We only stayed one night in Montepulciano, so after Roberto’s breakfast of a small ham, salami and cheese plate, croissants, peach cake, vanilla yogurt, and Cafe Americano, we walked up into the Piazza Grande to see the town bathed in sunlight.
On the square sits the 14th century Gothic-style Palazzo Comunale, which functions as Montepulciano’s town hall. It was remodeled in the 15th century by Michelozzo.
From this large square at the heights of the old town, we had sweeping views over the Val di Chiana and Val d’Orcia.
In the bottom left, we got a glimpse of San Biagio, a church built below the town between 1518 and 1540; it’s an example of Renaissance Greek cross central plan.
The elegance of the Piazza Grande is contrasted with the rough brick facade of the Duomo. Started in 1570, it wasn’t finished until 1680, and even then the facade that had been designed for the building was never completed. The unadorned brick gives the church an ancient look.
Inside we found an airy church with a baptismal font to the left, backed by a beautiful, vivid painted terra cotta sculpture by Della Robbia. The stunning triptych is another highlight, by Taddeo di Bartolo.
We walked a bit more through the town, packed up our car, and left through the town gate, Porta al Prato.
We bid the pretty town farewell.
After leaving Montepulciano, we backtracked over our previous day’s route, admiring the Tuscan countryside.
We took a side trip to Bagno Vignoni, based on a recommendation by Sue, of WordsVisual; she called it a “mesmerizing tiny hamlet.” From the edge of the town, we saw Castiglione d’Orcia, a castle on a hilltop across a valley. Thermal baths and ruins were on the outskirts; we didn’t take the time to walk up into the town.
Apparently Bagno Vignoni has thermal waters of 49°C, classified as bicarbonate-sulphate-alkaline-earthy and hyper-thermal. These thermal waters are used to prevent and cure a great number of diseases of the muscle-skeletal system thanks to baths and mud therapies, and the respiratory system due to inhalation treatments.
It was a sunny day after a series of gloomy ones, so we determined to go back to San Quirico d’Orcia to look for that famous photographed spot. We parked at a spot along a bridge where bunch of people had pulled off to take pictures. We walked on a dirt track that cut through a field and took pictures of cypress tree stands and fields of rapeseed, but we never found that elusive spot seen in so many photos. 😦
By 11:00, we’d left the spot to begin our drive to Umbria. Our destination was Perugia. We passed stunning vistas, olive groves, rapeseed undulating on rolling hills, vineyards, and stone Tuscan houses. We listened to Italian radio in our little Mercedes, and even heard The Police singing “Roxanne.”
By 11:40, we approached Montepulciano again and saw the pretty domed church, San Biagio, which we’d seen earlier from the lofty heights of the town’s Piazza Grande.
We passed into Umbria by 12:15, and then passed a big lake, Lago Di Trasimeno. As we drove, we ate our cold leftover pizza from the night before.
We tried to go to Gubbio. We drove through a number of long tunnels, each time emerging into increasingly gloomy skies and finally rain, so we turned around. We stopped at a fancy Esso station with a waitress, a bakery and very nice restrooms.
Directed by our finicky GPS, we drove around in circles, finding ourselves on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere that eventually dead-ended. We knew we were hopelessly lost, so we backtracked. Finally, we found our Airbnb, where Francesco, father of Ale and Sarah, let us in, but he didn’t speak any English.
Our Airbnb was a “villa with a swimming pool in Perugia,” but it was too cold to use the swimming pool and besides, the pool was shared with the owners.
After settling in, we drove up into the town of Perugia.
*Monday, May 6, 2019*