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Village of Montepulciano, Tuscany

Well, things have certainly taken an unexpected turn the last few weeks.  Last November when we were marveling at the gorgeous Tuscan scenery, I never could have imagined that all of Italy and a good chunk of Europe would be completely closed off from the rest of the world while they combated an invisible enemy known as COVID-19.  Back here in Florida, we are also essentially on lock-down, working remotely from home and only going out for groceries and essentials.  It’s still hard to comprehend but I hope that if we all hunker down and do our part, then maybe this bitter pill of isolation will help us get through this even faster.  I sincerely hope everyone out there stays safe and healthy and I hope for a speedy recovery for anyone that contracts this awful virus and my sympathies for anyone that has lost a loved one due to it.

With that in mind, I have still been thinking about our trip to Italy and how much we want to go back.  Like many people, we will be cancelling at least one upcoming trip in April and possibly one in early July but I’d like to think about happier times for right now so I hope someone out there enjoys some photos and has a little escapism.

We spent three days in southern Tuscany in the small hilltop village of Montepulciano at a boutique hotel called Locanda San Francesco.  I absolutely loved this charming village, which has several excellent restaurants in it and many wine tasting shops sampling local Vino Nobile and Brunello wines.

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View from our hotel room at Locanda San Francesco overlooking the valley and the rooftops of Montepulciano

We were picked up by Lello of Andiamo! Tours at our hotel in Rome and driven to Montepulciano, which took about 2.5 hours and was a pleasant drive.  When we arrived, we found that it was the first day of their Xmas Market, which was a pleasant surprise.  Lello had to drive via a side street to get to our hotel and almost got the van stuck.  We eventually had to just get out and walk up the hill to the hotel while he slowly backed out. Once we got to the hotel, we checked in and then walked around the village, which was packed for the Xmas market.

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Morning views of Tuscany
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You get glimpses of Tuscany from various peek-a-boo spots on side streets.  There is also a rampart to walk around on the outside of town
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Interior streets of Montepulciano – lined with cute little shops selling wine, cheese, pottery and olive wood items

It was also the first day of their Xmas market, which was such a treat.  It was lined with booths selling local meats and delicacies, mulled wine, roasted nuts and sweet treats and many locally made goods like knitted hats and scarves and Xmas decor.  We enjoyed walking around and enjoying the atmosphere.  They also projected light scenes on all teh buildings at night so it was very festive!

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Xmas market stall selling local meats and cheeses
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Hot Mulled Wine
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Sweet Treats
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Loved the light displays in the evenings

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Main Plaza and City Hall during the day

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We had a day outing to Pienza and Montalcino and to visit some wineries on our second day.  Our last day we spent sleeping in, relaxing and exploring more of the village.  Steve and I decided to visit one of the tasting rooms which was actually buried deep under the village in a cave that was once used by the Etruscans.  It was a long walk down many stairs to finally reach the tasting room but was a fun adventure.

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Reaching the cellar under the town
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Massive wine barrels in the cave

My favorite part of the day was sunset as we had beautiful views from our hotel’s terrace.  Watching the sun dip down and the sky turn purple and orange while sipping an Italian red was such a memorable experience.  I had high expectations for Tuscany and it did not disappoint.

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On our last day, Steve and I also decided that we needed to get some exercise to justify all the pastas and braised meats we had been eating so we walked down a hiking path to a church below the village.  Walking down wasn’t so bad but walking back up was a different story.  The church is apparently an Baroque cathedral dating to the early 1800’s but it was closed when we got there so we couldn’t go inside.  A little disappointing but we were mostly trying to get fresh air and exercise and the views were beautiful along the way.

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View of the church we walked down to from the village
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Steve on the walking path heading downhill
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Love the cypress trees

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Church’s old well
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View of the church

After the hustle and crowds or Rome, we were so glad we booked three days at this quiet little village.  It was nice to take a breather and relax and just enjoy the scenery, wine and food.

I hope everyone out there stays safe and healthy!  Wash your hands!

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