Tuesday April 26
Montepulciano was wonderful and yes it was worth the chaotic and time-consuming transportation methods to arrive there. Since Tuscany is a region of hills, there frequently is no easy way to reach some of these small towns that sit on top of a hill.
Montepulciano is the highest of Tuscany’s hill towns at almost 2000 feet elevation. I found that walking the inclined streets here was not that bad. I think I am just getting used to it. The weather was cool, so it was perfect for walking. There were tourists here but it certainly was not crowded
One of Montepulciano’s claim to fame is its wine, specifically the Vino Nobile. I found Cantina Contucci, and I had heard that Adamo is frequently in the wine cellar, more than happy to share a taste of wine with anyone who wanders in. He has been making wine for over fifty years, and to my delight he was there!
He was so engaging and personable with anyone who came into his wine cellar, welcoming me in with a smile and a “buon giorno.” There we a few others there, tasting his Vino Nobile, and he wasted no time pouring some for me to try. We had a conversation in Italian about how I had read about his cantina in Rick Steves’ book, and was so pleased that I found him here.
After hearing this, he was even more charming and now I can say that I have been kissed by a second Italian man. (Yes, another one over the age of 70). I am coming to realize that this is part of the way they show their pleasure over meeting you. I may be getting used to this!
Afterwards I wandered around Piazza Grande, aware of the fact that this was where Diane Lane watched a flag throwing contest in Under the Tuscan Sun. A more recent film, New Moon, of the Twilight Saga series, was also filmed in this piazza, although I saw no signs of commercialization of this here.
I did climb to the top of the Clock Tower, but was disappointed to find there were only 26 steps, so it really was a piece of cake. It seemed like there should have been more. The steps are very rickety, and actually you can only climb as high as the platform. The tower is never open, I was told. (I am sure it would be too dangerous, if the lower steps are any indication.)
I had lunch and some more Vino Nobile at Caffè Poliziano, one of the oldest restaurants in Montepulciano and full of character.
I was back on the bus by 4pm for the hour and 15 minute ride to Chiusi, where I caught the train back to Siena. It would be another entire blog post for me to say anymore about the transportation back and forth. For someone who is used to driving a car every day in my normal life, I am learning to be flexible when relying on public transportation. I was gone 13 hours, and all but four consisted of riding in a bus or a train, or waiting for a bus or a train. But it was so worth it!