We left Florence and drove through the wooded Chianti countryside. Usually a group of (fifteen) would travel in a mini-bus. However, because of COVID restrictions, we had a full-sized bus the entire time.  We stopped at the village of Greve and visited a meat and cheese shop. A marvelous pig was waiting for a picture outside. After seeing the Florentine beefsteak in the meat shop, we knew we needed to eat one somewhere in Tuscany. We poked around cute shops and Ellen bought some colorful toy tops. We also heard the story of the black rooster. To settle a boundary dispute between Florence and Siena, two knights planned to race their horses from opposite directions. The race started at the first cock crow. The white Siena rooster was well-fed and pampered while the black Florence rooster was ignored and given very little to eat. Because the poor black rooster was starved, it started crowing earlier and off went the winning Florence knight. Thus the Chianti Nero, the famous wine of the region was  born and guess what its logo is?

On one of our quick bus exits for a scenic picture, we learned how to tell male cypress trees from females. There were certainly plenty of cypresses in this area. Francine also picked up a special kind of pine cone and showed us how to shake it to get out pine nuts. 

We then toured the Verrazzano Castle which has been producing wine since 1150 A.D. The owner and her sister both in their nineties still greet visitors. In the past it took two men to clean each wooden vat and since the fumes from the wine were still very present, the workers would often be sound asleep in the vats.  

We checked into the Hotel NH Siena and immediately went for a guided tour. When we got to a steep decline of steps, Ellen froze and refused to go down. Instead we went for our Beefsteak Florentine - all 32 ounces of it at a lovely outside restaurant.