We had a fabulous meal Monday night after wine tasting at a local vineyard. Came home and sat on the balcony, enjoyed some Vin Santo and gazed at the millions of stars visible in the sky.  Slept like a baby until about 6:45AM when it began to feel stuffy in the room.  Turns out my other half had stopped the oscillation of the fan at some point in the middle of the night and had it blowing only on him.  I quickly corrected that and fell back asleep nicely.  We walked back to the plaza for coffee and a bite to eat before heading to Pienza and Montepulciano.

Yesterday we explored 2 local towns, Pienza and Montepulciano.  Pienza is most known for pecorino cheese. The town itself is ancient and charming.  We walked up the hills to the palazzo where the main church, palace and city hall were located.  All of the books I have read about renaissance Italy came back in bits and pieces. The town was rebuilt in 1459, and Pope Pius II consecrated the Duomo (cathedral)in 1462.  There were lots of wonderful little shops all along the way up to the palazzo. And I got the inspiration I needed for our kitchen that will not require repainting…new dishes, yes, but no paint!

After exploring the area for several hours we stopped at a deli for sandwiches, marinated olives and artichokes, and a bottle of wine for a picnic lunch on the grounds of an 11th century church.

All the churches are open to the public, and while there are some similarities, each one has its own individuality. The antiquity of the paintings, stained glass, frescoes and building in general…to walk down aisles where generation upon generation have worshipped was breathtaking and awe inspiring. 

From there we headed to Montepuliciano.  Pienza was rolling hills compared to the steep climbs to the center of Montepulciano!

Montepulciano sits on a 1,985 foot limestone ridge, and as was typical of the area, the palazzo is at the top of the town. It was a slow and steady walk! Felt very much the tourist as I took pictures of the little streets and doorways. Each one seemed better than the last. We got to see artisans at work – making mosaics, and the coppersmith shop. We passed many wine stores along the way, but resisted the temptation to go in and taste. While Montepulciano produces quite a bit of food, it is most known for the vino nobile grape, not the montepulciano grape.We did sit and enjoy a glass when we reached the top and had finished exploring the palazzo.  We got some gifts on the way down which helped to break up the walk.  My only regret is I hadn’t turned on my pedometer, so we don’t have a fully accurate count of steps and flights of stairs.  My legs say it was a LOT. 

Dinner was pizza and salad in town as we were all a bit too tired to think about a big meal.
Today is Montalcino – exploring and wine tasting!