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Tuscany with a navigator (end).

August 30, Thursday.

    The next day we went to North Tuscany again. First, our path lay in Lucca (Lucca). Unlike most cities in Tuscany, Lucca lies on a plain. Vovka definitely led us to the parking lot at one of the city gates - Porta San Pietro.
  The most important advantage of Lucca is the city walls. Erected in the 16th-17th centuries, they surround the city in a ring, the total length is about 4 km. The Viale delle Mura Urbane walking path runs along the top of the walls, planted with trees, very picturesque and beautiful. Walking along the city wall, you can enjoy the magnificent views of Lucca to your heart's content, which we did with pleasure.


    Once they descended from the walls and went deeper into the city. We did this to get closer to the Cathedral of San Martino, with its asymmetrical façade and adjoining five-tiered Campanile.
  We returned to the wall, walked along the shady path a little more with pleasure, returned to the car and drove on. Pistoia was waiting for us.
  As usual, we parked the car at the entrance to the historical part of the city. Somehow we quickly walked through the streets and went to the main square of Piazza del Duomo. Here, several large palaces overlook the square, but the main decoration is still the Cathedral of Cattedrale di San Zeno and Battistero di San Giovanni in Corte.
  The octagonal Baptistery is not as lavishly decorated as, for example, the Pisa one, but no less impressive.
Opposite the Baptistery is the Duomo with a campanile. The tower was built in Romanesque style and rises to a height of 67 meters.
  We walked along the streets and returned to the car. Walking around Pistoia is very pleasant: picturesque houses, quiet lanes, in a word, a small town between medieval walls that has retained its provincial charm.
  Then we moved strictly south to the town of Vinci, the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci. We drove 40 kilometers along a difficult mountain road.
  And, of course, thanks to Vovka, we are at the goal - the Leonardo Museum, or rather it is called the Museum of Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci (Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci). Above the entrance to the museum is a fragment of the legendary Gioconda (only eyes).


    We spent a lot of time in the museum and it's worth it. Among the exhibits of the museum are wooden models of machines invented by Leonardo, built according to drawings from his notebook. These include a car, an armored tank, a machine gun. Indeed, you are amazed at the genius and at the same time the universality of Leonardo's knowledge and skills, and, most importantly, how many centuries he was ahead of his time!
  When leaving the museum, we find ourselves on an observation platform, in the center of which a monument was erected, made according to the famous drawing by Leonardo, displaying the ideal proportions of the human body. All three couples from our crew were photographed against the backdrop of the monument, trying to reproduce the picture.


   We wanted to have dinner in the Vinci area, but again fell into the siesta trap. We went home, on the way we dropped into Panorama, bought six magnificent fish (trout!), A mountain of seafood. The fish was baked in foil and again they had a belly feast on our veranda to the clink of glasses filled with Chianti Classico. Better than any restaurant!

August 31, Friday.

   The last full day in Tuscany was very eventful. First, we drove along the already tested road to Voltaire, left it aside and after a while parked in Colle di Val d'Elsa.
  This town consists of an upper town and a lower town. We left the car in the parking lot in the lower city and started to climb up to the upper, old city. We walked over the bridge and through the Palazzo Campana, which serves as the city gate, we went to the old city. The city seemed to us elongated along one street. We walked first in one direction, then returned back to the car and drove on.
  We passed Monteriggioni. They didn’t stop by the city itself, but this ring-shaped citadel looks very impressive and beautiful from the road.
  We left Siena aside and, having driven another 40 kilometers, parked the car in Montalcino.
The city, nestled on top of a hill, seemed to stop in time on narrow, steep, winding streets. The impressive bastions of Fortezza (Fotezza), erected by Cosimo 1, rise above the city.
  Under the walls of the Fortezza is the famous enoteca, which sells the famous red wines Brunello di Montalcino. Here we had a very understandable intention to replenish our wine stock. But, oddly enough, the tasting of the local wine was not impressive, and we postponed our intentions to the next wine city - Montepulciano.
  But on the way we first stopped at the small town of Pienza. At first glance, this is a quiet, provincial town. But it turns out that there was an attempt to build an ideal city. In 1405, in this village, which was then called Corsignano, was born Enea Silvio Piccolomini, one of the most educated people of the early Renaissance. In 1458, he became Pope Pius II, and the very next year he commissioned the architect Bernardo Rosselino to turn his native village into an ideal city.
   But his grandiose plan did not advance beyond the dozen buildings surrounding Piazza Pius II.
  And the town is very pleasant, quiet clean streets, cozy nooks and crannies.
  Then our path lay in the famous wine town of Montepulciano, stretching along a narrow ridge at an altitude of 605 m above sea level. Its streets are lined with palazzos and churches, but the town is best known for its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
  But even here we were disappointed. After going through several enoteca, tasting more than a dozen varieties, we could not choose something worthy to replenish our wine stock. Firstly, the taste and color ... Well, then everyone knows!
Secondly, Montepulciano was unlucky with us. And the town is pleasant, but we were haunted here by the feeling that we had already seen it. Still, it's been a week in Tuscany and, probably, some kind of satiety has set in.
  Probably the same with wine. Well, we didn't like Vino Nobile after Chianti.
  And one more puncture. Wanted to try pizza, fell into a restaurant on a tourist trail. And there's pizza... No, it's anything but pizza.
  In short, we were unlucky in Montepulciano.
  We went to the base and had a farewell dinner on the veranda, having finished all the stocks of Chianti.

