We Didn’t Drink All The Vino: 2005 Italia Uncensored!
Day Seven – Breakfast Feast, Healing Bath, Pecorino Is My Life, Lunch With A Tuscan View, Your Nap Is Over And A Trek To A Beckoning Hill Town
Yesterday’s traumatic adventure was now in the rear view mirror, so, undaunted, we looked forward to new travels, hoping they would not include anything having to do with a gas tank. Kim and Mary had also recovered nicely, and the four of us had a great breakfast at the Palazzo del Capitano.We were all very pleased with our rooms. Tracy and I were in the Leone (I’m a Leo), while Kim and Mary were in the Gemelli (Gemini), since Mary was a twin, and Kim and Mary are parents of twins. Below is a sample of the rooms from the hotel website.
The breakfast room was gorgeous, and we met couples from Oakland and Germany.
After breakfast, we walked into the back garden of the hotel, a huge space with lounge chairs, tables and an abundance of beautiful flowers. It was a great area! It looked exactly like I envisioned the previous day while fretting at the gas station.
I don’t know if it was the beauty of the garden or the knowledge that I was going to get behind the wheel again, but Kim and Mary said they were going to spend the morning reading and relaxing in the garden, and we told them we’d pick them up in the early afternoon for some more sightseeing.Tracy and I got in the car and drove to our first stop, Bagno Vignoni (less than 10 minutes from San Quirico), the place where people like St. Catherine of Siena and Lorenzo the Magnificent came to sooth their aching bodies in the thermal baths, which had been renowned for their healing powers.
Having already showered, Tracy and I did not need a bath, not that we could have gone in the huge pool in the town’s piazza, anyway. The town was charming, and we spotted a lovely, little restaurant, Osteria dei Leone, that looked very good, and thought it might be fun to come back for dinner here. From Bagno, you can see a fortress high on the hill called Rocca d’Orcia.
In 2001, Tracy, Mary, Kim and I (yes, they went with us on this trip knowing the dangers at hand from a previous journey) had visited Pienza and spent some time in a cheese store eating Pecorino as the lovely proprietress plied us with vino (here’s a photo from that trips).
From that day on, the four of us have been Pecorino fans. It was a spectacularly sunny day, and as we walked around Pienza and smelled the Pecorino from the various shops selling the cheese from heaven made our appetites grow.
We could either stay in Pienza for lunch …
… or go to the town of Monticchiello. We both decided we should head to Monticchiello.
For a tiny town, Monticchiello has an interesting history including one event from World War II. On April 6, 1944, the Prefect of Siena, during the Fascist Republic, dispatched 450 available men to Monticchiello to confront a small group of partisans camped around the town.
The Fascists were forced to retreat, but revenge was on their mind. The next morning at dawn, a German division reached Monticchiello with orders to find and shoot all the inhabitants. Soldiers broke into the houses, rounded up the people and lined them all up against the wall outside the town gate for execution.
Thanks to the intervention from the German wife of one of Monticchiello’s landowners, and the help of a priest, Don Marino Torriti, the execution was averted. A monument now commemorates the event, which is on the wall that had been intended for their executions.
Tracy and I, however, came in peace, of course, nut not before terrorizing citizens with some more erratic driving. Reaching the gate and realizing I could go no further, I proceeded to back down a rather large hill from whence I came (using the reverse ring to accurate perfection).
We walked up the hill to the Osteria La Porta near the gate into town where we were luckily afforded a table on the patio with incredible views and even more incredible food. I ordered Ravioli alla Pecorino. The tomatoes on the Pomodoro Bruschetta tasted like candy.
The ravioli was incredible. We could have dined here for every meal, but a German film crew was setting up to shoot a movie for the next few days, and the restaurant would be closed. An interesting dichotomy, don’t you think? Sixty years ago Germans came to Monticchiello to shoot its citizens, now they were coming to shoot a movie. Quite an improvement, I must say.
Afterward, it was back to San Quirico d’Orcia … …. to pick up Kim and Mary. They looked relaxed and ready to get back on the road. I don’t think Mary had moved, while Kim attempted to straighten out his left arm.
Kim did, however, get up from his siesta long enough to expend enough energy to take some nice grape photos from the expansive Palazzo de Capitano grounds.
Kim reminded me it had been 24 hours since our ordeal, and sure enough it was a distant memory (at least until the bill comes). We took them by the Bagno Vignoni restaurant, took some photos and it was on to the town that you can see from all vantage points in the area, Radicofani.Not surprisingly, Radicofani has a rocca fortress, and we decided that all these medieval people had way too much time on their hands, which is why they kept invading and killing each other. The first thing we spotted after parking was a memorial to all the local people who had perished in World War II.This was also the place where Ghino do Tacco kept the Abbot of Cluny hostage for a while. It’s an interesting story you should look up online. An aside: Ghino had a nice side to him after all, which is why I now call him the Soft Tacco.Radicofani was mostly devoid of people on our visit. They must have known we were coming. We thought they might be out invading other hill towns.We drove back to San Quirico, via Pienza, so Kim and Mary could get a whiff of the Pienza Pecorino at its finest and take in some beautiful views from a Pienza perch.That evening we dined at Osteria dei Leone in Bagno Vignoni, and although the meal was good, it didn’t quite live up to our expectations, except for an excellent risotto. The Nobile di Montalcino was good enough that we ordered a second. Kim was nice enough to serve as our designated driver.
Since he did not drink too much wine (unlike some other guy we know), Kim drove us back to the hotel. We got to bed pretty early because tomorrow we were going to five relatively unknown hill towns that I had researched before we left, and we needed rest.