I sort of have great friends. And this year, three such friends are coming to Europe for my birthday. I really don’t deserve them.
Instead of coming all the way over here just for a couple weeks in the campo, we’ve decided we’re going to also do a bit of Italy. Basically how this is going to work, is I’ve taken a weekend off work, the girls fly in on Thursday to Rome, we’ll spend the weekend in Tuscany, they’ll go back to Rome for the beginning of the following week while I go back to work, and then they will fly to Spain to spend a week with me.
So my little Italian weekend getaway started with me driving to Seville to catch my flight to Rome. I had to leave at the butt crack of dawn. No. Way earlier, actually. My flight left Seville at 8 AM and it takes 2 hours for me to get to Seville, so I was looking at a 4 AM start to be safe. Which it was a good thing I did considering I got on some rural backcountry highway on accident and ended up driving the scenic route for at least an hour.
I arrived in Rome at the tiny Ciampino airport and rented a car to drive to the bigger Fiumicino to pick up the ladies flying in from the states. I got there early (a rarity, if you know me at all) and grabbed a sandwich and bought some souvenirs for the family before Emily, Jennifer and Erin arrived. After lots of screaming and hugging and all that other mushy girly haven’t-seen-you-in-like-forever crap, we piled our gear into my tiny Clio (hee) and began the 3 hour trek up to our bed and breakfast in the Chianti region of Tuscany.
And now began our hate-hate relationship with the Italian highway system.
We had maps. And directions from google. AND directions directly from our hotel. We also had my secret weapon, which is my brain, a highly trained navigation anomaly accustomed to foreign lands and unmarked side streets. But we were no match. And for the first time of many on this trip, we got severely lost.
I knew we were heading in the right-ish direction. We landed in Rome. I knew that. We wanted to go North. Easy. Italy is not that wide of a country and I also knew that our hotel was only about a half hour off the western coast. I also knew there was a major highway running from Rome to Florence, of which, our exit was located off of. However, no one ever told me that there are not just one, but two major highways running from Rome to Florence. And we, got on the wrong one. So when we passed by our tiny town called Poggibonsi, just about 20 miles to the East, we had no idea, as there were no marked exits for Poggibonsi or any of the other marked towns both sets of directions had given us.
Next thing we know, we’re in Florence.
Too far North.
In addition, I find out we’re in Florence because we come to a toll booth but have lost our ticket and when we are issued a citation that we have to pay for a lost ticket, the citation says it’s been given at the main Florence booth. So we u-turn as gracefully as we can, come around a bend and see our mistake.
Two lanes. Two choices.
Lane 1 – E78 Rome (via Sienna)
Lane 2 – E35 Rome (via Arezzo)
We had come up the E35, and we needed to be on the E78. Awesome.
Once we’re on the right road, the directions are easy. We follow them to this tiny town to a beautiful old restored convent. Antigo Borgo San Lorenzo. At this point, even I’m exhausted, and I can’t imagine what my Atlantic crossing counterparts are feeling like, so we grab a quick-ish bite to eat at the b&b restaurant (which, btw, had the most amazing Caprese salad I’ve ever seen with the mozzarella and basil stuffed INSIDE the tomato) and then we head to bed in our gorgeous little retreat.