Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Volterra, Monteriggioni and Montepulciano

This past weekend we did two days trips. Saturday we drove up to Volterra and on our way home stopped in Monteriggioni. Sunday we drove down to Montepulciano and to Lake Trasimeno.

Volterra is supposedly rated high for places to see, and Monteriggioni is a fortress on a hill we see each time we drive home from Florence (so it has piqued our interest for a while). Volterra was nice and situated high on a hill, but nothing too great. We walked around the duomo and baptistery first and then ventured to Piazza dei Priori. After realizing there was no opportunity to climb up anything for a better view, we decided to venture down to the Saturday morning market. After buying some fruit and basil plants, we decided to head back up for lunch. Along the way we found a scenic overlook of the valley and of the Roman Theatre. After lunch we found the famous Etruscan gate, Porta all'Arco. We found another scenic overlook on our way back to the car and then headed to Monteriggioni.

Pictures from Volterra

Monteriggioni was right on the way and always looked interested, so we set our course for this fortress on a hill. This town is small, but nice. There was a wedding going on so many people were mulling around the piazza. We walked in to a few shops, watched the wedding party come out, and headed home for dinner after a long day. We didn't take many photos as we expect to come back; and next time we visit I plan on viewing the hillside from their wall-top walkway.

Pictures from Monteriggioni

On Sunday we got up and drove down to Montepulciano. This was a nice little town high up on a hill. We made our way up to the piazza near the duomo. We saw that people were viewing the hillside from the tower so we quickly climbed up for some photos. While it didn't really get us that high, it was still some good views. The duomo here is pretty nice and luckily for us the organ was being played while we visited. After eating some lunch, we got on the road to head to the lake.
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Pictures from Montepulciano
Video #1 of the organ
Video #2 of the bells

Lake Trasimeno
This is the largest lake in Italy's peninsula. We drove to what is the nicest beach on the western edge of the lake, Castiglione del Lago. Of the beaches we have seen in Italy, this was probably the nicest so far. There was some real sand, surrounded by a large grassy area and the water was very warm. Although the edge of the lake is seaweed, mud and clay, once you venture out 20-30 feet, it becomes much more clean; this is where everyone hangs out. We played at the playground and in the water for a couple hours then ventured back home.

So I learned while in Montepulciano that both this town and Volterra were the setting for a recent, popular movie, T_wilight. While I was not real familiar with it, it seems many people are. We learned that while it is supposedly based in Volterra, it was actually partly filmed in Montepulciano. As small as this town is, I can't imagine what it was like filled with h_ollywood types.

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