Arriving in Rome, Dinner in Trastevere at Popi Popi

For our stay in Rome, I found a nice looking apartment on Airbnb in the neighborhood near Piazza Navona that we had stayed previously. I love this neighborhood with its charming apartments, cafes, boutiques, thrift stores and fun night life around Piazza Navona.

We had to walk quite a ways from where we picked up our keys to the apartment with our luggage, and it was SOO hot in July! I thought Wally was going to cry with joy when he realized the bedroom on the top floor had air conditioning. Glory hallelujah! The apartment was on two levels with the kitchen and a little dining area on the first, and a large open bedroom and sitting area with French doors to a balcony on top. I loved all the antique furniture pieces and accents throughout the apartment!

The view from our balcony…IMG_7344After freshening up, it was time to shake off the drive from Montepulciano and get out and walk. Our cab driver had suggested dinner at Popi Popi in Trastevere, so we started in Piazza Navona and meandered our way along the Tiber River. I love the Castel Sant Angelo (the round building), and we will be visiting it on our stay this time.

We crossed the bridge into Trastevere and wandered through the neighborhood, enjoying people watching in the late afternoon. One of the things I’ve always loved in Italy is the musicians playing on the piazzas creating such an inviting atmosphere. Lots of locals and tourists about in Trastevere!

We found Popi Popi and after our walk, we were starved! We chose a little table outside and placed our order.

Some wine, pizza, pasta and espresso… Ahhh, Italy!

IMG_7406Time to walk it off on the way back to the apartment.

More Rome to come…

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Poppi Castle

We decided on a visit to the town of Poppi and Poppi Castle for our next Tuscan day trip, and would highly recommend it if you are in the area! There were fields of sunflowers blooming along the way, and the scenery is more wooded hills. Here’s a great link to find out more about visiting Poppi: https://www.discovertuscany.com/casentino/poppi-castle.html

We left early in the morning when the mists were rising around Montepulciano where we were staying. What a beautiful drive! IMG_6839IMG_6842IMG_6843And in the distance, a hot air balloon was drifting towards Montepulciano. That’s still on our “to do” list on our next visit! IMG_6844Along the way to Poppi…

Poppi Castle perched on the hill…

We strolled through some of the churches and through the streets. It was VERY quiet, with almost no one else in the historic “centro” part of town. If horsemen had come clattering up the street, I wouldn’t have been surprised. It just felt like you had stepped back three centuries in time!

It was a small fee to tour the castle and well worth it!

On the way home we stopped off in another ancient hilltop town, Castiglion Fiorentino, for lunch. The outdoor cafe The Garden drew us in, and the their diverse menu included sandwiches and burgers, which of course we were craving. It was delicious, and we enjoyed our al fresco lunch.

IMG_7042IMG_7044And homeward bound to Villa Mazzi at Montepulciano! IMG_7053This is our last day in Tuscany, and my next blog we’ll be in Rome!

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Ristorante Fattoria Pulcino & The Church of San Biagio, Montepulciano, Italy 2016

Our outing for the day was to check out the Ristorante Pulcino Fattoria, and of course another meal! We stopped by the Ercolani Cantina first for a quick wine and olive oil sampling to get our appetites going.

At Ristorante Pulcino Fattoria, you walk through a very simple entrance and step back in time… Amazing antique furniture that has probably been sitting there for centuries drew my eyes, along with the wide variety of wine, oil and other food products available for sale. Even if you don’t go to eat, this is a great place to shop.

They have a large formal dining area that can accommodate large groups, and a casual terrace with a view, where we ate.

After we placed our order, we went downstairs to explore their history museum and art gallery area.

Ahh, food… Wally went for the meat trio and I had the pasta. Very tasty!

As we checked out, the owner introduced herself and I bought one of her hand-painted ornaments with a bee and flowers as a souvenir. She donates the money to a charity – she was so sweet! IMG_5995Our next stop was a visit to the Church of San Biagio, built between 1518 and 1545, which we had an excellent view of from our Villa Mazzi across the little valley.

There’s a restaurant beside the church that is highly recommended for dinner, but we didn’t get around to trying it. Next time!

Back at Villa Mazzi, here was our view of San Biagio and Montepulciano at different times of the day…IMG_6018IMG_5848IMG_5850IMG_5821IMG_4870

IMG_7270.jpgAhhh… che bella!

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Travel Italy 2016 ~ Dinner at La Bottega del Nobile, Montepulciano

Our first night in Montepulciano, we decided to eat in town and La Bottega del Nobile on the main street was recommended. We arrived in town at dusk and made our way up the hill.

