Montalcino as the first part of a circuitous route around the region of Siena, despite the fact the only write-up Montalcino gets in our guidebooks is that it has good wine for sale. Not to say that it doesn't have great wine, but when we got there that was hardly our focus as it is a beautiful little medieval town with stunning views over the country side.
panforte and exploring the streets before deciding it was time we had some lunch, whereupon we bought ourselves a couple of the best sandwiches ever made from a local deli.
We took our sandwiches up to the fort (Castello di Montalcino), which enabled Montalcano to hold off the irrepressible Medici's longer than any other town in the area, to eat our lunch and take in the views over the town from the ramparts.
At last we managed to drag ourselves away as there was still so much to see and the day was wearing on.
It turns out there was some huge touring club event on and there was several hundred of these classic cars motoring their way around Tuscany. We stayed to watch for a while as the cars kept filing past, but eventually decided we could be there all day if we didn't make a move. A wise decision in the end as when we got to the next town we saw a huge number of cars still to head out.
Abbazia di Sant'Antimo, which is quite nearby Montalcino and overlooked by the town of Castlenuovo dell'Abate.
here, which I won't try to replicate.
Montepulciano. However, knowing we were going to come back some day, we decided to go back to Siena via Le Crete, so as to catch this famous stretch of land at dusk.
At some point, while we were belting along a motorway, we looked at the window and spotted one of those Tuscan clichés - the landscape of rolling hills of wheat, lonely stands of trees, and blue skies with fluffy white clouds. Unfortunately, being a motorway, there wasn't anywhere to stop. Luckily we spotted a break in the safety rails and I slammed on the brakes, almost causing a pileup behind me, and we pulled in for gravelly halt following by the beeping of horns from cars behind.
Whoever owns this land should sell tickets. It really is an incredible spot, bringing together all the elements that make this such a classic Tuscan scene. In fact when we returned to Siena we found this exact spot on many postcards, which is also how I found out the name of the place: Val d'Orcia.
primavera after all), but the light certainly made the most of the fields of wheat.
Getting back into Siena naturally took about 4 times longer than expected, taking us hours to find the right Porto through the city walls, negotiating the Zona Traffica Limita, and finding a parking spot with a reasonably low likelihood of getting booked.
After that little victory we were in a fine mood to take on the rudest-waiting-staff-ever at a local trattoria. Their only saving grace was their fantastic tirimasu.