After a week in Rome, we picked up rental cars at the train station, stocked up on groceries for the week, and drove to Montepulciano, a Tuscan hill town.
We like to stock up at Auchan, a French hypermarché chain. Rome has several branches. In American terms, it’s a big box store like a Costco. We especially like grissini (thin Italian breadsticks) wrapped in snack-sized bags, and we were excited when we found them again.
Arriving at our Montepulciano apartment felt like home. For the third time in ten years, we rented this apartment for a week. For our first trip, we looked for
- Comfortable one-bedroom apartment
- Hill town in southern Tuscany or Umbria
- Serve as a base for day trips to Florence, Siena, Cortona, Perugia, Assisi, and more
- Local wine
- Walk through town in the evenings
- Near the A1 tollroad between Rome and Florence
We found all this, so we kept coming back.
This map shows Montepulciano (red pin) and the surrounding cities and towns (blue pins) we visited on our three trips. Future posts will cover what we did on this trip.
Here’s the view from our bedroom. Hill towns can have great views!
Here’s Montepulciano at sunset. The buildings are a travertine color, painted red by the setting sun. On the right hand side, the dome of San Biagio church is lit by the sun while the body of the church is in shadow. In the foreground, there are olive trees and grape vines. On our final evening, as the sunlight faded, we drove madly down a dirt road, looking for a spot with a clear view of town and the church. We found this spot, and my wife took a few pictures as the sun went down.
We don’t speak Italian, but we felt comfortable starting with our first visit to Montepulciano. When we arrived, we couldn’t find a road into Montepulciano — it’s a walled town on a hill. We’d drive uphill and discover that the road narrows to one lane out of town — frustrating. An elderly couple stopped to help. They spoke no English. We told them the name of our landlord, whose last name is Stuart. The man said Stu-ar-tay and smiled. He motioned for my wife to get out of the car. (The back seat was full of groceries from Auchan.) He climbed in and used hand signals to show me how to drive into town and to our apartment. His wife walked my wife up the one-way street into town, and we all met at the apartment.
On our second trip, our landlord wasn’t at the apartment when we arrived. From our first trip we knew that his travel buddy owns a nearby restaurant. We ate at the restaurant and talked to the owner. He said our landlord was out of town, so he called our landlord’s mother. She let us in.
On this trip, we had a cell phone with the Italian SIM card we purchased in Rome. Third time’s the charm.