Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sessions Italy tour 2013 - Montepulciano - our first Tuscan town!

April 7th 2013
Today we went to pick up our rental car to start the next leg of our trip - Tuscany! We rented a car for the last two weeks of our trip so that we could really get around and do what we wanted. If we saw something that we wanted to pull off the road and go see, we could! We really enjoyed having the freedom, and also not having to rely on the train schedules. We went to the Hertz rental agency in Tremini station in Rome. The train station is amazing! Very clean and modern. Great shopping! I had to pay 1 euro to use the bathroom, but that meant that they were really well attended and clean. :) We had to walk to a garage down the street from the rental agency to go pick up our car. We followed the direction the guy gave us in broken English and found the garage, but then we realized that we didn't know how to get our car or what car we were supposed to get. We ended up finding the little office and our car was just getting washed. ;)
Our rental car - the Qashqai!
We were happy that our car wasn't a little Fiat! My parents said that theirs was hard to get up to speed with all of the hot rod drivers in Italy. We used GPS on Garrett's phone to navigate us around. I was the one who would watch the map and Garrett tried to stay out of the way of the crazy fast drivers there. This was definitely an experience! Our first stop was snacks/lunch at a gas station called Autogrill off the autostrada. The Autogrills are ALL over the place! If I wasn't sure if I was in love with Italy yet, I now knew!! Even their gas station food is AMAZING! I had a fresh salad with mozzarella, anchovies on it and Garrett got some pasta from the pasta bar! Yes, a pasta bar at the gas station! They even have a condiment area with big jugs of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for you to use on your salad! 

From there we drove to our first hilltop town... Montepulciano! I love saying that name. ;)

This was our first view of the town. How gorgeous is that! 

We only booked a few hotels in advance throughout our trip, so most of the time, we would arrive in a new town, get our bearings, and then looked on Trip Advisor, or to find us a hotel for the night. This was a really fun part of the adventure because it was really hard and stressful to try to book all of that in advance without knowing anything about the places we were going! So once we figured out how to park (down below the town) we made the long hike up to the top of the town. It was so quaint and it felt like we had gone back in time! 

Before our trip when I was doing research about where to go, I saw a wine cellar with really really old wine in a cave in their cellar and I was hoping that we would be able to go somewhere to see that when we were in Tuscany. It turns out that within the first hour of being in Tuscany, I did get to see it! This winery called Contucci at the top of Montepulciano was open and you can just walk right in and tour their cellar!

And there is the wine cellar cave! I wonder what that wine tastes like!
I think Garrett thought he was in heaven! The wine barrels that are this big are from Croatia.

They filmed the Twilight Movie "New Moon" in Montepulciano!

The piazza at the top was gorgeous! The church and tower were so cool and very old. 

This is the view of the city from the top of our hotel.

The hotel we stayed at was called Il Riccio - which translates to The Hedgehog.... kinda random. :)
It was a beautiful hotel with an even better view! There was a rooftop terrace to go out on and soak it all in. 

This was the view from our hotel room window!
 We enjoyed the sunset and a nice bottle of wine up on the terrace before we went to dinner.

We ate dinner at a little restaurant called Osteria del Conte. 
Here we had black truffels on our pasta, our first bottle of Prosecco of the trip and we also tried grappa for the first time. Everything was very delicious!

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