By around 10:00, we were packed and on the road, riding in our rental car, a Jeep Renegade. It's a diesel version, manual transmission and just barely enough room for the baggage! Still, we made do.
It was boring Autostrada (Italy's versions of the German Autobahn and the USA's super highways) driving all day, averaging perhaps 120 kph or so. I could feel my Italian driving reflexes coming back as I drove along too. Pretty soon, the abrupt way drivers from the fast lane would cut into the travel lane as they passed didn't faze me much anymore.
We stopped at the small town of Montepulciano that Martha had spotted on the Michelin road map we had with us, and after some quick research, declared it our lunch stop while in the Tuscany province.
I think it was less than 20 Km to the town from the Chuisi exit on the A1 Autostrada, some twisty portions on this narrow two lane road made for some fun but also almost made Miles get car sick.
We got to town, and managed to snag a good parking spot. Only problem was it was the furthest one from the "Main Piazza" which is what Martha wanted to see, oh well, it's exercise and it allowed us to see quite a bit of the town. We thought the town inside the city walls was a pedestrian zone only but it turns out cars were allowed. Oh well.
It's built on top of a large hill, and is a very scenic looking down from the valley below:
The town is apparently famous for a wine that is made there along with the panoramic views one can see from its walls.
We walked along a short bit and stopped for a quick lunch of salami sandwiches for Miles and I, chicken croquettes and fries for Patrick and a salad for Martha:
Here's part of the view from the table above where we had lunch:
Did I mention I'd picked the one spot furthest from the main piazza? All uphill for the most part?
Finally we got to the main piazza:
There was a large church to the right of the small fortezza or fortress shown above. It had a plain brick facade, strangely enough, but it's interior was quite nice:
We walked back to the car, downhill all the way which was good.
with an "unusual" shape. I'll let him describe them later on.
photo by Martha
on the way up!
photo by Martha
Seen at the front door of a shop in town
photo by Martha
Here's a parting shot of the town from the parking lot:
Back we drove to the autostrada and from there it was boring driving till we got near Bologna, whereupon google maps failed to warn me of the correct turn to take and we ended up losing perhaps 30 minutes back-tracking out of Bologna and headed the right way to Modena via the highway to Milano. It was quite the mess, traffic going into Bologna, apparently, it was the weekend traffic headed for Venice?
We got to Modena and the hotel (really a converted farm turned motel) and settled into our quarters after a quick fast food dinner. The wifi internet access is OK, the people who own/run the place seem friendly. Tomorrow's post will explain why we picked this place. Note, for a converted farm, it's really nice. We're staying in what once was the barn apparently. Basically though, it's a small two bedroom studio, nice.
We'll be in Modena over this weekend, leaving on Monday. We're here to visit with a buddy of mine from back in the day when we both were Lieutenants. I was in the US Army and Massimmo or Max was in the Italian Army. We trained and worked together as part of a NATO team and became good friends then and have stayed in touch all these years. Max lives in Crevalcore which is near Modena.
I'll introduce you all to Max tomorrow.