Subject: Re: Travel in Tuscany
Hello all:

Debbie in Pittsburgh is looking for suggestions for her 2006 annual winter trip to Tuscany, not a bad chore.

To touch all bases, especially for others who only get to come to Dallas on business, let me quickly mention the obvious suspects for day trips by train or bus: San Gimignano (which she mentioned), Fiesole, Pisa, and Siena.

One that is not so well kown is Arezzo, which is about an hour away from the Florence Santa Maria Novella (main) train station. We had a wonderful time there. In particular, there is a jewelry museum (the city is most famous for its jewely manufacture) which, has, among its other objects the prototype of a sword (spada) made for Saddam Hussein. The entry and tour is free, but the tour was only available in Italian. I am a fumbler in Italian, but between their skill in gesturing and mine in picking up bits and snatches, we got most of the information.

I have never driven in Italy (Texas drivers are nutty enough for me), but two hill towns that may be worth the trip are Montalcino and Montepulciano. Montalcino is famous for its brunello wine, whose prices have shot though the proverbial roof this past year (Piemonte's two premier wines, barolo and barbaresco used to command the highest prices, but this is no longer true and by a wide margin). However, I have heard that Montepulciano, whose vin nobile is also excellent, though apparently not in the same league as brunello, is the more scenic. I have not been to either.

Ira Dallas, Texas