This morning was great... beautiful weather and a quick breakfast at Cosona apartment, packing up the Fiat Large, and then crossing the road to the main villa to say goodby to our hostess--a very interesting experience. They live in the huge 400 year old villa... we were staying in the converted, old olive pressing building. The villa has a huge courtyard, statues, well head, masonry dog house and even a tower. She led us past room after room in this vast place with 16 foot tall ceilings... overall the look was chic but lots of deferred maintenance. Amazingly, her "office" was a teeny phonebooth-size closet with laptop, phone and credit card machine. Huh? What a waste of what we would call a castle. I would want an office fit for a Duke if that were my villa.
After leaving Cosona, we drove further north in Tuscany toward Agriturismo Mormoraia a former convent (thus the name meaning The Whispers) turned into a B&B agriturismo complex with their own vineyards, winery, olive oil, tasting room (the cafe below our apartment) and pool. We selected this apartment because the rooms have million dollar views of San Gimignano's raised towers and the vineyards.
So, I punched in the pre-programmed favorite on Tommy (our Tom Tom unit with Italian maps) and off we went. (I had programmed Tommy full of everyplace we were staying or needed to go along with dozens of points of interest). As we drove through the Tuscan landscape we passed more hills, valleys, gorges, bridges, hilltowns and then vineyards galore as got further north. We got there... passing by San Gimignano's towers... we thought we were there... but no. The place was deserted. It sort of looked right... pool, view. But, no. This isn't it... no matter how Tommy insisted in his robot voice.
We pulled over and checked the emails... the confirmations. We tried texting. I phoned but got an Italian robo-voice telling me that it was not working. We asked a carabiniere for directions... she was wrong. Lisa suggested using the GPS to find the last road in the written directions. We found it--a narrow gravel hill that sloped down into a valley--and started to drive down into it, about half a mile. When I came upon deep tractor ruts molded into the hard clay soil, I decided to back out. Our little Fiat didn't have enough ground clearance. With nowhere to turn around, I shifted the Italian-made transmission into reverse (lots rougher than the stick-shift in the one we test drove in the States), and started backing out. At this point, Lucas and Lisa were both melting down and the stress level in the Fiat was thicker than the bolognese I had last night! Babbo (Italian for Daddy) screwed up. Impossible! Sorry guys.
We actually went back to San Gimignano to go through the step by step directions one by one... and finally found it! As it turns out, their lat/long coordinates were off by 1-1/2 kilometers. And when I mentioned their staff later on, they didn't seem to care and were barely apologetic.
In typical Italian fashion, the reception office was closed for lunch until 3pm! Great. It was only 2 pm. I had a stressed out Mom and a melted-down, grumpy, hot, tired, hungry kid on my hands. I got out the remains of our last fridge's contents from our cooler and slapped together a fool's lunch: two kinds of cheese, sliced tomatoes (happy that I brought my French Laguiole Picnic Knife in the carry-on), some cookies and bottled orange sparkling water. We sat under this beautiful shady arbor on the grounds and refueled.
In short order we all were back to normal. We checked in and saw the amazing view out our windows. The WiFi stinks, the TV is not working, but is has clean beds, kitchen, a laundry across the courtyard (more on the laundry later). The place is pretty fancy to be honest... tailored--not really our taste but catering more to pseudo wine snobs. As it turned out, there was a considerable extra fee if we wanted a tour of the winery, the vineyards or to see how they made olive oil. In reality, the bottle Lisa bought from Mormoraia (what? No free samples?) was terrible and acidic.
Interesting that although they make their own wine and olive oil, we were given no samples... and the kitchen didn't even have any olive oil and was missing pantry essentials. No cutting board? No chef's knife? Cosona was much more accommodating--in typical B&B fashion, they supplied us with all kitchen essentials, coffee, sugar, salt, spices, olive oil, etc. This place feels more like a hotel looking to make money at every turn. Restored and designed for la touristi. We discovered later that the owner lived in a large city in the north and only spoke to his staff by phone.
Anyway, I hope the WiFi sticks around long enough to post this... then off to San Gimignano to see the towers close-up and to have dinner. But still, Mormoraia is centrally located to head out to discover the Tuscan countryside, Pisa, Florence and more...