Our trip to Tuscany found us departing Washington's Dulles Airport & connecting to Florence through Munich. (While in the Munich Airport we were fortunate to see the USA score two goals against Mexico in World Cup competition!)
Sponsored by the Iowa State University Alumni Association, the trip featured educational seminars that focussed on Tuscany's history -- from its Etruscan origins around 800 B.C. through medieval times to the Medicis -- as well as sightseeing throughout the area.
A special bonus was no packing or unpacking! We stayed the entire time in the Villa Tavolese in the small (tiny?) town/village of Marcialla (pronounced Mar-chal'-a); 400 people with one grocery store, one bakery, one card shop, one fabric store and two banks -- one of which only opened two mornings a week! Our hotel offered a magnificent view of the vineyards and olive groves of the Elsa Valley.
Highlights included visits to:
- The medieval town of Certaldo, home of Givanni Boccaccio, best known for his masterpiece, The Decameron (about 1348-1353).
- San Gimignano, with its 14 medieval towers that have scarcely changed in appearance since the Middle Ages.
- Pisa with its leaning tower and surprisingly beautiful cathedral & baptistery.
- Lucca, with its many churches, home of the operatic genius Puccini.
- Florence -- birthplace of the Renaissance, with its spectacular Il Duomo, Michelangelo's David, and the Uffizi Palace.
- Siena, situated on three high hills where all roads lead to the renowned Piazza del Campo; and where "Contradas" march daily with flags and drums!
We also enjoyed a wine tasting, a Tuscan cooking class and entertainment by the local band and an Italian tenor (joined in song by our cook Fiorella ("little flower"), and a chance to meet & talk (through our interpreter) with some of the local Marcialla residents.
Click on the picture pages below to get a "feel" for our Tuscany trip!