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Some down time in Tuscany

Spending our third full day in Borgo Iesolana, near Bucine in Tuscany. There's much to love about this place.

Our apartment is beautiful. We chose our previous lodging, in Montàsola, for an opportunity to live like Italians for a few days. This time, we're living like Italians with more money. The apartment is spacious, with two bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen (including a dishwasher), and an enormous patio with sweeping views of the mountains and trees. While it's been too cool to use the pool, we've got one of those too, as well as vineyards to wander through, a ping-pong table and small soccer field at our disposal, and bales of hay to touch. (There's also a resident cat, Teo, who has already taken advantage of one open patio door to make himself at home on our couch.)

On the other hand, the approach to the grounds here is about 3 km long, beginning with a narrow brick bridge. I'd call it a one-lane bridge, but that overstates it. Really, the bridge is only slightly wider than our car, which isn't that big. The rest of the road is basically a gravel path. It takes us a good five to seven minutes to even make it to the main road—a drawback when traveling with an easily bored toddler.

Also, as nice as this place is, we feel nickel-and-dimed every time we need anything. Breakfast, which we haven't eaten since the first morning, consists of a small buffet of cereal, yogurt, juice, bread, and pastries and is 7 euros per person (even for Evan, even though "breakfast" for him consists of licking the Nutella off his toast). Internet access is 8 euros for an hour -- explaining the infrequent posting. Laundry is 10 euros to wash and dry a small load. They charge a considerable amount to change a single towel. And so on.

Still, it's been extremely pleasant to have a home base for an entire week, particularly one that's as geographically central. We began the week with a trip to the iperCOOP in Montevarchi to buy groceries. This was a memorable experience—all the glorious chaos of Italy in a single Costco-sized warehouse. You can buy seemingly anything in this store—fruit, cheese, fresh bread, televisions, mobile phones, swimming pool flotation devices (the reason we went in the first place), books, etc. It's not the sort of place to go when you've just got a few things you need because it's impossible to get in and out quickly. But it's definitely fun if you have the right attitude.

Otherwise, we've stayed fairly close to home and not been too adventurous. Our most outstanding meal was at L'Antico Borgo in Civitella in Val di Chiana, a beautiful hilltop town that Evan particularly liked for the bells that rang on the hour. Since then, he's heard bells in other towns, but none seem to compare. We also spent the morning yesterday in Arezzo, a very pleasant city about 35 minutes away from our apartment. It's got an impressive cathedral and a nice mostly-pedestrian-only main shopping street.

Yesterday, needing a quick bite to eat, we grabbed some pizza slices at Gli Svizzeri, a touristy bar with a pleasant  terrace along Via Del Corso. Only after we sat did I notice its motto on the window, Per prendere un caffè è tradire la moglie, c'è sempre tempo. To have a coffee and cheat on one's wife, there's always time. You'd expect a place this classy to have outstanding food, but sadly, it was not. Twelve euros for three slices of pizza and a bottle of water later, we were on our way.

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