Today we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast,

and then began our tour towards Siena and the Palio! We took the autostrade to the historic citi, found parking easily as the town was not yet tourist-filled.

Duke led us straight to the Square del Campo; the site of the famous Palio horserace. I was amazed at how short the round was...I truly think the horses, raised from birth to face their Italian destino, have 2 shortened inside legs...because it is all...lean, OMG lean more! Holy crappo! Leano moro!!! It's like they're getting ready to lie down for a nap albeit quite frenzied!

In the square, we watched a video of an actual race...the jockeys proudly displayed the colors of their families, rode bareback and raced for their lives! All of the honor is in winning...alas for the losers and even more alas for anybody unhorsed during the race. We watched in horror as one jockey fell from his horse. Thinking he was safe, the poor guy started to rise when the crash of flying hooves beat him back into the track! I’m not sure he was still breathing…we couldn’t tell from the video.

We walked for a little, but we are becoming homesick and tired of motion. We picked up a few souvenirs and then exited for the winding road back to our villa. The return journey opened upon such spectacular vistas that one Tuscan scene melted into another, the first more beautiful than a painting, the next moment taking away what breath you have left.

It's a source of never ending amazement that no matter where we are, mi Duca, can ferret out the most quaint, quiet spots for lunch...In the small, picturesque citi of Gaiole, he found a Ristorante on the side of a very steep hill.

We climbed up to the petunia-laden terrace...

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and enjoyed more Tuscan cuisine. AND Duke found a Pizza di Napoli (olives, lots of cheese, capers and anchovies) that reached a 9 on his pizzameter!

A bronze replica of the Chianti rooster proudly graces the town square

Andrea shared with us that in order to display this rooster on your label signifying that your wine is part of the Chianti region of Italy, you must pay someone...the Mafia? for the privilege. However, that knowledge didn’t stop us from savoring, resting, repasting and rerouting.

We returned to our little villa and climbed to our second story room where we enjoyed a small siesta. Andrea has recommended another place for dinner in the small town of Gambassi…it’s not far up the hill, but neither of us are sure we’re going to be hungry! But, we’ll give it our best shot! Tomorrow, we start making our way toward home, family and loved ones. Yahooooo!

Today we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, and then began our tour towards Siena and the Palio!