Thursday, 20 August 2015

Tuscany ... and some happy returns

We were expecting a cool and wet day today so we went to the weekly market at Castiglione del Lago and then to Cafe Alisè for a gelato. For those following my gelati challenge I have now tasted 40 different flavours. Today's new flavours were mango, goiaba (guava ) and biscotino (vanilla gelato with crushed biscuits through it).

The weather warmed up so we decided to cross the border into Tuscany again. From the ramparts at Castiglione you can see Montepulciano in Tuscany on the hill directly down the straight road.

Tuscany is very beautiful but so, so crowded with tourists. We drove straight through both Montepulciano and Pienza because a parking spot would be impossible. Luckily we have been to both places many times.

We thought to have lunch in Monticchiello but again the crowds were very big. The most popular restaurant in this very small village still had people queueing at the door after 2 pm. 

We decided to look around this very pretty village then go on to San Quirico d'Orcia. San Quirico is quite well known to us but today it looked particularly appealing. 

San Quirico d' Orcia is on the Via Francigena walk which goes from Rome to Canterbury. An ancient road and pilgrim route, modern day pilgrims and walkers get their passports stamped as they pass through San Quirico. We saw a couple leaving town with their backpacks and walking poles.

Just by the town gate there is a very attractive garden with modern art sculpures which looked very green and fresh today. Along the ancient wall are scupltural representations on the pilgrim's satchell and the suggestion that you should free yourself from the baggage of life.
How I wish that we had known about these wonderful pilgrimage walking tracks, such as the Camino di Santiago and the Via Francigena, twenty years ago. 

As we turned for home we could not ignore the skies and the threatening thunder storms. Luckily for us it rolled ahead of us and we didn't actually drive in rain. We did however, drive through lots of water across the roads and saw build up of hail beside the fences and gutters. It made for some dramatic scenes, but as usual there are no stopping spots beside the roads in Italy so catching these is near on impossible.

What started out as a quick trip to the market ended up as a very enjoyable trip down memory lane, with new memories created too.

We finished off the day with dinner at Il Gallo nel Pozzo and very good seats for enjoying the last of the music in the piazza series for the year. Tonight's band, Redrum Six, were loud and enthusiastic, a rock band of the old style that had the ladies up on their feet and dancing in the piazza. A great way to close the series of free music for the people.

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