Sunday, June 24th
This will come as a shock to you, but our entire group slept in – again. Scrambled eggs, yogurt, fruit and a kid favorite – B-ready Nutella snacks (they are pretty much just a cookie filled with nutella in the shape of a baguette – of course the kids love them). Then gathering the troops and heading out to visit the cute little town of Montepulciano – a famous wine and food producing region. We sampled the gelato first thing. I got a view of the resting eaters from above before we hiked the town.
The streets wind around and everything seems to be uphill. There were loads of galleries and shops with interesting goods. I found a beautiful gallery with huge pieces of painted glass by Massimo Cruciani. Lovely scenes of Tuscany with sunflowers and poppies. I snagged a card for further contemplation. Lincoln also look loads of pictures of his pieces. I guess he loved them too.
We kept on and saw some amusing windows with good advice.
Finally, we landed at a famous tavern at the top of the town – Cantina Contucci. The caves have been in use by the same family since the 11th century. We tasted the wine and met the wine maker. Spoke not a word of English except to say that he is famous in the states thanks to Rick Steves. He hangs the Italy guidebook with pride just behind the tasting table. He was a character.
Just outside of the tavern in a town square, there was a course of some sort set up. A “team” was rolling a wooden cask through the course, practicing their maneuvers over and over again. Another “team” stood to the side, either scoping out the competition or waiting for their turn at the course. The “teams” are the 8 districts of Montepulciano and are like the contrade in Siena and cask rolling is their town’s competition -Bravio delle Botti. It used to be a horse race, too, but switched to barrel racing in 1974.
We made our way back down through the town and I took a few other pictures of images of the town. It’s a cute place with great views and wasn’t too overrun with tourist as was suggested. Worth a trip.
Back to the house for swimming and dinner.
Monday, June 25th
We made it over to Ormanni for a tour and wine and olive oil tasting at 11am. I really love their wines. Their land is huge, and they produce Sangiovese, Merlot, Syrah, Canaiolo and Trebbiano & Malvasia (last 2 are only for whites) as well as olive oil. They use cement tanks for fermentation. I’ve never seen that before. Rocco is the director and he took their wine production from 20,000 bottles to 120,ooo bottles of wine over his 10 years with the company. They now keep all of the grapes they harvest for their own wines rather than selling some to other wineries to use. The winery has been in existence since 1818, but the original caves were built around 1300. It’s a beautiful property. I highly recommend a stop to visit their little slice of heaven.
The rest of the day the Baughers got in some R&R and the Welshes headed back in to Siena on a Siena art quest. We all met up for dinner at Ristorante Pestello on the recommendation of my friends as well as Ormanni. It was fantastic and the building was built in the early 1800’s and used to be stables.
We had a little room all to our selves. Rod and Dinah ordered a T-bone the size of Texas and Milania and Lincoln also put away fillets of their own. The steaks were sooo tender and full of flavor and somehow that entire T-bone vanished before I thought to take a picture of it. Great end to our day.
I remember the stained glass shop & also marveled at some of the beautiful pieces. And also, the little wine maker who spoke no English, but had the Rick Steves book & rec. You know, I use his books for all my travel.. Lovely pics!! Wish we’d found that winery!!!