Travel to Italy - August 19-20

On the morning after the ceremony, we got up early and went over to Andrea’s parents’ house for breakfast.  We had most of the families over for breakfast and to open the wedding presents from the previous night.  Andrea’s mom fixed a wonderful breakfast that included a hashbrown casserole and a french toast casserole among other dishes. 

After breakfast, we got loaded up and went to the airport in Des Moines for the flight to Rome.  The flight from Des Moines to Cincinnatti was short and uneventful.  We then got on the airplane for the long flight to Rome.  The Delta 767 that we were on did have one cool feature: when the in flight video was not showing, they displayed the location and orientation of the airplane on a map with the other vital stats like altitude, ground speed, and time to the destination. 

We arrived at the Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Rome at about 10:30 in the morning on the 20th after flying overnight.  Customs was much easier to get through than I expected but the Rome airport’s baggage system that estimated the bag arrival time wasn’t even close and our bags didn’t get out for nearly 20 minutes after the stated time. 

Once we had our bags, we went out to get our rental car.  The Rome airport has a rather bizarre design that had us feeling like we were snaking around in circles to get to the rental car counters.  Once we got our car paperwork taken care of, we had the Europcar rental desk call Greppi di Silli to get good directions since we only had a vague idea of where they were located at.  The directions were to take the A1 autostrade to the Firenze-Certosa exit, follow the signs to San Casciano, and then call for detailed directions.  So off we went.

The initial driving experience was rather intimidating because I was in an unfamiliar car (an Opel Meriva), and I was not familiar with the local signage or driving customs.  Despite all of the challenges, we quickly got out on the autostrade and headed north towards Florence.  Almost 4 hours later, we got to the Firenze-Certosa exit and started attempting to follow the signs to San Casciano.  We passed the Florence American Cemetary from World War II as we headed south, and just south of the cemetary, our lack of knowledge of the local road signage started popping up again.  We had a couple of misdirections before we ended up in San Casciano.

Of course, when we got to San Casciano, our T-Mobile cell phones that were supposed to be set up for use in Italy before we left were not yet working.  So we couldn’t call Greppi di Silli for directions.  We figured that the address for Greppi said Mercatale val di Pesa, so we decided to follow the signs to Mercatale.  Once we got to Mercatale, we set about finding someone who could tell us where Greppi was.  Being a Sunday, all of the stores were closed and there was almost no one on the street.  Thankfully we found a nice gentleman who, although he spoke no English, recognized Greppi and, after a quite a few hand gestures, had us follow him to Greppi.  Our thanks still go out to this man because we would have never found the agriturismo without his help.

Once we got to Greppi, Michel helped us get checked in and allowed us to use the computer to contact T-Mobile to find out why our phones weren’t working.  Fortunately they started working about 10 minutes after we got off the computer.  Michel then pointed us to a local restaurant called “I Toscany” for dinner.  The food was wonderful and I discovered what has become one of my new favorite dishes, prosciutto e melone.  After dinner, we went back to Greppi and crashed for the night after a long and tiring two days of travel.

Photos from the first day in Italy