Onboard the trainUp early to clear up the flat, pack the huge range of stuff back into the suitcases, (how we got it all in is beyond me) and organise a taxi to the station

Predictably the call to the taxi service was a bit confused but it got straightened out. The taxi arrived on the dot of 8:45 and of course there was no traffic (on a monday morning, how do they do that) so we had lots of time to kill.

Anyway we found the train listed but no platform number. Someone with a poor sense of humour waited until there was only just enough time to get to the platform before putting it on the board. Then the train was late!

This trip was arranged with ATG Oxford and details are here

Transfered in pouring rain at Grosseto to a bus, one of the drivers mimed swimming out to the bus across the street which was filled with a huge puddle.

PitiglianoOur bus was filled with teenage(?) school children. The kids next to us were trying to give each other a tonsillectomy and the others, were made up and dressed to the nines! I'll start sounding like my parents soon so I'll stop there. The bus seemed to have it's own resident dirty old man who was approaching all the kids, they seemed happy about it but I suspect in NZ he'd be quickly locked up.

We finally arrived after an hour and a half on the bus trip. It was difficult to see where we had got to as the bus windows were well steamed up. Luckily I remembered the name of the hotel (the paperwork was in the baggage locker underneath) and chanced to see it as we went passed.

Jumping out and dragging our kit to the hotel we found it shut. Luckily there was an entry-phone and we were able to wake the hotel owner from her siesta and she greeted us in her dressing gown, after we'd rung the bell several times. Oops. Luckily she took the whole thing in good humour, but then since she only speaks Italian and I have no understanding beyond asking how to get to the bus stop, I could be mistaken. Any way the Auberge Guastini is an excellent hotel and the room was well appointed and scrupulously clean, the shower even squirts water up, an interesting change.

PitiglianoPitigliano is a fantastic spot, built on top of a ancient volcanic outcrop with three parallel (well sort of) streets and a myriad of twist lanes and alleys. Much colder here than in Rome, the first time we've needed our jackets and beanies all trip. We had a good look around, which took about an hour and were very impressed with the place. Give the new part of town a miss, it's the usual modern rubbish you get everywhere.

Drinks in a fantastic wine bar under the castle followed by meeting the ATG trip manager for probably the only time. She gave us some updates on the route and bought us a drink, always a good way to my heart.

Dinner was a splendid affair at Il Tufo Allegro in a building dug out of the 'tufa' rock. Hence the name I suppose - duh! Met an American couple, Michael and Linda who assisted with menu translation, they have a much better book and an actual understanding of the language.