Friday, May 23, 2008

Italy Wrap Up Part 2

At this point in the trip we had canceled our previously booked accommodations looking to get out of the cities and had heard there were lots of great agriturismo places to stay which is a working farm that has turned part of their house/barn/farm in to guest accommodations. They can vary from sleeping in barns on hay to living it up in spa-like settings. And the best part is that it's all set in the midst of Italian countryside complete with amazing views, vineyards and olive groves.

Continuing from the advice from our cooking friends we found ourselves in a small town named Montepulciano which gets its fame from the Nobile (pronounced NOH-bee-leh) grape and the wine it produces.

The town itself wasn't much different than some of the other recent cities but it has yet to lose all of its charm from us tourists. After visiting the square which of course is a long way up the hill, we found the Contucci Palace Cantina a Nobile wine cellar that happens to be featured in the 2008 Rick Steves book, here (2nd paragraph from the bottom).

We tasted some wine then sat and chatted with Admo whose picture is in the book. The funny thing is he loved the publicity having the book open to the page not to mention even signing a copy of the guide while we were there. He was a very entertaining fellow and we enjoyed talking with him. He's so full of passion about the wine.

To find accommodation for the night we stopped in the local tourism office to get some recommendations and its a good thing we did. They booked us a place at a local agriturismo farm called Il Palazzodei Diavoli which turned out to be perfect. It was a small farm with newly refurbished rooms (actually fairly posh) which sat right below Montepulciano.

To kick back and relax one day we decided to have a picnic on the farm in the middle of the vineyards. We ran into town, picked up some fresh bread, meats, cheeses and other picnic supplies and spent the entire day out in the fields enjoying perfect weather. The view was incredible and we were able to get some good old RnR which we really needed.

Our final stop on the trip was Pisa and we took the train from Florence to get there. We just had to see the leaning tower which is much more impressive in person than in pictures. It's just hard to imagine how much it is truly leaning. One quick tip if you are heading to Pisa. You only need a short visit and could even take the train in one day and take the train out the same day. After the museums and sights in Florence, and the views in other parts of Tuscany there isn't much left for Pisa other than the leaning tower. But the tower is worth it.

After seeing Pisa we had a bit of time to kill so we ended up hopping on the train to a popular coastal destination to stick our feet in the sand. Not having any beach gear with us, we ended up just taking off our shoes and rolling up our jeans. This allowed us a few minutes in the sand and sun which is always good to let you know your on holiday. Note the picture above. So after one final pizza in a little pizza shop we caught our flight home.

A nice, well rounded trip. Planes, trains, and automobiles, plus cites, country and a bit of the beach. Tuscany is one of our favorite places now!

Italy Photo Collection

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