Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tuscany - Tuesday - 5/5/15

I was up and at 'em this morning! It was a peaceful and quiet night of sleep as I knew it would be. I was awake and ready to go by 7am. Not sure why, because I didn't go to bed early. Eric wasn't on the same page at all but awoke from his slumber by 8 to get dressed for breakfast. 

I had already taken a walk around the property with my camera. There wasn't a soul in sight! 

Parking lot with a view. You can see our little Benz in the middle

Early morning pool view

I also stopped at the front desk and explained my dilemma with the Westin charging us for our reward nights. These types of luxury hotels are so accommodating that you almost feel like a big shot, even though you're so obviously not! The manager listened to my story patiently and with sympathy. He gathered my information and checked my e-mail to confirm I actually had the two free nights. I was expecting him to dial up and hand the phone over. Instead, he said he would call them and get back with me later today. Did he just offer to take care of the problem on my behalf? I didn't know my room came with a free assistant but I'll take it! We'll see what happens. 

Eric finally got dressed after making the ever so difficult decision of choosing between navy or plain knacki shorts (we call these "baby problems"). 

Breakfast was one minute away right off the terrace. My throat felt scratchy. I'm not sure what that means, but I felt okay otherwise. The whole time we were at breakfast there were only a few other tables. Everyone must be late risers here. There was a menu of cook-to-order food, like eggs and frittatas and french toast. We decided to keep it simple this morning and had our usual - cappuccinos, coffee, fruit, yogurt, Nutella, croissants, cakes, cheese, salami, and bread. 

This is a 5 star boutique hotel so I knew we were guaranteed an elaborate breakfast and I wasn't disappointed. We headed back to the room after to relax for a few and change for our hike. The hotel offers to pack a picnic lunch with wine to take on a hike, but for an exorbitant price. No thanks, I'm happy just getting exercise, fresh air, and taking in the scenes. 

We packed a little bag with sunscreen, waters, and Eric's map. We headed to the main entrance and down the hill. 

Heading down the tree-lined hill to begin our hike

After about a half mile we realized we went the wrong way. Of course we didn't mind because we got to see something new. 

Cool signs at every corner! But we still got lost

Eric was definitely in charge of directions

We turned back the same way and found the correct route. In total, our hike was approximately 5 miles. It was relatively flat, except for the end when we walked back up the enormous hill to our hotel. It was a warm and sunny morning, but we prepared and had already applied sunscreen. During our hike, we saw many large villas with private entrances, and several different vineyards. 

Private villa on the property that someone owns - Maybe I'll own one someday in the future

A major highlight was when I spotted a hare, AKA the most humongous rabbit ever! Eric didn't see it so I described the enormous bunny rabbit I saw hopping by. He said those are called hares, which I didn't know. However, I now understand why rabbit was always on the menu (ew!). 

You can never get sick of this

Along the path there were a few cars but it was mostly an empty dirt road. Every time a car passed, a wall of dust kicked up and we were covered in dirt when we got back. That was definitely the worst part of the hike. 

The scenery went on forever. We took several pictures along the way. It was a good little workout! 

Views from our hike:

The building in the background is part of our property. It's a separate check-in/service area for people who own or rent the private villas

Ahhh Fresh air!

Posing in my outerwear

There's the dirt path

We reached the end of our hike! Now time to turn around and walk back...

Pretty pond

We changed immediately when we returned to our room and headed to the pool. It wasn't quite as hot and sunny as yesterday but still warm and perfect pool weather. It was quiet at the pool and pretty empty. 

My face = HAPPY

Yes, this is real life

There was a large group of people who spoke French that showed up and a big luncheon was set up on the terrace for them. They livened the place up a bit but I still fell asleep. I must have woken up too early this morning because I was excited! 

Eric read his book about Rome and I read People. Eventually we went swimming and it was so pleasant! We had the pool to ourselves so we enjoyed it a while. Several people commented that the pool wasn't warm enough but once you got in, it was great.

Playing in the pool

Talk about "the good life"

By 3:30 or so we decided to check out the spa. It was a 2 minute walk to get there and we planned to use the facilities. I didn't have an appointment for a spa treatment, but for no charge you can use the locker room which is decked out with a jacuzzi and stream room. The men's locker room had a cold bath too, which was of course Eric's favorite. 

