Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Montepulciano - Tuscany

Now let's see, where were we last Wednesday - Oh yes, I remember, Pienza! Our our trip in 2006 was the first overseas trip together in more than twenty years of Marriage. With four trips to France (and Italy) in that time, we wonder why we didn't travel earlier. Easy answer - money and children. Our holidays were limited to a day's drive away to such places as Lakes Entrance in Gippsland.

Before entering the village of Montepulciano, we took in the map located in the car park.
Sue was not looking forward to the climb and many, many steps that were in front of us.
Back to the story, Pienza is between Montepulciano and Montalcino in the Val d'Orcia, both which are hilltop villages. Our hostess Barbara lives in Montepulciano - check out her website

Montepulciano is located to the east of Pienza and was only a 30 minute drive from our little villa in Monticchiello.
As in most hilltop villages, only the locals can bring their cars behind the walls so we had to park the car in one of the surrounding car parks outside the walls. At Montepulciano the first lot of steps into the village from our car park was a lung busting climb but once into the village it was worth the effort.

We needed to climb the steps into the village proper.

The streets level out at the top of the village but we needed a rest and popped into a cafe where we had our very first Italian hot chocolate, so thick that the spoon stood upright. Cioccolato Caldo....Yum.
The recipe:
We didn't have Internet back in Monticchiello so we decided to find an Internet cafe in Montepulciano but had to wait for it to open after their very sensible lunchtime break. Here at home I usually have a sandwich at my desk, although I do admit that I now enjoy going out at lunch time with a book and following the Euro lunch habit.

And still, onward and upward.
We were first in at the Internet cafe when the doors opened and were welcomed by a nice Italian man who was most helpful. As we sat there sending news back home, a very loud American woman announced over the top of our conversation with the manager that she needed to ring the US.

But it was worth it to enjoy the many outdoor gardens lining the paved streets.
She wanted to call home but didn't have any Euro to pay with. She said, "But don't you take real money", meaning dollars and cents.
Yes, we have them also from Australia - the ugly tourist.

One of the things we most enjoy is sitting in a piazza with an espresso or a vino and watching the world pass by. Montepulciano was no exception to this. The sun was shining and the local red was Bellisimo.

Not to mention these lovely clay wall hangings.
For more photos of Montepulciano, check out this sight - the village is to be the scene of a movie soon.

Since returning back to Australia from our 2006 trip we discovered we could buy a Montepulciano wine but later discovered it was not from the area around the idyllic hilltop village of the same name. There is also a grape variety of the same name grown in the Abruzzo district. Montepulciano d'Ábruzzo is available here in Melbourne and is a full bodied red that is very enjoyable with pasta or a meat dish. The wine that we really did enjoy comes from across the valley from Montepulciano at Montalcino.  It's the famous Brunello, but more about that in a future post.

It was time to drive home and this time it was in the dark. We returned through the small forest before taking that beautiful cypress tree lined road that is photographed in every Tuscan scene that you could imagine. Our car lights cast shadows through the trees and across the valley, giving it a appearance from our daylight drives.

To come over the next few weeks;
Montalcino, the home of Brunello wine, Florence, San Gimignano, Venice and Arese before returning to Paris.


  1. I am really enjoying your tour around Italy. Have made a not of the Italian Chocolate recipe. Guess I will have to do a lot more cycling after drinking that :-) Diane

  2. Glad you're enjoying the Italian posts - Its comments from people like yourself that make it more enjoyable to write about our memories. I'm very impressed with the amount of people that interact with your blog. It must be rewarding.
    Watching the Commonwealth Games at all?


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