Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Montalcino - home of Brunello Wine

A late morning start was in order for the short drive to the village of the well known grape growing district of Montalcino. Montalcino is the home of Brunello wine and many tourists come here for the tasting of the local vino.
It's a lovely hilltop village, more easily walked than Montepulciano, meaning that it has less steps but still enough to open the lungs.
It seems every village in Tuscany involves steps, not something we are use to at home.
More steps of the up-kind.
Finally some decending!!!!
As we entered the village I saw some young women on bikes, how could I resist chatting with them and they did speak english. Well in a strange sort of way!!!! They were Canadian and American. How brave were they, the weather was a little damp and they rode from Montepulciano, via Pianza to Montalcino, just to taste the Brunello.

The steps always reward you with a view that makes it all worthwhile.
Our lunch was to die for but Sue will explain.
Leon had hand made and rolled pasta, picci, which is common to the region. He loved it.
I had wanted to try wild boar for ages and, being the right time of year, it was on the menu.
It was in a ragu and served with creamy soft polenta. Delicious.
Our waitress was a little concerned when I ordered the polenta and began to explain it to me. She was astounded when I told her that I cooked it at home in Australia. I don't think she thought it had travelled out of Italy, let alone to such an exotic place as Australia!

The waitress was marvelous and just chatted on endlessly when she discovered that we were Aussies. I have to admit that this seems to be common wherever we have travelled. Maybe its because we are so casual and open, and the Italians seem the same which makes good for some interesting experiences.
After sampling and buying some wine, we ambled on to the fortress which reminded me a little of the one on the shores of Lago Trasimino in Umbria. I think we could have sat there for ages if I had a good book to read. It was so tranquil.

Photo and text from Wikipedia
The first medieval walls were built in the 13th century. The fortress was built at the highest point of the town in 1361, on a pentagonal plan designed by the Sienese architects, Mino Foresi and Domenico di Feo. The fortress incorporates some of the pre-existing southern walls, the pre-existing structures including the keep of Santo Martini, the San Giovanni tower and an ancient basilica which now serves as the fortress chapel.

But it was time to move on and so we wandered back to Pienza, Sue's favorite Tuscan village to do some shopping for ingredients to match the wine we purchased.

Before retiring to our little villa in Monticchiello, we decided a glass of wine in the local bar would be a fitting tribute to "our" village. We chatted with the owner and during the conversation she mentioned she had a friend who recently married in Australia. Do all Italians have a friend or relative in Australia?
Sue rang our son Andrew to discover that he arrived in Moscow safely but the authorities were still to return his passport. More to come later about that.
Our time in Tuscany was drawing to an end before our next destination to Venice.

It really is a nice village, isn't it Leon - can we come back some time?

We leave you with this lovely wall of painted pottery.
Oh, by the way - on returning to Australia we located some Brunello which we decided to revive our memories through our palate, but at a premium. We discovered that Brunello is $65.00 a bottle here at home. (that was in 2006)

One more day before leaving Tuscany for Venice.


  1. Your comment about polento, and the explanation by the waiter, is similar to the reaction I get when I ask for my steak 'bleu' in France. They seem to think because I am English I should like it well done!!

    Great photos and I am still enjoying the tour. Diane

  2. Not sure about the Bleu, or is that Blurrr!!! Much prefer medium to rare with the juices flowing.
    Isn't it good that we are different?
    We are still enjoying the tour after it being 4 years ago. There's still 2008/2009/2010 to go and we are planning our 2010 trip to celebrate Sue's 60th. Where, France of course.

  3. Lots of steps in Lazio as well! Are you returning to Italy as well for the big birthday trip?

  4. LLM
    Writing about our 2006 experiences does make us consider returning to Italy - maybe Umbria and then north to the lakes district, then southern France to Spain.

  5. Do consider Northern Lazio and beautiful Lago Di Bolsena then :) Fly into Roma and drive north you will pass through this unspoilt fairly undiscovered region en route!

  6. Something to consider - Sue does the research and planning and me, the driving. We enjoy the "Slow Travel"method.


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