Friday, June 12, 2015

The European Trip, Day 6 - Montepulciano on the way to Modena

A late start for the Chang gang today.  Most of us didn't wake up till after 8:00 AM and we didn't clear quarters until after a leisurely breakfast provided by the hotel.

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:

The interior of the above church wasn't as ornate as some of the previous churches we'd seen in Rome and Pompeii but it was still impressive:

Did I mention I'd picked the one spot furthest from the main piazza?  All uphill for the most part?

Near the city walls

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.

Miles found himself a "souvenir", a bag of noodles
with an "unusual" shape.  I'll let him describe them later on.
photo by Martha

Man, we could have used a couple of these scooters
on the way up!
photo by Martha

The sign says: The Guard/Custodian
Seen at the front door of a shop in town
photo by Martha

You have to wonder.....

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.


Bluekat said...

Love the street views and the interiors of the old churches. I do find it hard to believe you picked out a route that went a long way uphill. :)

RichardM said...

What a beautiful area. Italy is definitely on the barely existant "list". How do you like the Renegade besides it's small?

Trobairitz said...

Martha picked a great detour for lunch. For some reason it looks familiar as a place Roland and Sonja had been in their travels, but then maybe they all look alike to my foreign eyes.

redlegsrides said...

Funny Bluekat...funny.

RichardM, the Renegade is fine, first gear is very low when you want a fast getaway...and that is often here in Italy when trying to cross intersections or exiting driveways.

Trobairitz, yes she did good. As to things looking similar, we're starting to think the churches are similar.

ToadMama said...

So now I'm really jealous. Montepulciano is my favorite Italian red. I would have loved to see that town. Thanks for sharing. The uphill walk would have done us in, and the defibrillatore may have come in handy!

redlegsrides said...

Kathy K. Yes, a good spot for a lunch stop, good idea by Martha. That is one disadvantage to liking castles, they're all sited on high spots!