Monday, October 20, 2008

Waltzing in Tuscany

I last wrote while in Orvieto, sitting in a little internet café. We strolled after dinner and discovered the Duomo, but it was dark so we vowed to return in the morning, which we did. Since it was Sunday morning, there was a service going on so we were able to enjoy the beauty and the singing. Lucky us.

The plan for Sunday was to find two once-a-month-outdoor-antique markets and I’ve asked Howard to write the narrative of how we fared in our driving to them.

Here’s Howard:

Dayna has her sights set on two outdoor markets, one in Siena and the other in Lucca. After loading all our stuff in the car, we set the GPS (Marcie is her name) for Siena and off we went. God Bless GPS. We arrive in Siena as planned and park outside the city walls. Since we are there only for the market, we are focused and head up some stairs that a local woman tells us will get us to the church. Just go up those “soft stairs” she says. Let me tell you right now, there are no such things as soft stairs. They may be wider and slower, but soft on the knees they are not.

The church is right where it is supposed to be, like it has moved in the last 600 years. We ask around the area since there is no market to be seen. In an outdoor area inside the church’s perimeter, people are milling about but it is a missionary event, lots of baked goods on display. Alas, no market and we are in the right place; so off we go, only slightly disappointed.

Back in the car, I reset Marcie for Lucca. I drive like a local, not hesitating at intersections and rotaries as we wind our way. Instead of the A-11, like our I-5, we are traveling through small towns on Via Machiavelli, something like a 99-E through Woodburn. We are having a hoot; this GPS is really great. Traffic is light and because we know where we are going and when to turn, we have time to look about. I spot a statuary supply market on Via Machiavelli and hope to return. We laugh that it supplies Italy with all their “antiques.” “Hey Gino, take that statute over there and knock off an arm and send it to Caesar’s place in Rome; whoops, wrong arm, ok, just knock off the penis and send it to Medici’s place in Volterra.”

I am driving like a mad man, having a blast, when we begin to wonder about the directness of our route. If this is the most direct route to Lucca, then something is wrong. By this time, we are literally off Machiavelli and in the middle of beautiful country roads, small agri-tourismos and farm land. Suddenly we hear Marcie say “In 400 yards, you have reached your destination.” This is not right, no way. “Marcie, you bitch, this isn’t Lucca, what are you thinking?” Pulling over, I immediately realize that the GPS was set for a destination from a prior user (do you think it was operator error? I think not.) I set Marcie again for Lucca, double check it and off we go, laughing that we would never have seen the sights we saw if Marcie had not taken us there.

Lucca is on us before we know it. It is a wonder what the autostrada can do for making up time. Luckily we find free parking outside the walls and in beautiful afternoon weather, Dayna and I head for an open air antique market that stretches from one piazza to another and a few blocks wide. Low and behold, we find it and the shopping begins.

At first Dayna seems discouraged as the prices are really outrageous. A single postcard is 5 Euros. However, the scope of this market is awesome and it ranges from large pieces of furniture to the smallest of trinkets. Suddenly, Dayna finds a booth that has some Milagros she has coveted for months; but no vendor. Looking about, I ask, but no one knows. We leave, noting the booth for a later return. Dayna continues her hunt, leaning in and over, reaching, touching and handling all that may be of interest. She asks me to ask the vendor how much (that’s what I do mainly). As we are about to leave one piazza, a large corner booth calls Dayna’s name. Multiple bins of stuff, semi organized. Here is a man who wants to sell. His prices are reasonable and he is ready to move it. The owner, as multiple customers vie for his attention, calmly answers their questions as he takes his needle nose pliers and tears apart an electrical fixture to expose the windings to place in a bin for sale. This is my kind of guy -- tearing apart stuff.

Dayna’s comments:

Began to roam amidst the maze of vendors. First word to describe the experience: EXPENSIVE. Second word: VERY. I found a few things here and there but resisted the urge because I wasn’t loving anything. I did buy two clock hands, and a doorbell buzzer (with a red button in the center!). Then, THEN, I discovered a row of Milagros, the burning hearts I so love. The vendor wasn’t there, circled around a few times, then left, only to discover a booth with RUSTY JUNK. I purchased several handfuls of bits and pieces I can’t even describe (photos below).

We were about to leave, but decided to see if the Milagros vendor had returned. He was there. “How much?” we asked. No English, not even in Euros. A vendor from the next booth translated: “Five Euros each, all for fifty.” We bought them all. I had to have the flaming hearts, the antique flaming hearts. I was vibrating with excitement.

Here are photos of my treasures:

By this time I was famished. I told Howard I needed to: 1) Go to the bathroom, 2) Wash my hands, 3) Have a cuppucino, and 4) Eat. We accomplished all four very close by.

Howard again:

Following a meal, caffe and a potty break (not in that order) we head out of Lucca for Volterra. Calling ahead to Daniel, the caretaker at the place we are staying, is a good thing as we are running late. As we approach Volterra, the road becomes narrow, winding with switchbacks and hair pin turns and drop offs on each side. Thank goodness it is dark so Dayna can’t see all the way down. I am focused on the road and having a blast! God bless GPS. Marcie is back in my good graces.

Our place appears to be townhouse apartments set in two buildings. As we climb into bed, we lament there is no street noise, no revelers, no traffic, just a starry night, a dark sky and the quiet noise of, yes, wild life. During the night we hear animals howling; not the least of which is a dog owned by the caretaker, but as we awoke this morning to a sun rise that was beautiful, the birds were singing and the day was calling.

Our morning in Volterra, blogging and preparing for our day!


Peshe said...

luv the milagros. the ladies. the rusties.

so did you ask yourselves the question "why is there a fire extinqisher by the front door of a stone building?"

gl. said...

"we lament there is no street noise, no revelers, no traffic, just a starry night, a dark sky and the quiet noise of, yes, wild life."

oh, that sounds wonderful to me, especially after the vicarious bustle i've experienced just by reading you! ;)

so glad to hear you finally lucked into a market. the glass beach was nice, but this is what you've been waiting for! also, i'm really enjoying howard blogging. god bless gps!

Destree said...

Love your new treasures! You and Howard look great, and it sounds like you all are having a blast. It's so good to hear both of your "voices" :0)