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Published: July 22nd 2011
We made it to Montepulciano just in time for a late lunch today. After our big day in Florence, no-one felt much like revving up early. Don't tell, but as we got up so late and it was SOOO hot, we stopped and had ice-cream for breakfast in Asciano on the way!
Montepulciano reminded me a little of San Gimignano, but felt a bit less touristy and was certainly quieter. I felt like we had earned lunch after parking the car and making our way up the steep, winding little streets and stairs to meet Steve and Astrid, who had been exploring for a while by the time we got there and were starving. We hit on yet another good restaurant and enjoyed fantastic pasta with mushroom and truffle ragu while sitting outside under vines and umbrellas (Thanks again, Trip Advisor!)
The leather in the shops here was lovely and there was less hard sell, so the children made some great purchases including a lovely green, leather-bound travel diary for Hugo, and a little red shoulder bag for Isabel. Hugo had his heart set on a green crystal bracelet for some reason, and happily wore his purchase all day.
Trattoria di Cagnano, Montepulciano
Fantastic pasta with mushroom ragu and truffles
We all just smiled and enjoyed the fact that he didn't care what anyone thought.
My favourite place was a workshop where we watched a real craftsman making copper pots and pans. The enormous fish steamer at the front of the workshop had been ordered by a restaurant in Positano, but I was convinced it should be the centerpiece of my dream kitchen. It had taken 3 weeks to make and was thousands of Euro, but I could have been tempted to stow it in my suitcase and go without clothes for the rest of the holiday if it wasn't already spoken for. I did wonder as we walked away, what was going to happen to the old man's knowledge once he was gone. It seemed to be absolutely a one man show.
We wandered up to the church and square at the top of the hill afterwards, and listened to a guy playing beautiful classical guitar. Nobody was hurrying, and there were no crowds so it was quite a contrast with yesterday. Isabel was itching to dance, but has become quite self-conscious lately. Hugo climbed up to look at the old well, which used to serve the
The famous fish steamer
Three weeks to make by hand and many thousands of Euro.
whole town. Imagine how hard it would have been lugging buckets of water up and down the streets and steps, we thought.
Astrid and Steve offered to look after the children for us in the evening so that we could drive to San Quirico D'Orcia to meet up with old friends of ours - James and Mandy Drury. They have been on a cycling tour of Tuscany, but live close to us, in Sandringham. We've been joking about having to go half way around the world to actually find time to have dinner! It was great to catch up on their news and find out where they had been. The idea of pedalling up some of the hills we'd walked was less than appealing to me, but they are obviously pretty fit! On the drive there we'd passed the first sheep I'd seen in Italy, and you guessed it, there was lamb on the menu. Yum!
It was a slow, eventful, dark drive home through the hills. We entered one deserted town, only to be pulled over by two pretty scary-looking policemen holding machine guns. I think it was the French number plates causing trouble again. "Passport and
driver's licence," one of them snapped in Italian. "Parla Inglese?" I enquired. That got one of them going. "NO! this ITALY", he snarled. Well, I just shut up after that. It seemed to take an awfully long time for them to reluctantly hand back our International driver's licenses and passports. "Is OK", one finally said, and we drove off with slightly wobbly legs.
We got the giggles on the rest of the drive, remembering the grumpy policeman, and there was no chance of Frank falling asleep behind the wheel. We'll have a great story to tell the kids in the morning.
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