The gang has plans, and they fill me in when I’m done working out. A trip to the village of Certaldo—about twenty minutes away—and a ride up a funicular to the 13th century Etruscan-era town high on the hillside. The funicular portion makes me hesitate. Just how high is it—and is walking an option?
Walking is, though it’d be hot and steep—and the ride, I’m assured is only a couple of minutes.
Okay then, we’ll give that a try.
The drive’s nice. The opposite way from where we came in, so new views of vineyards climbing and hills doing their rise and fall. We squeeze through what we’re calling the ghost town. Lots of buildings, no people and wind and turn our way—our two-car caravan—to Certaldo and a car park.
After a bit of time, we reason out the pay box, opt for the 8 Euro full day deal as the hourly rate’s just too complicated for us.
A short walk to the ticket office and the funicular—mask up, collapse the stroller and pile on the already crowded car.
This is Griffin’s favorite part of the journey. We go up, up, up!! And it really does only take a couple minutes, which is great for Nana as this is NOT her favorite part of the journey.
Worth it. Beautiful old buildings with portions of failed stucco revealing old brick. Brick streets so narrow we’re surprised to see a few cars. But people live here, work here at the restaurants, the museums—and yippee!—the gelato place.
I love the pots of flowers hung right on the brick like art or in window boxes—and more pushing their way to the sun right out of the brick street. It’s steep, and obviously chosen for defense rather than convenience.
The palazzo museum—our goal—isn’t open yet, so why not lunch? We choose a sweet little place with tables right on the skinny sidewalk. And on a steep slope.
Our server’s young, pretty and speaks excellent English. It’s a fine way to while away the time for the opening hour, cool off a bit—it’s very hot again—and sit under half umbrellas—they butt right up against the side of the building—with a solid blue summer sky above.
People climb by as we eat, most with kids—so likely tourists like us—or with dogs—maybe locals.
There are big, old wooden doors, most with intricate detailing, more flowers pushing their way under red tile roofs. And quiet.
When we finish, our server asks where we’re from, and we learn she’s from right there. It’s quiet, we say, and she agrees. Yes, quiet, and boring.
And I expect it is for a young woman, as life is likely that quiet and work most of the time.
On we go to the palazzo with its clock tower and flairs. Inside it’s lovely and fascinating with frescos, painted ceilings, steep steps, a dungeon!—A small dungeon that must’ve been very depressing. The governor’s private chapel, with saintly frescos.
There’s a screen with a video on a loop of a festival in Certaldo, and it looks like a crazy, fun time. I hope our pretty server enjoys that when it comes around.
There’s a garden courtyard outside, and we set up a group panorama, and climb some skinny, steep stairs to what might’ve been a battlement. Wonderful views, and no hint of invading forces.
More steps up to an art gallery, and down into an echoing little church with a tabernacle, frescos—one of which Jason dubs Bluebeard, because he has one.
Our time there turned into pretty much a private tour, which made it only more enjoyable. quiet is definitely the word of the day.
Out we go and down the steep brick street for a stop for gelato. Kayla opts for the cola-flavored Italian ice and Jason for a tropical-flavored—which he says tastes like it looks.
We finish our treats before we go in to wait for our ride down. Much less crowded on the return trip, just us and a family with two little girls. Griffin also enjoys the down part, and gives the girls the eye (sort of like a teenage boy might eye a couple of pretty teenage girls, pretending he’s NOT looking).
We drive back—and the boy falls asleep in the car. Kat sits with him as he takes his well-earned nap.
Kayla’s back at Mario, and chalks up a thirteen #1 winning streak on her races. When Griffin wakes, Jason and Kat join her for some competition.
We’ve decided on Pop’s Pancakes for dinner. This is my father’s recipe, handed down generations. We believe we have everything necessary to make this happen, as it was on the potential menu for awhile.
I discover my gang has picked up condensed rather than evaporated milk —it calls for both regular and evaporated. Hmm. Kat googles, and finds I can use about half the condensed and add more regular to substitute.
There are no measuring cups or spoons in this kitchen. One big measuring pitcher, so eyeballing is required for the dry ingredients. And that’s when we discover the box of baking powder we’d previously seen in the pantry does not contain baking powder packets (how it comes here) but pretty little drink umbrellas. Who would hide drink umbrellas in a baking powder box? We are displeased with them.
And this is a problem.
Once again, Jason comes to the rescue by driving to the grocery store (which isn’t around the corner).
Meanwhile Kat preps strawberries, blueberries, makes bacon.
We find a big enough pan—I’d normally use a griddle—for cooking the pancakes.
Jason returns, and we estimate 3 heaping teaspoons as about one and a third packet. Here’s hoping.
Heat the pan, ladle in the batter—I can do three at a time if I’m careful with the flip. I make strawberry, blueberry and plain.
We have the butter and syrup to go with them. Kat makes me a pretty little fruit bowl of strawberries and apricots, and a little bacon sandwich since I’m not a big pancake eater (sorry, Pop!)
They are a success!! I think Kayla ate three—don’t know where she puts it. And if we make them again, we’re better prepared.
Another glorious sunset to cap off dinner.
During clean-up, the kitchen island becomes a race track for Griffin. I get a car and join. Kayla sits at the island and becomes part of the course. Jason and Kat time the laps to avoid crashing the drivers while they do the dishes.
Then Kayla begins to call the race, which is thrilling for the boy. The police car wins!
Again, the boy says, and we’re off.
Grandda joins about the time Griffin’s decides both his cars should fall off the cliff on each lap. Oh no! Try again, and hilarity. More hilarity when Grandda takes the red car and drives it off the cliff. Now it’s screaming hilarity. Again and again.
Our boy is pretty easily amused.
It’s beyond bedtime, so Kayla gives the one-more-lap warning. He draws that one out, gives a subtle attempt at another. But when Mom and Dad scoop him up, he retires from the field gracefully.
I take my last glass of wine outside to enjoy the gorgeous night, then also retire from the field.
A pretty morning, and Chain Saw Man’s building something down there. I think I see a small structure in the trees, but it’s too far away to be sure. But the sound of building carries up.
Work out time approaches. I’m going to see if anyone else is up and about.