June 03, 2010


Well, not this Tuscany, but it does have that reputation. With our one day less in this area we tried not to jam the rest of the days full, but to take the time to appreciate where we are. In Siena we sat on Il Compo in a sidewalk cafe eating local panforte and other goodies. In Montelcino we drank the famous wines and enjoyed the few rays of sun poking through the clouds. In Pienza we toured the UNESCO Heritage Site of Pope Pius’s home. And then returned back to our base town of Montepulciano which was enshroud in fog from the low lying clouds...

After leaving Calgary on Saturday, we finally left Rome on Thursday (in our original clothes) and drove north to Montepulciano, one of Tuscany's famous hilltop towns.

Driving through Tuscany:

One suitcase was waiting for us there! Hooray!!! Back onto the phone asking about #2 and within 30 minutes of us arriving, it did too! That was great until I opened it and found that it had been secretly slashed through a front pocket into the body. My saving grace was my packing; in that my canvas hat, then my pillow covered all my clothes and goods (each in Rick Steves packing cubes) so that nothing could be snatched quickly. So nothing missing, but a big slice through the front, inside one of the outside pockets.

As a consolation the meal that first night in Montepulciano was the best I have had so far – pasta with black truffles and caramel panna cotta for dessert – amazing excitement in my mouth. Now I understand all the fuss about truffles!! Disappointing food in Rome, so looking forward to more Tuscany delicacies!

Over the next couple of days we visited Siena - the cultural competition to Florence in the arts in the 13th and 14th century. The 'centro' (centre of town) is a UNESCO Heritage Site.

First view of Siena's Piazza del Campo, then the entrance onto it. Most famous for the horse races between the nine wards of the state that occur twice a year - the Palio. Read link for more information.

The Siena Cathedral, known as the Duomo, and it's wonderful tower. A Gothic masterpiece:

Inside the Duomo:

Onto Montalcino, famous for its locally produced wines. But we found all the excitement was for the Giro d'Italia that would be coming through town the next day. This bike race through the entire country rivals the Tour de France in Europe. Every shop window was decorated in a bicycle theme:

And Pienza, again the town centre is a UNESCO Heritage Site, is a perfect Renaissance town. Read more about its history here. We did tour Pope Pius II summer home but again, no photos were allowed.

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