I was very impressed with the spa facility. It was large, spacious, and impeccably clean. I love the steam room and a jacuzzi is always fun. Eric said he had a rotation - hot tub, steam room, cold bath - which he repeated 4 times. This was Eric's second time in a spa and just so you know, he loves a good spa experience. He was in there longer than me, so while I waited I decided to book a massage. There was availability in 20 minutes, so why not? It was a 50 min relaxation massage and cost 135€. Pricey just like in the US! 

A personable Italian lady greeted me in the relaxation room for my massage. She did a phenomenal job! It felt wonderful. Every time I get a massage I wish I got them more often. Just so you're aware, in Italy they massage everything except your coochie (although she got pretty close). My guess is that this is "standard protocol" across Europe. 

Afterwards, I found Eric sipping wine on the terrace reading his book. We went up to shower and decide on dinner plans. We considered the restaurant here, but after checking the menu, we decided it was too expensive. Neither of us care about fine dining because we have enough of that in Boston. We'd much rather feast on inexpensive and authentic Tuscan Italian cuisine. 

Before Dinner pic. Lovin' how blonde my hair is

Eric spoke with the concierge and we had a couple options in nearby towns. We decided on Osteria del Borgo in Mensano. It was a 15 minute drive, but of course, we took a wrong turn just trying to leave the hotel property and had to turn back. 

The hotel printed us specific instructions and we had Eric's phone. The phone directions are so much easier because they speak to you and tell you when to turn, etc. How did we ever live without this technology? 

After a few serious twists and turns, we drove up a very large mountain to this tiny Tuscan town called Mensano. There was a tiny parking lot where we grabbed a spot right as we entered the town. We parked and decided to take a short walk before dinner. This town is elevated higher than our hotel and the views were gorgeous as ever. 

The backdrop looks like a painting

Views from the quaint town of Mensano

Eric pondering about...hmmm...dinner most likely

All the homes had these little wooden doors. 

I think Eric would have to duck to make it though this door

We saw families hanging in their back yards. 

How amazing is this porch?

Based on all the pretty flowers and adorable little yards, it seems that they really take pride in their homes. How cute! 

Lookin' fly!

Hey there

We walked past a few grandpas just chilling in their chairs and I am sure our American faces were amusing. 

Walking through the narrow roads of Mensano

Walking around town

After a while we headed to the restaurant and it was charming as ever. This is exactly what we've been wanting! 

Osteria del Borgo - Where we ate one of our favorite meals

There was one waiter in the whole restaurant who barely spoke English. I think this was the only restaurant in the entire town. The menu had one side in Italian and one side in English. We ordered a nice bottle of Sangiovese for 20€ that Eric chose. 

We didn't finish all the wine and brought it back with us

For appetizers, we chose two chef specials which were the caprese salad and fried artichokes. Both were excellent. I'm really loving this Italy artichoke kick we're on! For an entree, Eric ordered black tortellini with truffle cream. He loved it. 

Awe, Eric's so cute!

I ordered the vegetable soup with bread. I figured I'd get a typical bowl of minestrone with a side of bread. Not so much! It was served in this cool cast iron bowl and I swear it was probably one of the best soups I have ever eaten. I know my parents would love this too. There were actual pieces of Italian bread mixed in the soup, but they weren't soggy and I have no idea how that's possible. It had beans or lentils in it and had a thick, hearty consistency. I can't pinpoint the exact flavors but it reminded of something I've had at home.


Needless to say, we felt happy and fulfilled. There was a mother and daughter sitting behind us (we recognized them from our hotel) and Eric said they didn't look happy. Apparently they had issues with their food and were complaining. Isn't it funny how people can have a completely different experience at the same place, and even the same time?!  It goes to show there is so only so much trust you can put in the reviews you read online because we are all incredibly different people with unique opinions and backgrounds. 

I checked the bill and it looked correct, but was 45€ total, which just seemed too low. Is it possibly to go out to eat in Italy for under 50€? I don't think so. Turns out, the waiter forgot to add the wine. I suggested we put 50€ on the table and leave. Eric decided to tell the waiter and he then added the wine to the bill. Lol. Need I say more? 

The drive home had me a bit scared for a second because it was dark and we had almost finished a bottle of wine. Luckily we made it without a problem and I was exhausted when we got to the room. I could barely stay up to write my blog. We were fast asleep after BY FAR, the most relaxing day we've had in Italy. Finally!

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