Okay! It’s been a while. On March 2nd our program decided to take us on a day trip to Montepulciano, in Tuscany! Montepulciano is a very famous hill town notorious for their amazing wines, and olive oils. I was unsure of what to expect from Tuscany judging by our itinerary alone. We had scheduled wine tastings, and a date with a thermal bath so I was not about to let this one pass!
I must say that the Italian country side is BEAUTIFUL, I mean I’m unsure how these people living there find their way to civilization but the land and the mountains with the gorgeous scenery really throws you off when you’re coming from somewhere like Rome!
We get to Montepulciano and we are just amazed how gorgeous this scenery is. We didn’t even know how to take pictures because the scenery was just BREATH-TAKING we didn’t know how to catch it all. There is no other way to get to Montepulciano other than bus, or car. The Italians drive like wild animals, so the way this bus was taking every turn on two wheels going up this steep mountain had us all on the edge of our seats.
We get into the town and instantly set off to find a wine cellar. These little wine shops are very very small; just like your average wine shop. Nearly every one of them had an underground wine cellar that imperialized the size of the wine shop above it. The barrels ranged from small to enormous, and the entire cellar smelt of the amazing grapes. We got a brief education on wine, and how it was made and the significance of aging and how what kind of wood makes a difference on the taste of the wine. We had two wine tastings coming up so we knew we would learn more then.
We had a few hours to explore the town, go into some shops and purchase some souvenirs and get a load of the stunning vantage points. I found an alley way that lead out to the gorgeous open space with a perfect picture of the horizon, I felt the soft cool breeze hit my face and I really took in the beautiful scenery. Others on this excursion joined in taking pictures of the scenery, but my biggest surprise was when I turned around and saw that this vantage point was actually called Viccolo DelleMura. My astonishment quickly turned to flattery when the reality set in that my last name was in this beautiful countryside town; I felt like I belonged here.
Our excursion continued, it was wine tasting time! our director of the wine tasting had very broken English, so the history and significance behind the wines we were trying were very hard to understand. HOWEVER, it was quite delightful. We tried two red wines, and they taught us ‘how’ to taste wine instead of just chugging it like the Americans we are. These techniques were based on taste, smell and visual traits. Red wine isn’t my favorite, but these were pretty good! I tasted one and immediately thought of my parents and how much they would love it. I hope when they come to Italy they will have the opportunity to try this wine. For those who are traveling to Italy, sending out a bottle of wine to the States is VERY expensive, about 72 EURO’s not including the wine itself.
Our second stop was lunch, where we were scheduled for another wine tasting with our meal. We took about a 30 minute bus ride to the bottom of this mountain we were on and sat down for lunch. More large pieces of bread accompanied with this out-of-this-world olive oil; it made you want to marinate your bread in its richness. We tasted three wines, both red but at the end of our meal we tasted a ‘dessert’ wine. I had this dessert wine in Florence and from what I could remember it tasted like Jack Daniels. Skeptical about trying it again, my expectations were blown away by the difference between the two. Montepulciano’s dessert wine was FAR more sweet and tolerable, it almost tasted like candy!
To finish off our trip, our program arranged for us to enjoy a thermal bath. About another 45 minutes on the bus, and we arrived at the gorgeous spa. We received a huge, white fluffy robe, along with slippers and towels for a few hours of total relaxation. We jump into this bath anf the water is a total thermal heaven. It was about 85 degrees and shallow enough to wade through. Various fountains and waterfalls surrounded the pool that were used to place your neck, shoulders, and upper back under to release any tension or knots. I was blown away by these thermal springs I found myself in, I recommend anyone that is going to Tuscany, to make sure you find a place where you can take a thermal bath; it WILL be the best decision you’ll ever make.
Now that we were all zen and relaxed, everyone slept like a baby on the way home from Tuscany. Definitely was a very much needed day for the lives of busy travelers!