Posts Tagged With: Montepulciano Italy

Travel Italy, Caseificio Cugusi, Pecorino Cheese, Montepulciano 2016

While staying at Villa Mazzi just outside of Montepulciano, we loved seeing and hearing the flock of sheep that moved from pasture to pasture as the day passed. They had an accompanying shepherd, and their sheep bells would ring melodiously like a gentle song. They were the neighbor’s flock that makes the famous pecorino sheep cheese, and their farm shop is a delight to visit.

They are a “direct sales” farm, where you can stop in and purchase their products. The Cugusi’s offer a “picnic” special where you can fill up a picnic basket with their cheese and other local products including jams, honey, wine, beer, etc., and then enjoy the magnificent sweeping views from their dining tables towards Montepulciano and the surrounding countryside. This is an awesome view at sunset! Take a cooler if you want some of their fresh cheese or yogurt, which was delicious. Here’s a link to their website: http://www.caseificiocugusi.it/index.php/en/

The farm is located at the end of a gravel access road just past Agriturismo Villa Mazzi on the road between Montepulciano and Pienza.

So many tastes and flavors to sample and eat… We purchased several, and had the ones we wanted to take back to the U.S. vacuum sealed so they would pass customs. I loved their fresh-made yogurt, adding a bit of local honey and jam to it each morning for breakfast.

The picnic views are amazing with the town of Montepulciano perched on the opposite hill from the farm.

Our yummy pecorino purchases… img_6108###

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Italy 2015 ~ Day trip to Pienza & Montepulciano & my birthday dinner

For our first day in Tuscany, we decided to stay close to home and visit some of the small scenic towns. Pienza, renowned for their pecorino (sheep) cheese and small town charm was about 15 minutes from our “home” for the week, Lucignanello Bandini.

We followed the ridge roads and admired the view along the way of the Tuscan countryside. Most of the crops had been already harvested and the fields were plowed awaiting their next sowing.

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IMG_9929The main gate into Pienza

IMG_0250Just inside the gate was an artist who specialized in watercolors and etched-type drawings. I picked out a lovely drawing and Monica and Denise picked out their favorites.

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IMG_0252There are lots of fine linen shops in Pienza

IMG_0009A sampling of pecorino cheeses. We bought several to snack on back at the casa.

IMG_0031Side streets lead to panoramic views

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IMG_0259The main piazza features their civic building and several churches

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IMG_0274I love the iron rings on the building walls that were probably hitching rings for horses in the past but serve well for fido today.

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IMG_0290Next stop was Montepulciano, and we stopped at a pull-off on the side of the road to get a shot of it in the distance.

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IMG_0035The main gate into Montepulciano – it’s amazing they drive inside these ancient cities!

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IMG_9939Wally waiting patiently on the church steps for us women to catch up from our shopping.

IMG_0037A mosaic artist at work

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IMG_0040Monica bought this gorgeous hand made address book in one of the shops. The paper was marble dyed by the proprietor and the girl tending the shop was applying the leather binding – a perfect “locally made” reminder to take home!

IMG_0357They were covering the Piazza Grande with sand, and had antique wagons scattered around the piazza. We found out the next day that they were preparing for a television series filming that featured Dustin Hoffman and Richard Madden in “Medici: Masters of Florence“.

IMG_0337Just down the hill from Piazza Grande is the famous Cantine Contucci wine cellars, a winery that has been producing since before the Renaissance (1008). Learn more about their history on their website:  http://www.contucci.it/en/

This was one of our destinations in Montepulciano, so the girls could sample the Cantina’s famous “Vino Nobile” wine.  IMG_0335

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IMG_0330Adamo Pallecchi, the celler master was in the same spot he was two years previously when we visited, standing in the doorway to greet guests.

IMG_9940We greeted him and he happily posed for pictures before sending us into the cellars for our tour. He later joined us for our wine tasting, guiding us through their selections. Denise ordered a case to be sent home so we’ll have to go visit her when it arrives…

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IMG_0322Into the cellar…

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IMG_9942Time for an espresso…

IMG_0355On the opposite side of the Piazza Grande from Contucci is a courtyard with a panoramic view and public restrooms.

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IMG_0353Just down the way we noticed a sign for a wine cellar and took the steps downward into the cellars to explore. It was the de’Ricci Cantine Storiche, and their cellar was impressive! There was no charge to tour the cellars, but if you want to sample the wines there is a fee. It is deducted if you make a purchase, which we did, buying a bottle for the evening. The soaring ceilings in the cellar are really impressive, and it also features an Etruscan well. Learn more about the cantine and history at:  http://www.dericci.it/

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IMG_0051Dusk was coming, so it was time to head back to our village to rest and get ready for my birthday celebration dinner.

IMG_0345Goodbye for now lovely Montepulciano!

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IMG_9937The girls had picked me a lovely bouquet of flowers for my birthday, and when we arrived back at the apartment we had a toast with our bottle of wine from Lucignanello Bandini.

IMG_0362We rested a bit and then got ready for our dinner in San Giovanni d’Asso at La Loconda del Castello. Located in the castle built in the 1500s, the restaurant offers an upscale elegant dinner. Our hostess had called ahead to make reservations for us. We took pictures a few days later during the day so you can see what the castle looks like. http://www.lalocandadelcastello.com/

Here’s the Castle of San Giovanni d’Asso from below the town

IMG_0073And this is from inside the town from the parking area below the restaurant.

IMG_0099On the right side of the castle is the truffle museum, Museo del Tarfufe, however they were closed when we visited. http://museotartufo.museisenesi.org/

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IMG_0105Inside La Locanda del Castello… it’s time for my birthday dinner – Sept 30th!

IMG_0368We ordered a fried sampler tempura to begin with that had different sauces

IMG_0192I think I had the pappardelle with boar ragout – it was delicious!

IMG_0374A rich tasty soup

IMG_0373Denise ordered the ravioli and it was divine

IMG_0370Our charming host Massimo brought out my birthday dessert – I had learned last year that you do NOT attempt to blow it out!

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IMG_0379And then he treated us to a wonderful bottle of Italian bubbly…

IMG_0384Another fabulous birthday spent in Italy!

IMG_0380Next up is the Arezzo Antique Fair…

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