After Munich, we took an overnight train down to Florence, then another train to Arezzo and finally bussed it to the tiny, non-touristy hill town of Anghiari. It was kind of an ordeal. The overnight train ride was about 10 hours long. We got a sleeper car, but I’m pretty tall so I didn’t fit in my bunk. I probably slept two or three hours all night. We didn’t have seats, just bunks, and had two other German ladies in our room so I couldn’t really get up and do anything. Just kind of laid there, trapped in my undersized coffin all night with plenty of time to think. Probably won’t do that again.
Once we got to Florence the next morning and transferred to our Arrezo-bound train, those crazy Italians let us get on a section of the train they had planned to take to the garage for maintenance (not indicated via any signage…). There was no one else in our car, but fortunately there happened to be a native Italian who also spoke fluent English (which in Tuscany is apparently very uncommon) in the car behind us. The three of us were the only ones who ended up finding ourselves miles out of town stuck in the maintenance garage area. Our new best friend who guides tours of France for English speakers for a living managed to find the train conductor and get into a heated debate about why the three of us had found ourselves in this predicament. Apparently the decision had been made after we got in the cars that those were in need of maintenance and were to be diverted. Fine, but they probably should have sent someone to walk through the cars before sending them miles outside of the city for maintenance. Our new best friend managed to get us all a cab and we made it back to the train station in a mere two hours after our original departure… I’m not sure what we would have done without him, as the train conductor seemed to speak zero English and we had no functioning phones with which to call a cab. I offered to pay for the cab ride but he insisted covering it: “I am embarrassed for my country. This is not possible. I will write letters, make phone calls, get this money back and make certain this doesn’t happen again. This is not possible…” Nice guy.
Anyway, we finally made it to our final destination of Anghiari at about 3pm, 18 hour after we’d stepped aboard the overnight train in Munich the night before. Fun fun fun. Anghiari was beautiful though. We stayed for a full week in a duplex that had been recently renovated by this (former) American who now owns two other places and permanently lives in Anghiari.
As far as booze goes, the region best known for producing Chianti was not far away from here so we saw a lot of that available in grocery stores and restaurants. Besides an overabundance of Peroni, beer definitely wasn’t high on Italy’s priority list. Honestly I thought that would equate to me seeing more vineyards than I did. It seemed like there were more olive trees than grape vines in the area. Our little condo came stocked with a bottle of limoncello in the freezer. Have you tried this stuff? I have a friend who makes this at home here in Minneapolis. From what I understand, it’s essentially Everclear mixed with lemon juice and sugar. Best served directly from the freezer, on ice. Delicious. My wife didn’t like it, but I made a point to get through most of the bottle over the course of the week. A good after-dinner drink.
In the absence of beer, most brewing in Italy clearly happens in coffee “bars.” We had plenty of lattes every morning made with smooth espresso. Lots of great pastries too. Most that I tried included Nutella, a hazelnut-chocolate blend kinda like chocolate peanut butter. Very good stuff.