NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.  Comments added AFTER real time are in [square brackets].

Trip Log 9.  Day 9.  Moving to Tuscany

Thursday October 21, 2010. Castello di Bibbione

It's our last morning in Venice and we are packing and doing some minor cleaning. Rocky said that because he wasn't going to be here to help us move out, we could skip the cleaning they normally expect.

NOTE: AOL Desktop for Mac v 1.5 sucks. I had a complete draft ready (likely 3-4 hours of preparation), I did a SAVE, but when I tried to OPEN what I had just closed, the draft wouldn't come back up. I had to start completely at the beginning again. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. {Especially because he is usually doing this at 2AM}

I do a piggy-back of our two large checked bags, each on wheels, so I'm pulling one, and the other is tightly bound to this one. If I hold it at just the right angle, there is zero pressure for it to fall forward or backward. Very convenient for pulling. I have my computer bag over my shoulder too, plus other stuff. We are all loaded down. As Jerry starts down one path, Shirley objects because she sees a small bridge we have to negotiate, and says that there must be a better way. Meaning, she still remembers crossing the Rialto Bridge with all our stuff, and she doesn't want to do that again. Then she points to a different path and Jerry says there's a bridge there too. Thing is, you can't see it, so Shirley leads us down that one. Next thing you know...

...we're crossing a bridge, up, up, up, down, down, down. Jerry leads us to the Rialto vaporetto station. It's about 9:30 am.

We meet a New Zealand couple waiting in line to get on a boat. They are in between legs of a cruise, and have taken advantage of the time to come here. Their accents seem pleasant and unusal in this setting.

Sharon reminds me to make a note of how Venetian gondola pilots use the upper oarlock, but some times the lower part of the oarlock that is just a little bit above the level of the gondola itself. {It looks like when they have to pull hard on the oar, they use the lower oarlock, but if they are kind of coasting along, they use the top one. Shirley and I love watching them push off the buildings with a kick of their foot if they are getting too close.}

Jerry buys four passes at 6.90 euros each, so in the who-owes-who-what game we've been playing, I owe him 14 euros since we were even before this. The vaporetto shows up and on we go, parking our big luggage at the front of the "inside" part of the boat. As opposed to "outside." Here's a few shots of us leaving.

Who was that lady I saw you with, Jer?

Last bridge before the parking lot.

By 10:30, Jerry is repacking the back of the van. He's our expert packer, having taken so many trips to Canada from Kansas City, and packing their van for every inch that it was worth. {Shirley and I stand way back when they are packing because "heaven forbid" a woman would suggest to a man how to pack a car.}

I don't remember exactly who did this - I might have done it while Jerry was driving, or he might have done it before we took off. At any rate, the route from the Tronchetta parking structure in Venice to our home-is-our-castle is programmed in. All we have to do is follow the visual and audio instructions of the GPS.


Shirley reads us some material about Italy, which declares that complaining is an Italian pastime. I'll go along with that.

11 am, and we get a Great Egret flyover.

We pass a health club (Zool) while everybody but the driver tries to decipher the Italian user manual, translating Italian to something understandable, with respect to how the heck do you use the cruise control? {I LOVE doing this. In Turkey, it was a hoot as I can kind of get what the topic is from the pictures, but never have any real idea what they are saying. But sometimes, you find out some cool thing that the car will do by reading, i.e., looking at the pictures in the manual.}

Shirley switches over to writing down the things that they bought, for customs when they get back to the US.

Sharon DOES figure out how to toggle through warning messages on a display on the dashboard - fuel consumption, ETA, etc. Then she yells "CRANE!", but I think it was a Grey Heron. She panicked. I've done the same thing myself.

For some unknown reason, the automatic windshield wipers come on once, then stop. This is supposed to happen whenever the windshield gets more than some plateau amount of water on it. Jerry postulates that it thinks of the squashed bugs as water and tries to wipe them off.

I watch a scene go past, where a farmer's tractor is equipped with a multi-jointed arm, on the end of which is a thing like a power lawnmower. My first thought was that it looked like a magnet you see in recycle centers, but it has lawn mower blades now.

Sharon says that we need to listen to her define her "clock." That's how you describe what direction to look out the window, when she says, "I got a bird at 4 o'clock," for example. only she says straight ahead is 12, I'm 2, Sharon's 4, nothing is behind us, so it doesn't get a number, Shirley's 9. What's Jerry? I ask. "Jerry's ten o'clock." Hellllpppp. {Somehow, it made sense to me at the time. When you look at a tree and try to describe where you see the bird, you use the top of the tree as 12 o'clock and the bottom as 6 and so forth. }

Suddenly we come over a hill and instead of countryside, we see an auto dealer, a line of TVs for sale, a patch of water, and a Great White Egret, across the way.

