San Donato in Collina
  • After a night in Nice we drove over to Tuscany and had a week in a farmhouse near San Donato in Collina, just outside of Florence. Adrienne managed to find a large outlet shopping village before we even checked in – this set the tone!! She is now applying for asylum in Italy on the basis that she cannot get good shoes or decent cheese in Sydney …
  • Anyway did all the tourist things, went to lots of Tuscan hill towns – Siena, (love this place, Adrienne tried to fix the Italian economy in one afternoon, by way of three pairs of shoes, but did serious damage to the Australian balance of payments), Cortona, (of Under the Tuscan Sun fame), Montepulciano, (lovely town, did some wine tasting in a building that had been in the same family for 41 generations and used as a winery for over 500 years – we have a couple of bottles the Hughes and Campbells will enjoy when you get here),   Arezzo, (OK place, but Adrienne got the guilts about her shoes and gave an African refugee 5 euros – he’s trying to get us to adopt him now), and a few others, but there are only so many before “enough”.
  • Went to Florence on the train. Loved it the first time we went in 2003, but now it’s overrun with tourists. The “highlight” was a chinese lady trying to take a selfie in front of a speeding ambulance – it had to break to avoid hitting her – mind numbing ….
  • Went to Bologna, old town was pumping but by council decree no building could turn the air con on until May 1 – it was about 28C – not a good nights sleep, but excellent food
Twin Towers in Bologna – Bin Laden missed these, but the small one has a severe lean
  • Then on to Puglia via San Marino, (micro state in the mountains – spectacular views). Got here, (San Vito dei Normanni), last Saturday and have been getting to know the area. We are in a house in the country and every night at about 4am we are reminded of that when the donkey next door gets rooted by the shepherd, (well that’s what it sounds like!!)
  • We are getting into a slow rhythm – each day we seem to have a problem to overcome and each day we mange to get it sorted by “wine o’clock”. The internet was a bit more problematic, (we were promised Monday but Wednesday afternoon “it is good, no?”), but we have found good supermarkets, nice beaches, sorted Adrienne’s language school, and if we can get the washing machine to work, (currently dead with a load of our washing trapped inside), all will be good.
  • As for the important matter of wine we have decided after some trials, (and failures), that euro 1.79 wine is not good – we have set a base of euro 2.49, and found some that are ok!!
  • Adrienne is doing the cucina povera thing – do we look thinner yet? The supermarkets have really good produce and selection, and it’s all so cheap – tonight we had a free range chicken – euro 2.20
San Vito farmhouse


2 thoughts on “The Gap year starts …”

  1. Laughing so hard at ‘when the donkey next door gets rooted by the shepherd’ description!!!!! I can’t imagine a more disturbing wake up call 😀

    Also good to know that the chinese continues to represent in all corners of the globe from Sydney to Florence by maintaining their international identity of standing-in-the-middle-of-everyone’s-way-for-a-photo (they’re SO clueless!!!!!!!)

  2. ahh, the shoes from outside Florence. Please check out local shoe shops for me Adrienne, pleeeease.
    Love the commentary on the state of finances of Oz and Ital

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