Ok so now is when the trip always gets a little exciting / stressful! Day 4 – of course my lucky number right, and this is our 13th Candelaria Design Tour Italy….right??? Ok – get ready!
We started the day, Saturday, with breakfast at the hotel and then another morning walk, this time to the San Lorenzo Market! As I have said many times, I love this place and wish we had even half of this in Phoenix. Wow! It also makes me want to rent a flat here and come to the market every morning to stock up and then cook for everyone….. Too many ideas and too little time.
The market is great and I enjoyed watching and listening to the people and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells. It’s the best.
We did a little shopping from the street vendors which is always fun. One thing I did notice, even since just being here over the Holidays, is the absence of the counterfeit vendors – they seemed to finally gotten rid of them which is great. They were always so annoying and for someone who produces original work, the thought of these impostors selling their fake bags and goods just disgusts me. So I was glad to see them gone! With our shopping done it was back to the hotel to pack up and get ready to check out of the hotel, load up our transports back to the airport to pick up our rental cars. Sounds easy right?
Well the check out went perfect and then we got to the vans and loaded the luggage….all good! Off to the airport where the transport drivers (two vans) were to drop us off at the rental car lot….not the airport departure curb. Well convincing the drivers of this request was a challenge especially when they were trying to drop us off at the departure curb. With a little coaxing we were able to get them to the rental car lot where of course it started to rain!
We unloaded all the luggage on the deck and the drivers went inside to get the paperwork filled out and get the keys to the cars. Meanwhile the rest of our travelers pitched the umbrellas and waited with their bags doing their best to stay dry. With keys in hands we loaded our luggage respectively and got our cars – all 6 cars – in order for our departure to Umbria. One of my rules is to just stay in your parking spot until I call upon you to get your car in line but one of my drivers thought they saw us leave so off they went….. luckily not too far out of the lot before they panicked and called me wondering where we went? I told them to stop and I would find them, got the other cars to them and got everyone in order again. I introduced everyone to Google Maps, gave them pins to our first stop which with 11 women and only 3 men was the Prada Outlet about an hour south of Florence.
Getting to the Prada Outlet, called Space, all went fine! They have built a new bridge and faster route to it and so it was a slam dunk. We shopped for about an hour and then it was off to the market near the Umbrian Farmhouses. Again no issues – everyone followed right along and we made it to the market in Mercatale where we stocked up on our provisions for the week!
From there it was to the houses up the dusty (this year with all the rain not so dusty) dirt road to our destination and home for the week. Ok – these are farmhouses! They are rustic – there is no room service, they are in the middle of nowhere with no TV limited cell phone service and wifi that cuts in and out. But that’s the point – its an escape to the rustic countryside and an experience and environment few people ever see when they come to Italy – but to me this is real Italy. Fresh air, quiet, down time…..we all need it. Is it luxury 5 star accommodations and service. No – it’s a Farmhouse and you embrace it! We share rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, living spaces, the porch…. Ahhh the porch – where what is said or happens in Umbria stays in Umbria….and so will be the case here and on this trip and every trip!
We gradually settled in and got everyone situated….some year’s that is easy some year’s it proves a bit more challenging. But as with everything in life perseverance, patience, and the right attitude can overcome any challenges!
Soon Elizabeth Wholey and her partner of some 16 years Paola came to the house and started preparing our farmhouse welcome dinner which is always fantastic. Meat and veggie homemade lasagna, peppers stuffed with local sausage, veggies with a beet and garbanzo bean dip, and of course their fantastic dessert – panna cotta with fruiti di bossco - we were home in Umbria and it was time to relax!