We thought that the next bit of the trip would not be easy, but would be okay. We had to get to Villa Santa Andrea, ostensibly 16km from Florence. The plan was to catch a bus to San Cascione, and then get a taxi. The bus dropped us off in a ghost town - it was 1.30pm - siesta time. We had late lunch in a café, then searched for a taxi. As far as I could ascertain, there weren't any. After my two unsuccessful attempts at asking, Helen had a go. She emerged, after 10 minutes, from a bar and announced that "A taxi will be here in 5 minutes!"
We were expecting the local Claude Greengrass, but a sparkling black Mercedes arrived. The owner stung us €30 to go the last 6km to Villa Santa Andreas. When we arrived, it looked like we might have problems. The establishment is set up for cars, and, despite the blurb saying that the accommodation is 2km from the nearest village, we were in a farm house 4km away! The "concierge", Julia, took Helen and our luggage in a van, and then returned for me.
The "apartment" in the 300-year-old farm house was really nice, and the 360° views from the house were spectacular. In the late afternoon, we walked 3.5km to the village of Sambuca. The only trattoria was closed, but we were able to stock up on food. We were both very tired after the return trip up the hill. We showered, and then set up our evening meal of antipasto, with a bottle of chianti, by the pool.
The next morning, we slept in (~8.30am), and hung out by the pool. A growing number of fellow guests arrived (~20 in all). In the late afternoon, we walked down through the vineyards, through the forest and up the hill to the main buildings. We had a bit of an adventure getting down the side of a hill where there was no path. Julia was a bit disconcerted when we told her, because of vipers off the paths. We met Andreas Stopponi, brother of Giancarlo, in Surabaya. We got two bottles of Santa Andreas chianti to carry back.
Some other guests had claimed the table by the pool, so I set up another, that I noticed in the shed, above the pool. We had a lovely meal and a bottle and a bit of chianti before bed. After 10:30pm, I was woken by an Italian guest talking loudly on her handphone outside our window. Later on, she and her three companions woke us again with their thumping around upstairs.
We walked the recommended path back to the main buildings the next morning. We mounted two of the three mountain bikes that functioned and headed into the hills. The ride was excellent even though we each had use of only three of the twelve possible gears. At one stage, we had to cruise from the top of the hills down to motorway level. Our hands were nearly paralyzed from gripping the handbrakes. At the bottom, the map indicated a right turn. After about a kilometre, a look at the map showed that we were too far south and had to turn back.
We located our target, Bargino, and spent 20 minutes in the grocery buying food for the remaining two days. We sat outside at the trattoria "Da Bule" and had a nice lunch. As we were finishing, seven of the locals, who had dined inside, parked themselves two metres from us and started on their afternoon coffee and sambucca, and, of course, cigarettes. A couple of them moved further away when they realised they were annoying us.
We rode back to the bottom of the ascent back to Santa Andreas. We had to walk some of the way because the bikes wouldn't go into the lowest gears. After purchasing another bottle of chianti, we trekked back to the farm house.
I did our washing in the world's slowest machine - even when it eventually finished, you have to wait 5 minutes before you could open the door and retrieve the washing. The rest of the afternoon was spent by the pool, by ourselves. Helen cooked some pasta, and made a salad for dinner. We had it by the pool again, overlooking the valley.
Another sleep in was followed by a casual breakfast, and then a walk up the hill. Less than a kilometre away was another "agriturismo" place, in a huge, old farm house. We hung out by the pool and in our rooms for the day. In the evening, I fired up the bbq and cooked some sausages for me and eggplant for Helen, which we had with salad and chianti by the pool.