You enter the restaurant through an enoteca shop entrance, and then begin to descend into the depths of their ancient building. We ordered a ravioli and gnocchi dish and local wine and soaked in the atmosphere. A server was offering shots of an after dinner liquor (grappa I think), but we declined as we had to drive back to our Villa Mazzi.

Another wonderful meal…

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Travel Italy 2016 ~ Around Montepulciano & Lunch at Ristorante degli Archi

We love Montepulciano with it’s amazing views, winding hilly streets, delicious food and their famous wines! Here’s a glimpse around this charming hilltop Tuscan town…

I happened to notice the fresco restoration when walking past this building.

They have amazing artists and artisans, so you can find that perfect souvenir to take home. There’s a shop that carries Tuscan soaps that I love and always buy quite a few.

And the views are amazing!

We decided to try a restaurant with a view and Ristorante Degli Archi looked busy, so we decided to try them. I ate inside and I loved their interior decor filled with charming antiques, linen-draped tables, and little balconies with the view over the valley. This restaurant has that Italian charm you’re looking for! Just fabulous!

Our pizzas were delish, and fat and full, it was time for a nap back at Villa Mazzi! And yes, we’ll be eating pizza leftovers for dinner! And more of Montepulciano after lunch…

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Travel Italy 2016 ~ Pienza, Spedaletto & Lunch at La Terrazza in Bagno Vignoni

Our lunch destination for the day was La Terraza in Bagno Vignoni, which was a new route for us. From Villa Mazzi in Montepulciano, our first stop was at the Ceramiche Sbarluzzi Pienza, which we had driven by several times but hadn’t stopped. I drooled over all of their terracotta and inside were gorgeous hand painted creations. http://www.sbarluzzi.com/home.php#

We love the little town of Pienza, home to the famous Pecorino cheese, and fabulous views across the countryside. There are usually artists set up along the streets, and I was in search of a Tuscan sunflower picture so we stopped off to see who was set up. See previous posts from trips to Pienza.

The artist of the day was Mirta Ellena Contini with her fabulous watercolors! She features local scenery, and does amazingly detailed work. I found my perfect sunflower watercolor, along with a lovely scene featuring poppies and some sweet bookmarks.

Here are my two watercolors I bought from Mirta, and framed in antique frames when I got home.

We made one more stop in Pienza at the Monaci Remo olive oil store to pick up a can of their local oil.

From Pienza, we drove towards Bagno Vignoni, and the scenery was so mesmerizing with the wheat and hay being rolled and square baled and piled in the fields. Of course I was snapping away with my camera as we went… so many old ancient abandoned farmhouses dot the countryside, awaiting their revival.

After making a turn, we spotted a really cool castle and business that appeared to be open to the public. It was the Spedaletto Castle, and the business was Mulino Val d’Orcia, where they make pasta and flour from their grains. We got to see the pasta being made, and were told about the history and process. They have been organic since 1992, and use the traditional stone milling process to grind the grains. Of course we bought a variety of their products!

http://www.mulinovaldorcia.it/Home/GB

Next door the castle beckoned, and we discovered it is an agriturismo, which means you can stay there! What a cool and beautiful place this was! We would definitely stay at the Agriturismo Castello di Spedaletto if we were in the area again! http://www.castellodispedaletto.it/Home/GB

Just lovely! So we’re starving now and lunch is our next stop… We arrived in Bagno Vignoni, checked out the view and hot springs area before walking into town.

La Terrazza is located next to the famous hot springs pool that is the central feature of Bagno Vignoni. You can’t swim in it today, but there are free hot springs open to the public available at the Parco dei Mulini. La Terraza was recommended by our hostess at Villa Mazzi, who had just been there a few days before for a birthday party. Here’s a walk around the village…

Time to eat! Here’s the view from their terrace. You can also dine inside. Find them on Facebook at Ristorante Enoteca la Terrazza di Bagno VignoniIMG_7212

Excellent food, service and presentation! Another lovely meal in Tuscany!

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Travel Italy 2016 ~ San Quirico D’Orcia

Located just a short distance from Montepulciano is the small town of San Quirico D”Orcia, and it’s worth a quick stop to walk through and see it. They have several lovely shops that feature local linens, quality bath and body products, gifts and home decor. I bought several of the tea towels with Tuscan farm scenes and sunflowers.

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Travel Italy 2016 – Montalcino & Lunch at Fattoria dei Barbi

Here’s a walk around Montalcino, home of the famous Brunello wine!