Monday Oct. 15: Firenze ⇒ San Gimignano
Food & lodging notes
We got to the Piazza del Duomo just as a funeral was leaving the church; the bells were tolling. After a decent interval we entered the church, which could be lit by putting a 200-lira coin in a “Compu-Light.” The frescoes were astounding — trecento — from the creation to the resurrection in 4 stories.
Light lunch in an enoteca within the walls, “de Castelle,” which was pure delight.
An enoteca is a wine library, a place whose main purpose is educating the public about wine. Italians drink more wine per capita than anyone else on earth, but they are not as knowledgable about fine wines even as Americans. Many restaurants list only red and white on the menu; if you want one of the vintage wines, you point. Every enoteca we saw seemed to be a place of quiet and refuge. Most were built over wine cellars, and several had a section of the floor removed and covered in heavy glass: vertiginous. Most had many rooms and areas on different levels, made for leisurely wandering in.
We also picked up and brought home five seeds from a most peculiar shrub / bush that was growing on the patio. While we sat there in the hot sun, accompanied by a table of quiet Germans and a local cat, seed pods exploded. One by one they popped loudly and flung seeds for several yards. I picked one of the unexploded seed clusters and worried at it, and it went off in my hand. (Little damage; the cat had done more.) We’ll try to get these seeds to grow here, but I’m not too hopeful. Maybe on a few days in July we have climate like this plant wants. Will send two to Raven near Santa Cruz. Anthony said he’d research to try to identify the plant.