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Piacere di guidare
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Discussion Starter · #41 · (Edited)
Thanks for the kind words and congrats on your own 1,000th post, Nate. When I told The Spousal Unit that I had saved my post count so that Delivery Day was #1,000, there was the typical eye-rolling and muttered comments about misplaced priorities.

Everyone above scored correctly that Lisa Gherardini, later Mrs. Francesco del Giacondo, sat for the portrait the world knows today as The Mona Lisa. It was pretty cool to take the BMW's picture in front of her ancestral home in Chianti country. Unfortunately for the posters above, our own skywalkerbeth answered me correctly via direct e-mail within a few minutes of the original posting. There must be some correlation between being a corporate attorney and the amount of free time one has on their hands to surf the interweb. Maybe a topic for a different thread.
 

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HerrDoktorProfessor
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Er, uh, I responded to an EMAIL. I didn't see this post until later. :D
I hereby declare shenanigans!
I will accept my 5 points and glass of wine at your earliest convenience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
The e-mail went out perhaps five minutes before the question was posted here on the Fest, and Beth beat the first responder here by something like 3 1/2 hours. No shenanigans here...
 

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The e-mail went out perhaps five minutes before the question was posted here on the Fest, and Beth beat the first responder here by something like 3 1/2 hours. No shenanigans here...
I don't think e-mail is count here. :tsk:
Stop looking for excuses! :eeps:
 

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
Two peas from the same pod, huh? If it was incredibly filthy, despite the heavy rain in Munich the night before, it was undoubtedly mine. Stessed a little because the Log-In-Out staff forgot they had agreed to be there at 0900 Saturday to accommodate my flight schedule, but the actual turn-in process took seven minutes start-to-finish. I guess it can be accelerated a bit when the customer is standing there with steam coming out of his ears. Made the BA flight with time to spare.
 

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Piacere di guidare
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Discussion Starter · #49 · (Edited)
I don't anticipate a fee since they blew the appointment time. Congratulations on your discerning choice of vehicle and exterior color. What color interior and trim?
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 · (Edited)
Driving the short hour or so across the Val di Chiana from Siena to Cortona was a little like going home: familiar surroundings, friends happy to see us, and things we already know are going to be fun.

This is the fourth time we've visited Cortona, in the southeastern part of Tuscany near the border with Umbria and on a high hill that looks out over the valley and with Lake Trasimeno in the distance. Which means we've been here every time we've visited Italy. It's actually my favorite place in the whole country. It just has that "at-home" feeling about it.

Our headquarters is the wonderful Hotel Villa Marsili, just outside the walled part of the town. Hotel Director Stefano and front desk staffers Iulia and Luanna were all on hand to greet us and Iulia had stayed after the end of her shift for a special hello/goodbye because she was leaving on a vacation of her own the next day. We shared a bottle of the Chianti we had brought from Greve and spent a nice couple of hours catching up.

People have been coveting this hilltop since the Etruscans first pushed the Umbrians off it nearly 3,000 years ago. In fact, the stones in the lower part of the city wall were put there by the Etruscans. But it was author Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun that originally brought us here back in 2000, and has since turned the place into a real tourist mecca - something we're not exactly thrilled about.

The place seems full of Brits and Americans, which makes the process of interacting with the locals harder. But the good news is that as a hilltown, it's not getting any bigger and there's no chance of a Walmart opening nearby.

It's also a great base for driving the open, rolling Tuscan hills that a trip here at this time of year is all about. And with the weather finally fully cooperating and the top town, cruises to Montalcino and Montepulciano were every bit as tasty as the wine we sampled both places. Maybe moreso.

The Brunello that comes from the fully 140 producers that surround the tiny town is at the top of the ladder of Italian wines, right up there with Barolo. We were lucky enough to taste with a producer at Villa dei Barbi and although he let us know that the bottle of '03 vintage we bought would be even better in five years, it didn't even survive another five days before the cork got pulled. It really epitomized the term "elegant" you often hear ascribed to other reds. Wow.

After a drive to the outskirts of town to re-visit Frances Mayes's Bramasole which we'd first seen 11 years ago, on impulse I turned through the old wall at Porta Colonia, intending to drive the maybe ¼ mile through town. A local waved me down before I made a complete fool of myself by driving through the "vehicle restricted" part of town. But that meant I had to negotiate the residential part of town high up the hill, which we're not too familiar with, in a 414-horsepower highway-shredder, on stone-paved streets really made for pedestrians and the occasional donkey. Pretty, um…...... exciting.

Want to go for a drive?
http://youtu.be/LHaUzG_S7hY
http://youtu.be/tmAEHR6okrI

The key to today's pictures:
Cortona, on her hill.

Karen and I share some Chianti with Villa Marsili's Iulia and Stefano, who Karen calls "my Italian husband". He's happily married, with a little girl 18 months, so I'm not too threatened.

As the M3 gets dirtier, the pictures need to be taken from farther and farther away. This is in our traditional photo spot in front of Villa Marsili.

Karen needed this "Amazing Race" moment with a giant hay bale.

Moments like this are what I signed-on for.

T U S C A N Y…......

Sumptuous breakfast spread at Villa Marsili.

Frances Mayes's Bramasole, and the story that surrounds it, have turned Cortona into a tourist destination.

View from Cortona into the Val di Chiana with Lake Trasimeno in the distance.

We met a nice Dutch couple who had bought this great wine estate near Cortona and drove out to see it.
 

