Thursday, February 16, 2012

Our First Ventures Out On Our Own

02/12, Monday
A bright sunny day, still cold. We're on a bus from Chuisi to Montepulciano. In Cetona, a small village along the way, we encounter a truck coming down a hill, on streets still filled with snow. The truck has to back up the hill for us to pass. There are a few plows out clearing the roads and dump trucks to carry away snow. Large olive tree branches have broken off due to the extra weight of the snow. The vineyards make a perfect pattern of straight lines through the snow. Time from Chiusi to Montepulciano took 1-1/2 hours, usually 1 hour, so we plan to catch return bus at 4:30 to be back in time for Sergio to take us home at 7:00pm.

Montepulciano is almost deserted, only a few pedestrians walking up the main street, via Grazziano nel Corso, avoiding cars as they squeeze by. Lots of snow and slush and melt running down the street. A few stores are open and Churches which we visit. We had a leisurely lunch at Caffè Poliziano about half way up Corso, overlooking the valley. I just like saying the name of this town !

Michelle and Sergio invited us for dinner in their apartment. Michelle and Vera prepared three homemade pizzas, each with a different cheese (mozzerella, gorganzolla) and ingredients (radicchio, anchovies, onion, sausage, mushrooms) and a green salad with apple and raisins. A very nice evening and fun listening to their animated conversation. Excellent dinner ! Of course Sergio had to do lots of translating. Michelle, Sergio, Vera and Massimo are certainly adding to our memorable adventure.

02/14, Tuesday, Valentines Day
Chiusi Old Town was our destination for today. It is on a hill about 2 miles from the train station. (We measure distance from the station because that is where Sergio's office is located.)

We had hoped to go to the Cathedral Museum which is the entrance to a labyrinth of underground tombs, but it was closed due to the snow. So, the Chiusi Archeological Museum, right across the street, occupied our morning. The history of Chiusi is fascinating and the various objects discovered during excavations shows such a high level of sophistication way back in the 3rd century BC. Many items found in tombs,including Etruscan pottery with intricate designs and terra-cotta urns shows quite a production existed even before the Bronze Age.

Only a few of the old town shops were open (snow closures), but we found a wonderful osteria, la Solita Zuppa. it had just reopened after a month, with new owners. Homemade soups (onion and pumpkin) and pasta (spinach ravioli and lasagna), a variety of vegetables, and a chocolate mousse served with a sweet dessert wine. A Valentine lunch to remember! Really enjoyed talking with both past and present owners. Spent several hours relaxing in their cozy place.

We walked back to Chiusi Scalo to get rid of a few calories. Sergio always provides our ride home by 7:30. No dinner tonight (we've had plenty of calories), just some tea with honey and a couple of cookies.

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