We were driving from Rimini to the mountains near La Spezia. Clear across the country! We drove right by Florence, and didn't even stop. Who does that?? But the problem is, there is so much to see in Italy that we have to pick and choose what it is that we want to see. Especially when we only have just under three weeks.
Here is yesterday's drive...
Yesterday's drive, 334 kms (208 miles).
Even taking the major toll highways, it was going to be a six hour drive with breaks. And Ruth wanted to do a hike near a monastery along the way, so that meant we had to take some back roads. So we knew we had a long day ahead of us. Tried to get out of Rimini at 8:00am, but it was almost 8:45am by the time we got the car all packed up and finally on the road.
Here's some scenery along the way...
Our car. It's fun to drive, plus it gets 55 mpg!
One village seems to blend right into the next one. The fastest we drove was about 70 km/h. (42 mph). Never got the car into fifth gear! So it was pretty slow going, but on the bright side, there certainly was a lot of scenery to enjoy.
Overlooking the town of San Stefano.
We arrived at the La Verna monastery at 11:40am. It had taken us three hours to do 105 kms (65 miles)!!
The monastery is built on the grounds of Casentinesi National Park. But that's only because the monastery has been there long before the area was ever a National Park. The monastery was started around the year 1200. In fact, the sanctuary is famous for being the place where St. Francis of Assisi is said to have received the stigmata (yes, I had to google that too!) on September 14, 1224.
La Verna Monastery.
La Verna Monastery.
But we weren't there for the monastery. We were there to do a hike in the National Park. Ruth had seen an amazing picture online, but there are so many trails that we couldn't find the actual spot where the photo was taken. Plus, we didn't have a lot of time to look for it because we still had a lot of driving to do.
We decided to do a short 4 km (2.6 mile) trail to the top of Mount Penna.
An ancient cold storage room.
Setting off on our hike.
Some nice views.
Ruth, looking at the ground near the top.
What is she looking at?
Spring crocuses blooming. There were a lot of them on the forest floor.
We made it to the top, and I recorded it for you...turn your volume up...
We headed back down another route, but didn't take any photos along the way. We needed to get back on the road!
Two way road through village.
But only room for one car at a time!
Tuscany really is beautiful.
We arrived at the outskirts of Florence, and decided that we had better get on the toll roads if we were going to make it to Pieve di Zignato before dark. Hard to take decent pictures from the toll roads at 120 km/h (74 mph) with high railings normally blocking your view, but here are a few along the way...
Quite a few quarries in the mountains, with a lot of businesses selling what we're guessing is marble.
We got off the toll highway just after La Spezia. The cost for 176 kms (109 miles) was €15.70 ($23 CAD, $17 USD). Not cheap, but it does get you to where you need to go.
Then, we had a half hour drive on a narrow twisty windy mountain road up to the town of Pieve di Zignato (pop 565). There, we called our contact Felice and he met us and led us up to our home for the next week. We arrived at about 5:45pm!
We had rented a house through Airbnb. An old cottage in town. In fact, one paper we found says that this cottage is 800 years old! We paid €172 ($251 CAD, $189 USD) for the week. Anything close to Cinque Terre National Park is expensive, so we did pretty good.
The living/dining room.
The place will do us just fine. Would be nice if there was a couch in this room instead of another bed, but we'll make do. It's pretty well set up though, even with some basic food items. There's a bottle of local olive oil too...
Ruth made a nice dressing with the stuff out of that bottle!
Today is a relax day. We'll just explore the town, and maybe go for a local walk. After yesterday, we're not in the mood to drive anywhere!
Check out today's deal's here...