Italian Road Trip (Part 2, continued): Tuscany

Where: Tuscany
When: June 2015
Hotel: Agriturismo Casale dello Sparviero

The Trip: After a crazy thunderstorm the night before, the morning was amazingly peaceful. For the longest time, I never brought running clothes on vacation because I figured I’d get enough exercise walking around towns that running just seemed unnecessary. But, it turns out that I actually love waking up early and exploring a town by run – when the streets are empty and the sun is just rising. And a run through the Tuscan hills? Yes please!

Stretching pre-run behind the house...probably didn't stretch very well, I was too distracted!

Stretching pre-run behind the house…probably didn’t stretch very well, I was too distracted by all the prettiness!

Running out to the road down the driveway.

Running out to the road down the driveway.

No filter needed!

No filter needed!

Just one more...

Just one more…

Ok..this is the last one! A view from the vineyards behind the house.

Ok..this is the last one! A view from the vineyards behind the house.

After enjoying the sunrise we were off for our first town on the itinerary. Initially, the day included stops in Siena, Montepulciano and Monticiano…but a thunderstorm later in the day amended the plan a bit. But it was beautiful out when left, so we were ready to explore Siena.

I had read that Siena was best explored by making your way to three main sights – Piazza del Campo, the huge main square, then the Cathedral (which literally got “wows” out of both Karyn and me) and then finally winding around to San Domenico…which sort of makes a triangle. The highlight was definitely the Dome – gorgeous. And San Domenico is a bit forgettable on the inside, but has really pretty views of Siena, so it is worth a stop.

Il Campo, the main square in Siena.

Il Campo, the main square in Siena.

Inside the Palazzo Pubblico...we decided not to climb up the tower.

Inside the Palazzo Pubblico…we decided not to climb up the tower.

Il Campo, the main square

Il Campo, the main square

The Duomo in Siena...this both wowed Karyn and I.

The Duomo in Siena…this wowed both Karyn and I.

The front view

The front view

Inside the Duomo...still need to figure out the stripes in the Italian churches!

Inside the Duomo…still need to figure out the stripes in the Italian churches!

View of San Domenico...the view was prettier than the inside of the church.

View of San Domenico…the view was prettier than the inside of the church.

View of Siena from San Domenico.

View of Siena from San Domenico.

A co-worker recommended a trip to Montepulciano, which might have been one of my favorite towns. And that is saying something, considering we got caught in an afternoon downpour. It is not as touristy as Siena or San Gimignano, but just as charming. It’s known for its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a delicious wine – of which I picked up three bottles! The good part of the rain storm was that it “forced” us to do a wine tasting at Contucci Cantina. (We also toured the cellar, but the highlight was the tasting.)

The quiet streets of Montepulciano...much less touristy and just as pretty as the other towns.

The quiet streets of Montepulciano…much less touristy and just as pretty as the other towns.

Pretty main street that runs the length of town.

Pretty main street that runs the length of town.

While Twilight is all about Volterra, the movie was filmned in Montepulciano...and this store was very proud of their role in the film.

While Twilight is all about Volterra, the movie was filmned in Montepulciano…and this store was very proud of their role in the film.

The corner from the movie

The corner from the movie

Love this little house in town!

Love this little house in town!

You are apparently not a real tourist unless you take a ridiculously posed picture...this is an example...

You are apparently not a real tourist unless you take a ridiculously posed picture…this is an example…

Communal Palace in the Grand Square

Communal Palace in the Grand Square

Touring the wine cellar at Cantina Contuzzi

Touring the wine cellar at Cantina Contucci

Mmmm...three bottles came home with me!

Mmmm…three bottles came home with me!

However, the rain “slightly” let up and since we had rain coats, we figured it would be safe to walk…a mistake, we realized, once the front of our clothes and shoes got soaked. At that point, we opted out of visiting Monticiano because we weren’t interested in walking around all pruny!

It seems that Karyn and I were making a habit of having really good last night in each of the places we were staying. At the end of Cinque Terre, we sat on a park bench, watching the sunset, drinking prosecco and having a great conversation. In Tuscany, we took a bottle of wine out to the pool, joined by the crazy house kitty, enjoying the sunset again (seriously, Italy has the most amazing sunsets) and getting ready for our time in Florence!

Perfect last night at the Agriturismo!

Perfect last night at the Agriturismo!

Final Impressions: Tuscany is as beautiful as the pictures portray it to be – maybe even more so. The highlight, for me, was actually driving around and seeing the landscape. I loved the towns, Montepulciano stands out for me. But walking around the grounds of the Agriturismo and sitting, watching the sunset was probably my favorite part of our time in Tuscany.

Bellissimo!

Bellissimo!

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