It’s the end of day 2 in Italy. We arrived yesterday in the rain and the rain has continued today. Tonight we are surrounded by thunder and lightening. Nonostante (nevertheless) we have continued to enjoy ourselves with the Luconi’s here in Tuscany. Yesterday we rested and then went out to a concert at a local 15th century church. To our surprise, instead of local musical group, we were treated to the sounds of a group of singers from New Zealand who chanted Maori music. The Maori’s are the tribe represented in the movie “The Whale Rider”. A picture of the performers will appear on this page once I manage to re-install my camera software on the computer. It got lost somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean on the way over.

This morning we awoke to very light rain.and went for a tour of Il Palagio, the olive oil and wine estate where we are staying. In spite of the rain, it was hard not to appreciate the beauty of the countryside. As the rain intensified, we made the decision to drive to Florence. A great day! First we visited our friend, Francesco Donati at NOI, a leather manufacturer. He sends his regards to Julie and Barry. Then lunch at Francesco’s new restaurant, “SLOWLY”. After that, we went to the Botticelli exhibit at the Strozzi Palace. This was followed by a brief shopping trip for sweaters (it’s still cold) and some groceries and then back to Panzano. Out to dinner to Ristorante Albergo and then home to sleep.

A quick picture from dinner last night.

Now it’s 6 Maggio and we’ve just returned from a walk in town. The narrow cobblestone streets are bordered by beige and sand-colored homes with rust and orange shutters. Flowers and greens are everywhere. The townspeople are friendly and willing to tolerate our broken and struggling Italian. We stopped for espresso and Latte at the local bar (Italian for coffee shop). This picture shows the four of us enjoying the moment.

The view from our walk back to Il Palagio:

Still May 6 and we’re back at Il Palagio after a day of driving to vineyards in Chianti country. Lunch was at a local roadside pizzeria in Pienella. Great meal! And too much wine. I dozed off as we went on a search for Dievole, a vineyard that we were told we had to see. It was an interesting experience, but basically designed to sell wine. We had bought a few bottles and now are back, driving through rain, sleet and snow (yes snow) and Fred Luconi is making a fire. I’m pretty sure we’ll stay home tonight and then off to Rome tomorrow.