Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Steps retraced

written 27th March

It is official, the frozen north has thawed - hurrah!

In another trouser leg of time, the plan had been to head north and eastwards from Gubbio to San Marino, the oldest independent state in Europe, then from Ravenna, along the Via Emilia through Emilia-Romagna taking in the sights and delicacies of the 'bread basket of Italy' in its foodie capitals of Bologna, Moderna and Parma.  But that was before we were snowed out of Cinq-terre and then got as far south as Naples and beyond.  And to be honest, having read the books, it sounded like it would be a procession of Renaissance towns, architecture and worthy paintings - which we've had quite a lot of - and places where we would want to eat out where restaurants are expensive and we have had our once-in-a-lifetime Italian meal for this week. 

So we not doing any of that.

Instead, with a few days in hand before our much anticipated lakes-break, we plotted a course in the vague direction of Liguria and headed back to Tuscany, winding up in Montepulciano - apparently used as one of the locations in the new twilight film, so there you go.

Originally circled in the atlas as being in the 1001 places book, but rejected as being 'off route' on our way south, Montepulciano turned out to be lovely, everything we had hoped Montalcino would be and better. 

It doesn't have the striking profile of San Gimiangno (or the world beating ice cream) or the gritty 'real' feel of Pitigliano,

but it had typical streets,

views over lush green tuscan countryside,

an impressive square

and a fabulous cave of a victuals shop where we were lured in by the genial and guarrulous owner with the promise of free entrance, free tasting and, most importantly, free exit.  which of course was not to be, as after several tastings of olive oil, tomato pesto, balsamic vinegar, wines and several types of cheese, which were apparently all from his farm and which were all delicious, we couldn't leave empty handed.  mmmmmm treats

And, as a result of Will's divining with the thingamy, a little bit of internet which we needed for dull house things.  It is quie funny to watch him slowly pace the streets, with the thingamy (for some reason, when it was bought, I couldn't remember 'ipaq' and the name has somehow stuck) poised like a divining rod, waiting for it to metaphorically twitch.  Still, found some and good news!  we have new tenants for our house.  Hurrah!  don't have to come home just yet... :)

And sunshine this time.  And no snow!

After a lovely morning, we headed on again, through the vibrant green ruffled landscape, passing close enough to San Gimiangno to see its distinctive towers plainly recognisable on the horizon..

We got as far as Pisa and, needing petrol, decided it would be nice to see the place not in the snow.  It was dark by this point but obviously they'll light the thing, I mean it is a massive landmark and tourist attraction, surely they'll light it...

but they don't.  which is odd.  The perspex tat towers you can buy in the square are better lit than it is!

So, back to the van and onwards and northwards, hoping for fine weather in the Cinqterre national park....

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