September 1, Saturday.

   Today we say goodbye to Tuscany.
  We had breakfast for the last time on our veranda, warmly said goodbye to Marco, plunged into the minivan and under the vigilant eye (screen?) Vovki headed for Bologna.
  By the well-known Fi-Pi-Li, this time with almost no traffic jams, we reached the suburbs of Florence, turned north and jumped onto the A1 expressway. About an hour later, having flown another 80 kilometers, we were already driving through the streets of Bologna (Bologna).
  The agency where we were supposed to receive the second car turned out to be in the north of the central part of Bologna. With the help of Vovka, having the exact address, we easily found this place.
  Soon we parked the gray Wolkswagen Passat Station next to the minivan, reloaded things, then everyone got back into the minivan and drove to the center of Bologna.
  We surprisingly quickly found a parking lot in the center and went for a walk.
  The city made a very favorable impression on us. The architecture of Bologna is characterized by the arched galleries of the first floor. We remember something similar in Swiss Bern. But in the center of Bologna, these galleries are everywhere. They say that their total length exceeds 35 km. In addition, the minimum height of the porticos was even set - 2.66 m - just the amount needed for the rider to pass.

    We especially liked the Piazza Maggiore with St. the tower squinted 1 m to the side, and the second - as much as 3.22 m.

   No matter how pleasant it is to walk around Bologna, we must move on.
  We returned to the car, turned on Vovka and tried to leave the center, but the traffic along this street is one-way, we have to move towards the center again. We start spinning along the narrow streets and ... then Vovka blundered: we fall into a trap. The fact is that in order to restrict traffic in the old part of the city, the entrance to many streets is blocked by low bollards with remote control: for the passage, the bollard is lowered, then rises again, blocking the passage. Naturally, there is no information about this in the navigator. Somehow we slipped onto one of these streets and now the road is blocked off on all sides by posts. We are confused.
  We turn to the nearest hotel, but either they can’t help, or they don’t want to. Finally, some driver saw our suffering and made a sign to follow him, held the post down and we jumped out of the trap. But what to do next? Vovka in such a situation not only does not help, but, on the contrary, is harmful. Spinning around the narrow streets in our minivan, oh, how not easy.
  Here the Commander literally grabs the hand of a girl passing by on a scooter and tries to explain our situation. Finally, the girl says "Ok!", makes a sign to follow her and takes off. The commander exhales "fasten your seat belts!" and flavors it with the already well-known escapade, almost rises, imitating riding either on a horse or on a scooter, and gives full throttle, rushing in pursuit of a very frisky girl on a scooter who disappeared around the corner.
  It was a ride worthy of shooting a super action movie. Our minivan, driven by the Commander, unthinkably fit into turns in narrow streets, literally in millimeters warmed up with oncoming cars.
  I turned on the navigator again to somehow control the road. But, apart from the monotonous "Change of the route!" at every turn, Vovka did nothing to help.
  Finally, when we once again caught up with the scooter, the girl waved her hand towards the exit to the wide street. We breathed a sigh of relief. Vovka also came to life and confidently commanded the direction of movement.
  Within a few minutes we were seated in two cars, according to the purchased tickets. Vovka with all his household migrated to the Passat.
  We left Bologna, agreeing to stop somewhere in a roadside cafe.
  With two cars we covered some 150 km, but even in this relatively short distance, we saw how right we were that we were traveling in one big car.
  We stopped at a roadside cafe a few dozen kilometers from Milan. This is where we had to split up. The commander with his fair half followed in a minivan to the Malpensa airport, where they had to hand over the car and left Italy. The remaining four crew members, already on the Passate, continued their journey through Italy north to the Lake Como region, but that's another story.

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