Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Day 8: Eating Grapes Off the Vine and Spying on the Neighbors

Another sunny day inspired Nathan to try to interest me in hiking again. As my soreness had finally worn off from our Cinque Terre adventure, I was only somewhat hesitant until he assured me this hike was much shorter and very flat. He even showed me his intended route on a map. It did look short. After exploring our hosts' land (they had an orchard of olive trees that covered the hillside below our agriturismo and ended at the grapevines we could see lining the other side of the valley), we'd head a couple yards down the road to a road that circled around and came back right to where we were staying.

Giacomo (our main host at the agriturismo) pointed out a good path through his property. It was a lovely start to the morning. Nathan found a walking stick, a persimmon tree to sample, and we watched the old neighbors climbing their olive trees far above us to harvest their olives.

We gathered a few things for our longer hike from our appartamento and headed down the road to the start of our walk/hike. This road was gravel and seemed more like a very long driveway. It wound its way down among a number of new vineyards and a few houses. We came upon a whole field of grape vines that were still heavy with ripened grapes, some already rotting right on the vine. We found a bunch that were still tasty and popped wine grapes in our mouths as we walked.
We passed a house where the whole family, with everyone from their three-year-old to the grandparents, were out harvesting olives for the day. That scene felt like the Italian equivalent of the American image of jumping in a pile of fall leaves as the epitome of fall.

We reached an actual paved road and then walked along it until we came to the next winding road that led back up toward our agriturismo.  I realize that none of this sounds particularly strenuous so it may seem unwarranted to keep calling this a hike, but it did end up taking 2 1/2 hours. I qualify anything longer than an hour as a "hike." Plus, it was well after lunch so by the time we made it into town (Montepulciano), we were trying to find lunch at 3 again. Sigh. We never learned.

This time we did get lucky and find a place that made excellent "super" pizzas that was open even at 3. I had a normal pizza that would qualify as enough for two people, while Nathan dominated a "super" pizza, which was big enough to cover our small table.

After lunch we explored the historic part of Montepulciano, which is a rather compact set of streets that have a sprinkling of churches and a fort. I really can't get over how many ornate churches are in even the smallest of Italian towns. We also saw the building in the main square that apparently plays a rather large role in one of the Twilight movies, though I did not recognize it until my brother-in-law's girlfriend told me. I will say that Montepulciano feels like the sort of town that would have vampires if they existed.

Dinner that night was an amazing spread that our hosts at the agriturismo made from scratch for three couples staying in the various rooms/apartments. We attended with another American couple from RI and a couple from Northern Italy. It was pretty fun getting to know people while eating local salami and cheese, pasta (pici, kind of a thick spaghetti noodle specific to the region) made from scratch, freshly baked bread, guinea hen, thick super chocolatey pudding, and wine that Giacomo made from their own grapes just for the family.

We cut our leisurely meal a teeny bit short at 10 pm to go get Dean and Sarah from the train station 20 minutes away. They were coming to visit Montepulciano and the surrounding towns for the first time with us for the next two days. We found them pretty easily in the nearby (ghost) town where they had waited patiently on us for an hour, brought them back to our place, played some Euchre, and then constructed a nest on the floor for them to sleep (made of couch cushions, comforters, and shredded newspaper).

1 comment:

  1. I am enjoying these travelogues IMMENSELY! The next best thing to being there is to see it through your eyes!