Under A Tuscan Sun

Tuscany1

Italy is my new favorite country!  Just when I thought this place couldn’t get any more beautiful than the stunning views from the Amalfi Coast we get to Tuscany and see the gently rolling hills laid out like a patchwork quilt of grape vineyards, olive groves and sunflower stalks.  Unfortunately the sunflowers are not in seasons so we are not dazzled with their brilliant yellows, but we see their replication in every other painting or ceramic work in the surrounding old towns.

Hotel Montage edit

We rented a house (above) for four days in a small Tuscan village called Bucine and used that as our home base from which to explore delicious wineries and historic old towns.

Nobile grape 2

Amazing vineyards……this shot is from Palazzo Vecchio near Montepluciano.

Nobile Grape

The wines were very tasty using grapes of the local Nobile variety.

Montepulciano, Tuscany

The old town of Montepulciano was beautiful as well.

church bathed in light

I can’t get enough of how amazing these Tuscan old town walls look bathed in the late afternoon light.

Montepulciano sunset

And the, of course, there are the sunsets……

Brunello wines

We also journeyed to Banfi with their famous Brunello grapes (not to be confused with the more expensive Piedmonte Barolo grape)….

Cortona

and visited the towns of Montelcino and Cortona.  Incidentally, for you movie fans out there, Cortona is the setting for the film “Under The Tuscan Sun” and Montepluciano is one of the locations for the filming of “New Moon” the 2nd “Twilight” installment.  Both movies have brought much tourism to each town……good for the town, bad for us tourists.

Some random and perhaps amusing observations about Tuscany….

First, garbageman does not appear to be a profession in Tuscany.  I mean they must have people to come collect from the garbage dumps, but individuals have to take all their garbage to the communal garbage bins themselves.  This photo is of Francesca delivering our garbage (like good rental tenants), but I thought it seemed funny (funny Haha, not strange, well both actually) to see these old Italian villagers driving their cars to the recycling bins.

Fran & trash2

Second, in many parts of Italy they have 24 hour unmanned self serve gas stations!  I went to one on a Sunday afternoon when it was “closed” but the pumps still work.  You just put in your money and pump your gas.  Now, the problem occurs when you pay in cash and you don’t use exact change.  The machine doesn’t give you change, but only a receipt for how much the gas costs and how much you paid and you have to return when they are “open” to get the change back or redeem it for more gas from the human gas station attendant.  I learned that one the hard way.

Lastly the Italians have lovely knockers.   Here is a knocker montage for your enjoyment.

Italian Knockers2

Okay that’s it for now.  I’ll be posting about Florence and Lucca tomorrow hopefully.  I’ll leave you with this iconic shot of Tuscany and hope to upload more photos to flickr in the next day or two.

Sunflower

In Retrospect (September 13, 2010):

Tuscany was definitely one of the highlights of our RTW trip.  It was nice to not be in a hotel, but rather to be living like locals, shopping in local markets and cooking Italian food in our own kitchen.    The sunsets were among the best we saw on our entire trip.   I remember driving through the countryside while Francesca slept in the front seat, not knowing where I was going, but just following the setting sun.  We ended up in Montepulciano and I woke Franny up so she could see the bright reds and oranges of that burning fire ball as it fell behind the trees.  I couldn’t stop taking photos of it.  Here are some of them.  Enjoy.


Before Francesca and I left on our trip we decided to purchase some quality art work to adorn the walls of our future apartment in Los Angeles.  When we got to Tuscany we fell in love with a ceramic pot – well as much in love as you can fall into with a ceramic pot.  But after returning to the store three times we decided against it what with the vicious exchange rate and all.  We thought about that damn pot through three continents and while we did end up making some nice art purchases, we still regret not buying that potterial gem.  Here it is.  <sigh>

Okay, so in retrospect maybe it wasn’t all that and a bag of chips, but hey, we’ll always have Tuacany.

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