Friday, April 16:  Leonardo Museum

For our final day we planned an easy morning in San Gimignano, at a private museum devoted to Leonardo daVinci. It contained full-sized, working models of many of the inventions described in his manuscripts and were meant to be worked by the visitors. There were various bearings, motion translators (rotary to reciprocating, etc.) and some more popular items like flying machines. Most of the models worked and the boys enjoyed pushing them to the limit. Their favorite was a crane with a rotary base and a water-powered, self feeding, sawmill (where kid-crank power was substituted for water power) that sawed an actual log. My favorite was a lever worked back and forth, driving alternately oriented ratcheted wheels and converting the motion to continuous rotary motion.

We grabbed an early light lunch and purchased a few items for upcoming birthdays, in addition to refreshing our panforte supplies. San Gimigiano was much more pleasant without the Easter-weekend crowds, though it started to jam-up around noon. A light rain also began to fall and increased through the afternoon.

Back at the hotel we did homework and took care of preparing for our next eight nights in four different locations. I took the boys for a swim at a public pool in Certaldo, only to discover that there was only about thirty minutes left before it closed for swim team practice. The boys were loaned swim caps to wear, though I suspect that they were noted more for wearing shorts (rather than Speedos).

David and I retrieved our laundry and mending, bought chocolate, Nutella and film at the Coop (a communist institution according to Giovanni) and located a full range of contact lens supplies at an optician’s (despite being told by the manufacturer before our departure that their products weren’t available in Italy). BS’ing with Chiara and Giovanni, I learned that the phones were only busted in some of the rooms (like ours), but were working in others. They gave me a room key for a vacant room and I did some much-needed email and web surfing. Turns out the phone works in the boys’ room.

We’d hinted, not very obliquely, that we’d enjoy lasagna for dinner, and tonight they made good on it. Pat ordered a white wine for dinner, and Giovanni presented her with a gift of another bottle of white, the local Vernacchia variety. I ordered Vin Santo for our final meal, and Giovanni brought out the marinated grapes when we lingered.

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Photo 35  Pat and Giovanni
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Photo 36  Il Latini Waiters
Albergo Latini has been an ideal home base for us. The rooms are comfortable, utilitarian and smartly configured. Not overdone, just perfect for our needs. The food has been spectacular and we have been able to easily travel to our various destinations. We’ve spent 10% of our trip here and will miss the assistance from Chiari in English, the easy, plentiful and delicious meals, and Giovanni’s social commentary at dinner. Giovanni and Chiara head back to Florence in July to open a new restaurant, Osteria di Giovanni, while the cousins will assume management of the Albergo and Ristorante here in Certaldo. Arrivederci, Tuscany.
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Photo 37  Albergo Latini and Vineyard
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Photo 38  Il Latini Restaurant Panorama
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Photo 39  San Gimignano from Grand Tower
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Photo 40  Venice from St. Giorgios