Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hill Towns of Tuscany

Our first day in Tuscany and we were off to see some hill towns. With a map in one hand and the GPS in the other we started with Montalcino. I had read that it was Market Day on Friday and would be very busy so we arrived early to get a parking spot. We parked near the castle and went for a walk through the market area. The market stalls included hardware supplies, housewares, linens and towels, clothing and footwear as well as bedding plants, cheeses, meats (an entire roasted pig was on display) and baking and candy. There were lots of local people visiting along the way and it looked like everyone was in the mood to shop!!

We also checked out the 14th century Rocca (fortress). Senor Ping climbed to the top of the parapet walk where he got some awesome photos of the countryside. The high walls of the rocca form a pentagon and provided refuge for the people when they were under attack. Nowadays people head there to taste some wine and enjoy the scenery. We walked along the walls of the city and then made our way back to the car.

Our next stop was Montepulciano, a typical town of the Rennaissance period. The town is located at the top a hill, unfortunately, most of the parking it as the bottom of the hill. It was a steep climb to Piazza Grande, the main square at the top of the town. The narrow alleys up and down led to such picturesque spots it was easy to take our time and stop for lots of photo shoots along the way. The view from the top was spectacular. The straight rows of the vineyards, the tall cypress trees and the different shades of greens and browns in the distance are just like I've seen in books and movies.

On our way back to Montalcino we stopped at Pienza. This is another little hillside town with a wonderful little piazza, beautiful tower and cathedral.
Our final stop was the Abbey at Sant'Antimo. The church was built in the 12 century and is now a spiritual retreat run by the Augustinian monks. We walked the grounds and saw a view of the countryside from the valley looking up into the hills.

1 comment:

Pat said...

Your photos almost make me want to cry - they are that beautiful! Sounds like you guys are having a WONDERFUL time! Are you ever coming home?