Subject: Our trip to Tuscany April 29-May 7
Hello Ziners,

These are my thoughts on our wonderful trip to Tuscany April 29-May 7 :

1. We stayed one week in a wonderful villa, Casetto di Volpaia, near the small village of Volpaia which is just a few miles from Radda in Chianti. The Villa had 4 bedrooms and was secluded in the middle of a vineyard. We rented the villa through Italian Vacation Villas, http://www.villasitalia.com and dealt with Martin. They did a fabulous job, and had excellent suggestions for travel guides and other helpful information. We were about 1 hour from Sienna and 1 hours to Florence. Two evening we had a wonderful cook prepare dinner at the villa, her name was Donika. It was very nice to stay in the villa and just relax for the evening!!!

2. If you are renting a car to drive in Chianti, it is definitely not the time to learn stick shift or for a refresher course in manual transmission. Most rental cars are manual transmission and Chianti is extremely hilly with a lot of "S" curves.

3. We had a wonderful 1 day wine tour of Montalcino (Brunello wines) and a day tour of Chianti with Monica Bernardoni at http://www.labottegadigiovannino.it She is extremely knowledgeable about wines and gives a wonderful tour. A "tasting" luncheon at her wine bar in Radda was excellent.

4. We traveled to San Gimignano on May 1, a holiday. That was a mistake as it was very crowded and difficult to find a parking. We did not feel that the town is a "must-see".

5. Driving in Florence was a very trying experience as it was very difficult to find street signs, and the cars were constantly changing lanes. In the countryside the motor scooters/cycles were difficult to deal with as they often went between cars.

6. We stayed a wonderful hotel in Florence that was 3 blocks from the train station- Santa Maria Novella Hotel http://www.hotelsantamarianovella.it We ate at a restaurant in Florence that was one of the best we have ever eaten: Ristorante La Giostra on Borgo Pinti several blocks from the Duomo. Not only was the food and atmosphere outstanding-the owner/chief was a "real character".

7. Two websites I fond very useful were: Trip Advisor for information on hotels http://www.tripadvisor.com/, and Slow Travel, http://www.slowtrav.com/

Steve Ohio