Florence to Montepulciano - August 5: The Influence of Rick Steves

The sun was peeking through the shutters when we woke up and we could hear bells ringing all over the city. There were two other American couples at breakfast and we exchanged travel stories with them.

Walking into the city center, we noticed an outdoor market with stalls selling everything from vegetables to t-shirts. My owners tell me this is called San Lorenzo. We visited the Medici Chapel where members of the Medici family are buried in tombs, many with statues by Michelangelo.

Back at the hotel while waiting for a taxi to Avis, we learned the owner of the hotel is an editor for the Tuscany section of Rick Steves' guide. The Rezidenza il Villino receives a bear paw award for excellence in accommodations.

Chaos at Avis. They knew nothing about our car. After three cell phone calls to AutoEurope and three failed faxes, we got a brand new VW Golf.

The drive to Montepulciano was short and uneventful and upon our arrival, we were thankful once again to have our own phone. This is the first year we have had a cell phone with us and you can just dial direct. The roaming charges are $1 per minute. We called our accommodation, Meuble Il Roccio, and the owner, Giorgio Caroti, met us at the tourist information center so we could follow him to a private parking spot. Giorgio and his wife, Ivana, have a collection of vintage cars which have appeared in such famous movies as The English Patient, Under a Tuscan Sun, and My Beautiful Life. Our hotel room is clean, comfortable and modern with an incredible view of the countryside.

We visited the Montepulciano Duomo which is plain and unfinished on the outside, but with pretty artwork on the inside. We also visited Contucci Cantina for a wine tasting. We met Adamo who has been making wine since 1953. You can visit his enormous oak vaults in the wine cellar. Some Americans were acting as if Adamo is a movie star because he's featured on Rick Steves' tv show and in his book. They were snapping photos and kissing the guy which seemed a little over the top. I am too sophisticated a bear to do that.

Dinner tonight was right on the square at the Ristorante Al Quattro Venti. It is inexpensive and we had salad and tagliatelle del chef which had small tomatoes.

Montepulciano had a music festival from July 25 to tonight. We attended the concert outdoors on the Piazza Grande and it was magnificent. The large chorus, which included the Westminster Boy's Choir, performed Carl Orff's Carmina Burina. Being there was like being at a PBS outdoor concert. Back at the hotel, the lights in the distance looked magical and there was a fireworks show off on the horizon.

"Concert in the Piazza"

Lights shine on the piazza
The maestro takes center stage
Like a delicate instrument
the magnificent choir
casts a magical spell.
It's like heaven on earth.


Anonymous said…
Brendan Bear,
I love your descriptions of your travels. They make me want to go back and visit Europe. I studied abroad in Madrid and traveled to cities in Italy and France including Florence, Padua, Venice, and Paris. I loved walking through the streets of Florence and noticed that many people rode on motor scooters. Have you noticed the same thing? The concert that you attended sounds like it was awesome! Keep on enjoying the food in Italy. I agree with you, it is certainly delicioso!
--Beth Kalikstein

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