Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Montepulciano and San Quirico

Landscape on the way to Montepulciano
Well, the day started out okay, except for the fact that we couldn't catch a bus to Montepulciano until noon. So we decided to backtrack north on the bus route and visit a village called San Quirico. We had seen several hikers on the bus the day before who had stopped in San Quirico, and since we had time to kill, we thought we'd check it out. San Quirico is on the pilgrimage route via Francigena, which goes from France to Rome.

Chuch of Sts. Quiricus and Julietta
San Quirico is a small village, with only 2500 inhabitants, and there wasn't much to see there. We walked around for a few hours, then caught the bus going back towards Pienza that would take us to Montepulciano.

The landscape outside San Quirico.
A view of Val d'Orcia from the bus.
By the time we arrived in Montepulciano, there were ominous dark clouds moving in. We took a bus up to the centro storico of the village, which sits high on a 605-metre (1,985 ft) limestone ridge.
 
When we first arrived, the streets were filled with people, and we made our way up to Piazza Grande,  the high point of the village. As we strolled the area, it started to rain.

Piazza Grande
Palazzo Comunale (fashioned after Palazzo Vecchio in Florence)
Along the way, we saw an interesting clock tower, the Torre di Pulcinella.  Soon after, the rain was getting worse, and we ducked into a cafĂ© for lunch.

Torre di Pulcinella, with a working clock at the top.
As soon as we got settled at a table, it started to pour heavily, but we were dry and safe while we ate a leisurely lunch, and drank a quartino (quarter liter) of Montepulciano's famous wine, Vino Nobile.

Cafe Poliziano, where we escaped from the rain.
In fact, most people come to Montepulciano for the wine, and there are numerous shops and cantinas where wine-tasting is available. However, neither Haruko or I are big wine-drinkers, so our sample at lunch was sufficient.

Montepulciano in the rain.
Our time in Montepulciano was hampered by not only the rain, but the bus schedule as well. There was only one option for getting back to Pienza that afternoon, and since it was raining, we didn't have much time to explore. We headed back to the bus station early rather than get drenched by the rain. Che peccato! Hopefully there will be another chance in the future to return and spend more time in this area.

A view of Montepulciano from the bus window.

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