We compare notes and calculate who owes who what. I owe Jer 65, but paid ten for a toll. He was due to pay half, so now I owe him 60. {Welcome to my world. They calculate and re-calculate this every time a purchase is made. As with my clock image, it makes sense to them but Shirley and I are just along for the ride in this aspect of the trip.}

We zip through a tunnel. Something really cool about going through a tunnel in a mountain.

Return Address labels are the next subject, and Sharon tells our story. We belong to the National Audubon Society, and every year, they send us free return address labels. In the beginning, they said Via Romera. That is correct. Then for several years, they began to add a '.' after the Via, so they said "Via. Romera". Then this year, they said "Viaduct Romera". Nothing can top that.

The subject comes around to what story about our trip so far do you like the most. Shirley likes the one in Venice. She bought a little caterpillar glass figure from a male clerk in Murano. Then she told about sister-in-law Loretta Lutman, who recently had a book on caterpillars published called "The Ugly Caterpillar". You can buy it on The fellow she was talking to gets a puzzled look on his face, and says that in Italy a caterpillar is a piece of heavy equipment, and he doesn't understand the concept of an ugly tractor. I think I have the location mixed up, but you get the idea.

Anyway, check this book out. It's great for little kids and big kids. Excellent Christmas gift.

Sharon reminds us of the "people mover" signs we saw in the parking lot in Venice. "Did anybody see a people mover?" No one saw a long moving conveyer belt delivering people 100 yards or so down the terminal. "Maybe it's the water buses," Shirley offers. And I think that's likely what they meant. I offer that maybe it was Carmelo, standing there with his mustache in case anybody slowed down.

Shirley likes the word castello (pronounced kah-STELL-o, where KAH rhymes with the FA of DO-RE-ME fame. I offer that in the 40s and 50s, all the castles were owned by the church, down to the level of abbot, and this was one particularly lucky Abbott's Castello.

We finally arrive in San Casciano, or more accurately San Casciano in Val di Pesa. We don't have any groceries yet, and we don't know where to shop so we stop at a little sandwich bar in town for lunch. I see a woman eating gnocci with tomatoes, and I ask the proprietor if he speaks English. He holds up a finger, and summons a young lady to talk with me. Yes, they have gnocci, and they put four different kinds of cheese on it, so I order that. Jerry orders a tuna and artichoke hearts on bread and Shirley a salad. It is very clean, very nice.

A cross between a totem pole and the Bremen Town Musicians stands by our car.

We finish up and follow Jerry's GPS up the multi-switchbacked road to Castello di Bibbione's entrance.

We head down the driveway, take a very sharp downhill left turn (seen here) and make it down to our own private building. It's awesome.

A little past 3 pm and we're in our quarters.

We go to the office, and meet two young women:

Sarah (It sounds like she says sahdah, sah and dah to rhyme with FA, as above. But she's really rolling an 'R' in the middle, and says a perfectly prounounced, "You would say Sara in America."

Valerie, pronounced va-LEHR-ee, I think but I might be way off on that.

Sarah lives near the bottom of the hill and Valerie in San Casciano.

We get instructions on how to get to Florence and avoid the famous $200 camera ticket so many people get who don't understand YOU CAN'T PARK OR EVEN DRIVE INSIDE THE OLD CITY WALLS or BAM, you're on candid camera.

Then it's photo time - a favorite time of the clock for me. First the castle grounds.

Our building. Living room, dining room, kitchen on bottom floor. Two bedrooms and TV/fireplace room on top floor. That's Shirley looking out one of the two windows in their bedroom.

More grounds walking:

You can order breakfast, and have it prepared to your liking here.


And now the interior of our building.

Upstairs entry. Couch/bed in TV/Fireplace Room.

Two more TV room photos.

Our bedroom

Our bathroom (downstairs) {Notice the towel-warmer (those white bars on the right) What a luxury to have warm towels and it also warms up the room too. They will feature in a story later.}


Jerry and Shirley's bedroom

Jerry and Shirley's bathroom


The stairs from below, looking upward. Notice the nice curve. {And I never fell down them once!}

Living Room
Looking toward dining room. Dining Room


So there's your photo tour of the property and our building - Le Ginestre. {Can you stand it? What a beautiful place to stay in Tuscany. Good job Bob!}

Sleeping in a castle. Can't wait. Good night yall.

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