Friday, September 19, 2008
Montepulciano is our base for Central Tuscany. It is not a "destination city" with all kinds of activities or excitement such as Venice, or Amsterdam. It's a small city (town, really) with only about 2000 residents within the borders of the old city - the rest of Montepulciano's residents live outside the walls of According to Emma at Rime, our gelato shop, most of the buildings here in the old city are now holiday homes for tourists. One wonderful fact about MonteP, as we call it, are the wonderful views looking down on the Tuscan countryside. Lucky for us, our flat has those same views.
As with our bases (Haarlem, Krakow and Ljubljana) there is a similarity in that you get comfortable with your surroundings, kinda like an old pair of jeans or that sweater that has holes in it. The umpteenth time you walk the same street, you feel more a "part of it", different than the "day tourists" snapping pictures of alleyways. Our pic taking here was on days one and two when we were new to the place. We "live" here now. You wave to the bartendress at the Wine Bar. You have a conversation with Antionella at the wine shop. You engage in "conversations" with Italians who know almost no English, like Mio, the owner of the gelato shop, who in fluent Italian described his shop as original from the year 1150. The restaurant recognizes lisa when she makes reservations. It feels good to know the town a bit better. Avocet got her haircut here, at Luli's. She had two hair stylists working on her at once. Nice doo, Av!!!
MonteP is a base....a base for day trips to Siena (see Siena's blog post), Montalcino, Perugia, San Gimignano and Pienza. Our car parked out front now has 1000miles on it from the time we left Venice. Sometimes having these day trips diminishes the desire to investigate new things to do in our base. As with other "bases", we will do an intensive sightseeing the last day or two to catch-up.
We have spent quite a lot of time in our flat. We have had three days of rain during our stay here and it's raining again right now. If it rains at home, we stay in. Same way on the trip. Our apartment here defines homeyness. A description... the interior walls of this place are about fifteen inches thick and the outer walls eighteen. Large beams, original to the building constructed in about 1700 (new by MonteP construction), span the ceiling with a terra cotta brick. The floors are also a terra cotta stone. Very nice and rustic furnishings. But also modern "nice" with a PC AND wi-fi, so we can have two people on-line at the same time.
We have needed this connectivity because we have had unexpected changes in future air flights (six to be exact), an almost failed attempt to book an African flight to replace a nine hour bus ride that we have decided not to take, Paypal rejecting our payment for a guesthouse in Laos, and major difficulties in booking a train out of Bangkok. Without two systems in place at once, how could the girls play on Webkinz??? lisa doesn't think of MonteP in my warm terms. She thinks of it as the place where everything blew up and had to be put back together.
This place is also where we hit the three month point. It lacks the newness that Haarlem had at it's early stage of the trip. It's also on the cusp of Africa, where we will arrive in eight days, a place we are all anxious to see. So Montepulciano lacks both newness and anticipation. Just like that old pair of faded jeans.