Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tuscany by Public Transit

Try getting from Florence to a Tuscan medieval walled hill town by public transit. I dare you.

I suppose it isn't actually that difficult, depending on where you're going. Siena has eight trains from Florence daily. Buses go direct to San Gimignano and a few other hot spots. But I'd been to these with my family on a prior trip, and I wanted to see something new.

I chose Montepulciano because my favorite Trader Joes wine is Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. Which doesn't come from Montepulciano, it turns out, but stole their name to fool people like me. Montepulciano's actual local wine, Nobile di Montepulciano, was even more delicious than what I normally buy in the bargain aisle for $4. Astonishing, I know.

It took four hours by train and bus to get there. Although it was grueling at times and not always clear where or how to transfer, it was as picturesque a commute as one could ask for. The scenery on the way was perfectly Tuscan.

And then, at the end of the line, with just me and a German couple left on the bus, we spotted our destination perched on a hill.

As is the rule with medieval hill towns, to find the main square just keep going up. Which I did until my legs hurt. And from the square, up to the top of the tallest building. This was the view:

For lunch, I enjoyed a glass of Nobile di Montepulciano (what else) and piadina crudo. This piadina looked a bit more like a quesadilla than what I ate in Ravenna, but I wasn't complaining.

I walked up and down side streets, poked into a few shops, and quickly realized that there was little else to do. I don't know precisely what I expected, but apparently when you go off the beaten path you have to entertain yourself!

I found a cafe with a balcony and enjoyed the view while reading my book. This is the view from that balcony:

Eventually, leisurely, I made my way back to the bus which took me back to the train which took me back to Florence. I ate a late dinner at Za Za and collapsed in my hostel one last night.

Tomorrow, the long-awaited Cinque Terre.

Location:Montepulciano, Italy

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