Pascal resting after his little parkour run around the plaza.
Sienna. They were getting ready for a horse race the next week. The flags are for each of the 14 provinces? which enter the horse race. The race track we saw, and it is crazy! It goes right around the main plaza, and everything is stone and narrow. Dangerous! I'm sure a thrill to watch.
We vacationed in Tuscany this summer. Great food, beautiful hill towns and landscape, and the aqua green mediterranean sea. We had a house in the hills about 20 minutes by car from Piombino, the port city close to the island of Elba. Our house was all the way at the top of a mountain up a very bumpy dirt road. I got pretty good driving the road - by the middle of the week I was pulling the parking brake to get the back end of the car to slide during a turn. Anika was scared the first 5 times, but then she got into the trill. I only kind of crashed once a little bit into a thorny bush, but still on the road!
Every other day we went to the beach. Our favorite beach was on the other side of a pine forest. For a couple of days there was even some wind swell big enough to body surf. The water was waist deep and warm for maybe 100 meters. So pretty mellow beach. Just off the beach was a outdoor restaurant which had great panini, pasta's, etc. The italians just know how to eat! The restaurant also played great beach music - mostly a mix of reggae music. Very chill.
The little hill towns in Tuscany are very beautiful. They are real medieval cities, stuck on a hill top with winding passages through the town. And although the towns a clearly oriented to tourism real people live in the towns. In America I often heard the story about someone visiting their italian grandmother in the village of their parents. Well these are the towns the grandmothers come from. Really little has changed in these towns for 100s of years. In general the towns were in superb shape, clean and well maintained. Not at all a bad life these grandmothers lead!
We took some trips around Tuscany and visited Pisa and Sienna. Pisa is well worth the visit, and not only because of the leaning tower. Actually the church and baptisterium in Pisa are quite amazing, and wouldn't need the leaning tower to attract visitors.