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I don't anticipate a fee since they blew the appointment time. Congratulations on your discerning choice of vehicle and exterior color. What color interior and trim?
:) I got black interior with aluminum trim. Very satisfied with both considering I had not seen them in person prior to picking up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #53 ·
A couple of things that the video doesn't really convey are firstly, how steep the streets are. The spot where I followed the white mini-pickup down the street was like driving out of my bedroom window. Secondly, Karen had the camera on its widest setting, about equivalent to 25mm in a 35mm camera format, meaning those walls were really close. When we got into the unfamiliar part of town, I started the NAV for directional help, and followed the Uscita Citta (city exit) signs when the NAV wanted me to turn through a solid stone wall. Quite an experience.
 

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A couple of things that the video doesn't really convey are firstly, how steep the streets are. The spot where I followed the white mini-pickup down the street was like driving out of my bedroom window. Secondly, Karen had the camera on its widest setting, about equivalent to 25mm in a 35mm camera format, meaning those walls were really close. When we got into the unfamiliar part of town, I started the NAV for directional help, and followed the Uscita Citta (city exit) signs when the NAV wanted me to turn through a solid stone wall. Quite an experience.
yep, I saw that, even comment to my wife - the are no left, the are no left [email protected]#$..:yikes:
And your wife comment -we almost hit mirror of parked car. brrrrrr
 

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Discussion Starter · #55 · (Edited)
We said goodbye to our friends at the Villa Marsili and left Cortona heading north through Arezzo and onto the A-1 Autostrada, past Florence and Bologna, stopping one night in Sirmione: a tiny town at the end of a long skinny neck of land that juts a couple of miles out into the waters at the southern end of Lake Garda, Italy's largest lake.

We stayed here three years ago and this time picked a little place in the old town, about a block from Scaliger castle with its Ghibbeline battlements on top. This is an unusual port fortification dating from the 13th century. We had time for a nice dinner at an outdoor place while throngs of tourists, mostly Dutch and German in this part of Italy, strolled by. A stroll out to the very tip of the peninsula revealed a 2,000 year old Roman villa ruin, just maybe once the home of the poet Catullus, who wrote about this place two millennia ago, proving that people are drawn to nice places forever.

Our turn-in date for the car in Munich was looming, so next day, we headed for the Alps, stopping for lunch with a favorite client in Bolzano. Crossing the mountains this time was a lot less dramatic than the Stelvio and Innsbruck was soon in the mirrors.

There's only a short stretch of unrestricted Autobahn between the Austrian border and the slow traffic of Munich, meaning it was my last chance to let the M3 stretch its legs. Unfortunately, a guy in a Mercedes wagon was stuck in the fast lane like a tick on a hound, and wouldn't move over to let me past, no matter what I or a local driver in another Mercedes wagon did. I saw a solid 120 mph, but had been hoping for considerably more.

It being our last afternoon, we decided to spend a little time in the heart of old Munich, so turned off the guidance and just followed the map to the middle of town. This is the historic Marienplatz, and we got to watch the antique mechanical marvel of the clock tower strike five with its jousting knights on horseback and dancing burghers - all mechanical animations. Way too many people for our liking, though, so two hours here was plenty. We spent our last evening in a nice hotel not far from the airport where the barman was Italian and was delighted to have a chance to speak some to us strangers. It was a nice last touch of Italy.

Everything got re-packed in our two rollaboard bags and we sweated out a missed appointment next morning at LogInOut at the airport. When the apologetic staff finally did show up, the turn-in process took about seven minutes instead of the normal thirty, and the easy walk to the terminal got us to the BA lounge in plenty of time to make the flight.

We both managed a few hours of sleep on the return direct flight from London to San Diego where we were met by our nine-year***8211;old niece, who was every bit as glad to see us as we were to see her.

The BMW is consigned on a ship sailing July 2 from Bemerhaven, that's due in Port Hueneme on July 27, meaning I may get it back in time for my annual blast up Pacific Coast Highway to Monterey for the big classic car weekend in mid-August. That would be a really nice cap to a great trip.

This whole European Delivery thing is pretty addictive, as the manufacturers meant it to be. I'm already hoping the economy improves enough to do another one sooner than three years from now ***8211; Karen's Volvo S80T6 could stand replacement***8230;...

Today's pictures:
Not a picture on the wall, but rather, the view out the window in Sirmione, looking toward the castle.

Purple bougainvillea have taken over this shop wall in Sirmione.

Through the looking, err, water glass at dinner in Sirmione.

Visiting American service families needed a photog for an action portrait near the Roman ruin.

Client Claudia joined us for lunch in Bolzano.

The back-breaking work of harvesting grapes on these steep slopes in Italy's mountainous Alto-Adige make the wine even more special.

The gothic architecture of Munich's Marienplatz was nice to see - once.

Was this really three weeks ago?

The papers and one key was all we had to leave with the shipping agent to get the car home. A total of 2,052 miles, a lot of dirt and dead bugs, but otherwise, not a mark on the car.
 

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HerrDoktorProfessor
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I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your ED posts and living vicariously thru both of your EDs. I have decided that I like your style of travel. Every day seems to end with a nice bottle of wine. Glad you didn't have an encore performance of the transmission gremlin.

July 26th can't come soon enough!
 

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Welcome back home. Maureen and I enjoyed meeting you and Karen in the most appropriate venue and taking delivery at the same time. I really enjoyed reading about your travels. Maureen said we should do Tuscany again, and maybe on next ED. :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #60 · (Edited)
Thanks to everyone for the kind words. My goal was really to take you all along on this trip, and if I at least gave those here who are considering an ED Adventure of their own a glimpse of what a driving trip in Europe can be like; and gave the veterans here a nostalgic smile because I made them recall some pleasurable aspect of their own trip, then I did what I set out to do.

This was definitely a more wine-centric trip than my previous ones have been, but that's the beauty of traveling in this wonderful part of the world: you can build your itinerary around whatever interests you because there's so much for every interest.
 
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