Exploring Montepulciano & Siena, Italy

Our first day of exploration in Tuscany was to Montepulciano and Siena. I wish it had been sunny as we were driving through the Tuscan countryside.. Oh well, next time!

Tuscan countrysideGrape harvest in full swing! Fun to see wagons full of grapes going down the road.

Tuscany tractor and grape trailerTuscan vineyard

Tuscany vineyard viewWe arrived in Montepulciano and found a good parking spot right outside the town gate. Their town “welcome center” is down a stairway (from the main town gate) and has public restrooms.

Montepulciano bell tower outside gatesThis church was just outside the town gates…

Montepulciano church outside of gates

And here we go…

Montepulciano town gate

Montepulciano Wally under gateThey have the most charming bell ringer – it actually moves and hits the bell!

Montepulciano boy bellringer towerSnapshots along our walk…

Montepulciano brick bldg statue over door

Montepulciano brooms & Pasta  Montepulciano cat on street

Montepulciano wood inlay pictures

Montepulciano ceramics shelf

Montepulciano church door

Montepulciano church exterior

Montepulciano church interior

Montepulciano columned churchLuckily I had read about Cantina Contucci in Rick Steves’ travel guide, so when we came up from a back way and spied it, I knew we were in wine heaven! Their history of wine has the amazing longevity of 1008-2008! You can learn more about their history at their website: http://www.contucci.it/storia.en.php

Montepulciano Cantina Contucci entrance

We were greeted by their friendly and charming cellarman of 50 years, Adamo Pallecchi…

Montepulciano Contucci,  Adamo Pallecchi

Montepulciano Contucci Jamie with wine barrels

Montepulciano Contucci Vino Noble tag

Montepulciano Contucci Wally on barrels

Montepulciano Contucci Adamo & copper sign

Montepulciano Contucci, Jamie and Adamo laughing

Montepulciano Contucci Jamie & Adamo 2

He led us to the tasting room for their famous line-up…

Montepulciano Contucci Adamo & helper tastingThis one – it’s good – he seemed to say.

Montepulciano Contucci Adamo pointing to bottleand it was!

Montepulciano Contucci Jamie with bottle     The whiskey lover is even appreciating the good Italian winesMontepulciano Contucci Wally with glassCan I fit one of those in my suitcase???

Montepulciano Contucci wine barrels

Montepulciano Contucci wine casks vertAnd back out on the streets, a little happier for the wine

Montepulciano copper shop  Montepulciano crown sign

Montepulciano Enoteca Bacci clsup

Montepulciano Enoteca store

Montepulciano Frantoio sign

Montepulciano Il Sole e La Luna ceramics

Montepulciano leather shopJust up from Cantina Contucci is Montepulciano’s main piazza

Montepulciano piazza bell tower bldg

Montepulciano Contucci view to piazza

I loved the whimsical figures adorning the piazza – no stately statues here – these playful nymphs were chunky and lanky and loving life! You wanted to join in and cavort with them.

Montepulciano piazza boy & girl statue

Montepulciano piazza chunky girl tennis

Montepulciano piazza view, breezy girls

Montepulciano pots on rail

Montepulciano Pratesi shoe display

Montepulciano pretty doorway

Montepulciano red poppies on glass

Montepulciano Salumera Toscana entrance

Montepulciano soap & jewelry

Montepulciano street & buildingsI heard violin music from a courtyard as we walked along and it drew me in like a siren. This handsome young man was playing in the window and then stopped to chat with a friend. Ahh, the atmosphere!

Montepulciano violin boy 1

Montepulciano violin boy 2This was a fabulous panorama we stumbled upon down below Contucci and the piazza… You walked down towards an arched gate and then could see across the countryside

Montepulciano vert brick wall

Montepulciano wall to panorama viewA murder of crows just happened along, cawing and jeering to each other.

Montepulciano countryside, crows

Montepulciano Wally with sceneryTime to move onward to the next place, but I wish we could have stayed there a bit longer. Montepulciano is on the “return” list.

When we left, I was navigating towards Pienza, the pecorino (sheep) cheese town of Tuscany. However, as mentioned in an earlier post, it’s easy to take a wrong turn and a GPS is quite handy. So, instead of Pienza, we ended up closer to Siena. Oh well. Another day.

We really had no idea what we were doing when we arrived in Siena. My guide book said look for the soccer ball signs for the stadio for public parking. Well, I guess I was tired and we were overwhelmed with the town being much bigger than anything we’d driven in before. I got stadio confused with stazione and we ended up in the parking garage of the Siena bus and train station. Once you drove in, you couldn’t get out. You had to take a parking pass from the machine. We still didn’t have a clue where we were in relation to the town “centro” which is where we wanted to go. So we parked, wandered around a bit and figured out we were NOT in the right place or even close. **sigh**cry**

Ok, now how do we escape the parking garage – the machine won’t let us OUT! Luckily no one is behind us so Wally backs up and parks so we can figure it out. He realizes there is a machine where you pre-pay and takes care of it. Great! We’re free again.. Where is the stadio? Soccer ball sign – that way. NO, go that way… can we go home now? Oh, wait, there’s a tourist bus parking lot with cars in it ~ PARK! So we walk a mile (it seems) and get to Siena’s “centro”. We’re tired and hungry and there are lots of tourists so here are a few highlights.

Siena town gate

Siena view between buildings outside

Siena view of rooftops, bell tower

Siena Jamie wide view of Siena

Siena Jamie clsup  Siena flags

Siena Wolf mother statue

Siena Piazza Salimbeni

Blue skies came out just as we arrived on Piazza del Campo, home to the renowned Palio horse races twice a year. Amazing that they race horses around this piazza! Siena Piazza del Campo vert bell tower

  A panorama of the Piazza del Campo from where we had lunchSiena Piazza del Campo panorama

Siena Piazza del Campo  curved buildings

Siena Piazza del Campo right side

Siena pigeon on wall

Finally, lunch! Siena Piazza del Campo  lunch

  Siena cafe on Piazza del Campo, WallyAfter lunch the skies turned dark gray and rain threatened, so we decided we were ready to go home to La Mucchia Casa Vacanze, our home for the week. We arrived back in time to catch the neighbor combining the sunflowers across the street.

Cortona combining sunflowers

Time for wine! Some of the nice white wine we brought from Todi.

Cortona, Umbrian Sabina wine glass

Tomorrow, the Arezzo Antique Fair!


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