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The ❤️ of Tuscany: Montepulciano and Pienza

ITALY | Saturday, 16 October 2021 | Views [46]

Tuscan Morn, Agriturismo Il Poderaccio

Tuscan Morn, Agriturismo Il Poderaccio

THE PROBLEM WITH A VISIT to the “Heart of Tuscany” is deciding wether to Drink or Drive!Since this was an “Under the Tuscan Sun” sort of day, I drove, despite the offerings of relentlessness wine shop owners of Montepulciano. This was our first time in Montepulciano and I wanted a clear head. Besides, only a barbarian would drink wine before 10AM! 


                        Temptation at Ten O'Clock

We missed a turn to the parking lot Connie wanted but found a free spot on the road. It added another climb to what would be a mostly uphill day, but what’s another couple of hundred feet among friends? Yes, hill towns are on hills, duh. 


     Porta al Prato 


                            Connie at Passaggio Segredo


                                                     Medici Lion atop Colonno Marzocco

We entered through the heavily fortified Porta al Prato with its no-longer-secret passaggio segreto and up to Colonna della Marzocco with the Medici lion perched. At the end of August during the Bravio della Botti, each contrade (neighborhood) selects two men to roll a 180-pound barrel up the hill through town, all the way from the Colonna all the way to the Piazza Grande. 


                  Bravio della Botti (archival photo: braviodellabotti.com)

At Church of Sant’Agostino the sun cast an interesting shadow of “Pulcinella” from atop the clocktower onto the terra-cotta sculpture by a Medici favorite, Michelozzo. While we were looking at the Etruscan and Roman fragments embedded in the wall, the first of the wine-temptresses appeared, bottle in hand. 

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   "Down" Vicolo                                    "Up" Vicolo

We continued uphill past alleyways, vicolo, that branch left and right—downhill vicolo lead to views of the countryside, uphill ones into a maze of stairways and crooked streets.


   Shadow of Piucinella on Sant'Agostino 


                     Roman and Etruscan fragments on Wall

When we took a breather to watch the mosaic-artist break colored rocks into the tiny tessarae for his works, Albo invited us in. I couldn’t begin to guess how many tessarae a single mosaic would require but with an average of 15 days to complete one of his pieces, the $2500 price-tag is understandable. 

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  Albo, the Mosaic Guy                       Takes a Steady Hand

While I took another breather at the switchback turn, Connie reminded me that those contrade guys are still pushing their barrels. Rub it in, why don’t you? We—and they—eventually arrive at the Piazza Grande with its lavish palazzos and the Duomo. 


   Well and Medici Crest


                         Palazzos of Piazza Grande



Going down was much easier as long as we were careful on Vicolo dello Sdrucciolo, “Slippery Lane.”

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    Dining Al Fresco                             KP again? 

I guess we were trespassing but no one called us on it so “no harm, no foul.” We parked in an olive grove near some of those iconic candle-like cypress trees and fueled up on crackers, cheese, fruit, wild-boar sausage and Coke Zero, which seems to be replacing Diet Coke. Here in Italy, anyway.


   It's Good to be the Pope—Piccolomini Family Palazzo

When we first visited Pienza I wasn’t aware of its beginnings. Before Pienza was Pienza it was called Corsignano. The town and the name changed when a local guy from the Piccolomini family hit the jackpot and became Pope Pius II. In a move befitting Donnie T, Pius converted Corsignano into a Renaissance city fit for a Pope and renamed it Pienza after himself. Very Trump-ish, don’t you think? 


     Pienza Town Hall                           Pienza Duomo

Despite what Pius thought of himself, I don’t have many words to say about Pienza. Neither did Rick Steves, come to think about it. So I will just do it with pictures. 

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                Wine                                  Pienza Pecorrino, please


     Cuteness in Lavender                     Hidden Pienza 

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                                          Hidden Pienza              

That’s all I’ve got. If you want verbosity, multiply by 1000.


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