Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bellissimo! Exploring the Tuscan Countryside

Tuesday 26 June
After another hot mosquito-bitten night CJ and I went for a run at 8am on mainly flat (for a change) country roads. We found some nice quiet back roads - plenty of guard dogs barking, paddocks of sunflowers and a few tractors narrowly passing us on the narrow roads.
Distance: 9km
Time taken: 54.5mins
Average pace per km: 6:06
Calories: 533
It was quite a pleasant run in spite of a tired body but it was still very hot even then and I headed straight for a refreshing shower back at the farmhouse. After brekkie we drove to Montepulciano in our car. We saw some interesting sights including a group of unicyclists coming down the steep hills!
Montepulciano is a delightful little town set high amongst the hills with lots of cute shops and duomos (churches) and restaurants. We stopped at a lovely little restaurant, recommended in The Lonely Planet Guide, overlooking a great view from the terrace. We had a light bruschetta follwed by a torte della Nonna (seems appropriate for me) which is a type of cake sprinkled with pine nuts with a creamy custard-type filling and very yummy.

There's a large number of wine tasting places with samples of yummy nibbles along the way and many shops containing paintings and various works of art. The weather was a lot cooler today, in fact there was even a very light sprinkle of rain which made it much more pleasant for walking. It was surprisingly easy to fill up a pleasant afternoon and later we drove through the Tuscan countryside in search of a little house set on a winding narrow road lined with cyprus trees which appears in heaps of postcards and calendar covers all over Italy. It was quite exciting when we eventually found it and could take photos of the same setting although in an obviously different season. It was a much longer windier trip home due to a few detours.

In the evening we drove back into Cortona for a beautiful meal in a very fancy over-priced restaurant where I chose a lamb shank - it just melted (can lamb melt?) in the mouth, with roasted spinach and pine-nuts. I couldn't fit in dessert!
Wednesday 27 June
There was a light breeze today and it was quite pleasant. This morning Mr B joined CJ and I for a run. We went over a similar route to yesterday incorporating a few different country roads coming across a pretty cemetary and fields of corn. I felt a bit sluggish today, in fact I'm struggling to regain any speed and I do need to run off all thse extra calories! Lack of sleep here is creating a bit of problem with my energy levels I think. At least that's my excuse!

Distance: 8.8km
Time taken: 54:15
Average pace per km: 6:12 (even slower than yesterday)
Calories: 514

Today we drove to Castiglione de Lago, about 20mins away, where we explored some busy little markets which are only open on Wednesdays. We found lots of interesting little food shops specialising in cheeses, cold meats, pasta, oils, herbs etc. There were free tastings readily available. It was a pretty little hive of activity with of course a castle by the lake. After an expensive meal last night we decided to buy ingredients to cook our own meal in the evening.

Later in the afternoon we drove back up to Cortona to the very top to have a good look inside San Margareta's Church - fabulous, enormous, gorgeous high domed ceilings and Saint Margaret lying in state in the front of the church. We also headed up to the fort but as it was late in the day it was closed for visitors but we did notice someone up there peeping out looking rather distraught. We understand they lock up without checking if anyone is inside and I believe the rescue people had been called - would loved to have known the outcome of that poor man high in the tower - sounds like some sort of fairy story!

In the evening we had another united effort with our meal and it was superb. Mr B even bought a little griller in the supermarket so he could grill our veges the right way. This time we had oil and bought great wine. A great spaghetti dish with porcini and herbs bought from the markets with basil, mozzarella and tomato salad, toasted herb bread, grilled veges and assorted Italian biscuits for dessert - very successful!
Thursday 28 June
We all stayed in bed a bit longer this morning having a restful break. Then at about 10am we walked down to Camucia township where we discovered markets being held. Suddenly the quiet little town came alive.
We are planning to drive to Assissi very soon for another interesting day ahead.


  1. still not talking to you two.

  2. "couldn't fit in dessert" I don't believe it!

    I agree with iliketoast - I hope you get another flat tyre or locked in a church!