We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
October is the best time of the year to visit Italy. The weather is cooler (low 70s), tourist crowds are way down except in Rome, the vineyards are turning golden yellow, and prices are off-season. Very cheap deals at elegant places to stay. Just try to stay out of the hospitals because that is no picnic.
Best thing of all: it is truffle season. Every decent place to eat had at least one truffle item on the menu, and we brought home two truffle pecorinos for Thanksgiving. Our lovely place outside Montepulciano (Villa Poggiano) put up a chalk board of things they would arrange for you to do each day. One of them was truffle-hunting. (Among others were a cooking class, horseback riding along the back dirt roads, and a rental Ferrari for 4 hours).
I declined the truffle hunt because you have to pay but of course you don't get to keep the black truffles. Also, I do not trust myself with a Ferrari although I do enjoy driving around rural Tuscany (in daylight only). We did happen to see a truffle hunter with his dogs on one of our own back-country hikes on which we got happily lost. I always have a half-roll of toilet paper in the bottom of my Osprey daypack. Who does not?
An American honeymooning couple at our place did everything on the list during their stay. Ah, youth.
As we drove around southern Tuscany looking at various hill towns and things (MapQuest got us everywhere), we stopped by a Roman bath, Bagno Vignoni. We had a nice light lunch there, pecorino ravioli with black truffle. Roasted root veggies on the side. That's Italian! I doubt that you have ever seen so many truffle slices in the USA. Naturally, I had a glass of Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. Fine for the purpose and helpful for driving confidence.
A few more pics, and a truffle hunting vid below the fold -
Hilly hiking through wheat fields, southern Tuscany. From wheat fields to woodlands to vineyards to olive groves. I call it Disney Tuscany because it all feels unreal.
The comfortable sitting room in our suite at Viila Poggiano
Truffle hunter had two kennels on his vehicle for his small truffle dogs - not sure what breed but any dog can be trained
Folded 8-sheet units of TP in a ziplock bag for me. Three or four in the dayhike pack (companions are often unprepared--guess they weren't Boy Scouts), one per day plus a couple in the backpacking rig. Takes less space that way.