Soothing among the trees

Awake at 6:30. Oops. Awake at 8.

I was sitting on the toilet happily abluting when a half asleep Mirinda opened the door and, in alarm, blurted out “Blur!”, shut the door and retreated. She believes this has never happened before in 11 years of marriage so I included here for fear it is forgotten.

Today we set out for Monteriggioni (or “Monte-G” as I call it) which is sort of on the way to Siena. It is described as one of Tuscany’s most perfectly preserved medieval villages. It is an “unsullied vision of the Middle Ages” and is amazing. It’s not very big and is like a living museum. The weirdest thing is that the people in the shops looked miserable when they served me. This is contrawise to my every other Tuscan experience so far and a bit of a surprise. Mind you, the old woman who served me from within the dark confines of her gift shop, spoke and smiled at Claire so maybe it’s me.

The Stockwells in Monty-G

The towers of Monte G are mentioned in Dante’s Inferno where they are described as resembling giants in an abyss. This is written on a stone plaque as you enter the city but I didn’t see it and only just read about it in a guide book!!!

The town was founded in 1203 by the Sienese. We had a lovely meal the restaurant. I had ravioli and shaved truffles and a grande beer. Truly delicious. I wasn’t too keen on a truffles after the wild boar but this has changed my mind. We left after walking around all the streets (there are only two) and popped into the cute little church, and drove back by the gorgeous Colle di Val d’Elsa (which we only glimpsed).

When we got back we went to San Vivaldo to see the chapels. What a lovely setting this is. It was founded when an old hermit died in a hollow trunk of a chestnut tree – go figure. This was in the 14th century and his name was Vivaldo Stricchi of San Gimignano.

There are 18 (or 17 depending on who you ask) chapels, each containing terracotta statues telling the story of Christ. It was originally set up as an alternate for pilgrims going to Jerusalem during the dangerous times of the Crusades. Because of this, the chapels are built in a way to replicate the places in Jerusalem and Palestine connected with the preaching and passion of Christ.

Carting a cross up a hill in terra cotta

Originally there were 30 but a lot of chapels fell into disrepair and some fell over the edge of a cliff. One of the statues was of Barabbas, the dude freed instead of Jesus, and was regularly stoned when, during the 1700s it became fashionable for single girls who wanted to find husbands to chuck a rock at him. Eventually the keepers of the chapel took the statue down in 1930! I’m surprised there was anything left.

It was all lovely and very soothing among the trees. We then took off back to Rodilosso where we sat on the balcony having tea/coffee and horrible Christmas cake. Bob that went for a lay down so we all did.

I cooked an eggplant casserole-y thing. (Bob was very sick – projectile vomiting – so he didn’t eat any.) I thought it turned out pretty good given the primitive conditions.

Bob eventually got up and joined us. He then admitted to having a problem with his left eye which has been bothering him for the last few days. We stayed up until 11:30 so he could ring his optometrist in Oz. Everyone’s a bit worried. We were going to Florence tomorrow but I somehow think this is NOT going to be happening!!

The optometrist said it sounded like Bob had a detached retina and he should ring a local doctor to get it looked at ASAP. When Bob asked if he should go back to the UK first, the guy said “DO IT STRAIGHT AWAY” so I guess it’s a big thing!

Mirinda spent a while ringing around embassies trying to find someone who spoke English. The US guy was very nice. It was decided to go to bed and ring round tomorrow morning.

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