Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mud and Mist



Another sunny day in Tuscany. Look at all that mist.
Friday morning it was time to head to San Quirico d'Orcia, which for the life of me I still have not figured out how to pronounce. Giacomo told us at one point, but I forgot. I really had trouble with any Italian word with  "c" or a "g" in it. The walk to San Quirico would be about 8.5 miles.

 I was a little sad to leave Montalcino. There were other restaurants I wanted to try, shops I wanted to visit. This means I will just have to go back there someday. I'd also really like to visit more of the enotecas. All for next time.

So, I haven't mentioned this yet, but the day before, I had started to feel a bit of a sore throat. Often times, this is how a cold starts for me. Sore throat for a few days and then the miserable congestion starts. One of the nice things about the Scotch the night before was that it numbed the pain. I was hoping that my throat was sore because I was dehydrated, but when I woke up Friday morning and it still hurt, I knew that wasn't the case. After breakfast (there was only a table set for us, so I am confident we were the only guests in the hotel the night before), we left our luggage in the lobby and hit up the pharmacy.

I'd managed to buy sunscreen there the first night, and the pharmacist was so friendly. The morning pharmacist was equally nice! I had learned how to say "I have a sore throat" in Italian and she then pantomimed if I wanted a spray or a lozenge (I wasn't sure about that...she looked to me like she was putting on lipstick). I opted for the spray and we were on our way.  Well, sort of. We had to make a quick pit-stop at the fortress to use the restrooms (free and very clean. It is important to know theses things when traveling overseas). 


Friday morning was market morning, and what a market it was! You could buy everything there...laundry detergent, toilet paper, shoes, clothes, curtains, table cloths, as well as fruit, vegetables, meat.  It was like a Target store outdoors. We wandered a long, back to the gate at the opposite end of town, and then were on our way.

It was very misty that day. It really was beautiful. I have another photo from two days earlier of this same spot. In this picture, Tuscany seems to have disappeared.


The mist was our constant companion on this walk. At times, it made it hard to see where we were going, but we managed. We skimmed the directions and also noted that we were not supposed to encounter any dogs that day, so we were happy.


Much of the walk was through  some fields with a very muddy road. It was very muddy. Some of the fields contained vineyards, some appeared to have been recently tilled. We also saw this lone cypress tree. Hello, cypress tree!


We also took the opportunity to take a nice little romantic picture. Awww....


This is one of my favorite pictures of the entire trip. This farmer was tilling his field. The air had that smell of fresh dirt. We had passed many farms along the way, and occasionally would see a farmer, but for the most part, we didn't run into too many people.


As I've mentioned, it was VERY muddy. This is the bottom of my shoe. I guarantee you it looks exactly like the road we were walking along. We stopped every now and again to scrape mud off of our feet, using rocks, fences, whatever we could find. All the mud was a little over the top.


We saw these signs several times on our walk. Turns out, we were walking the same route that many pilgrims walked in the past, the pilgrimage route from France to Rome, although many consider the starting point to be in Canterbury. Canterbury tales, anyone. It's the Via Francigena. Here's another link. So, we were walking the same route as many others. I wonder what they thought of the mud? It is pretty amazing to think of all the history that there is in Europe, and just how many thousands of years it goes back.



When we got close to San Quirico, we decided to take a little break and eat the paneforte we had purchased that morning at Pasticceria Mariuccia in Montalcino. This was amazing. We also bought some paneforte at a grocery store in Florence, but it was nowhere near as good as the paneforte we bought at small bakeries in Tuscany. This was very rich, and I was glad we had only gotten one slice to share. I'm not 100% sure if what we got was the panefote nero, the pan pepato, or the torta maria. Now that I look at the website, I'm not so sure.


We had this lovely view with San Quirico in the distance as we ate. I could have sat here all day. It was warm, the sun was shining, we could hear the church bells in the distance.


But, we really did need to get on our way. I was anxious to get to our next hotel, and then hopefully find someplace where I could get some gelato (would be good for my sore throat.

So off we went...and below you see the entrance to San Quirico (from our direction anyway). The town is surrounded by a wall and we went through the gates, up some stairs, and then followed the main road. I loved the directions the tour company gave us. When you get to the top of the stairs, there are 5 streets, and you take the third from the left. I don't know why I liked that, but the directions were so easy to follow.


This church would have been the first thing any pilgrims saw when they entered San Quirico. This is the Collegiate Church of San Quirico and I really can't find too much about it online. But you can read a little bit about it in this article about San Quirico. I also found this nice little artcile about San Quirico.




We arrived at the hotel and a very nice woman helped us to our room, brought us some bottles of water (we must have looked thirsty), and then let us know to come back at 3:00 to check in officially. It took quite some time to get that message across. All I understood was they needed our passports. But, we figured it all out, I had a nice shower (yay!) and then we were off to explore San Quirico!

It was actually still nice and warm. I was happy because I got to wear my lighter coat and was thus not too terribly bitter that I dragged it all over Italy and hardly ever wore it. It was a very small town, but we saw some cute little food shops, a teeny-tiny microbrewery, and lots of places to eat. There was also a visitor center and outside was a map and more information on the Via Francigna.

 
 
And here is one of the other churches in San Quirico. This is the church of Santa Maria Assunta. It is one of many church named for this saint, and I couldn't find too much information on it. It was built in the 11th century, as I recall it didn't seem to have any electrical light in there, and it was very cold. It did appear that services are still held in there, so maybe there are lights.



Behind the church, is the Horti Leonini. This article has some information, as well as general information about San Quirico. If you can read Italian, you can read the first article. It's a lovely garden, and as I recall, it was partially destroyed by the Nazis during WWII, as were many things in Italy. The statue you see below is of one of the Medicis...Cosimo III, I think.


Alas, we did not find any gelato. But I look cute, regardless, no?







We had another room with a view. This time of the sunset.


We had dinner at Tratorria Osenna. This was probably the only place where I had trouble ordering. I wasn't really sure how to convey that we wanted to share the appetizer and primi and confused the waiter and it was really awkward. But, it all worked out in the end.

I was sort of on a bruschetta kick. This was very good...and I think that crostini on the background has some sort of mushroom thing.


Here's my hubby. It was a cute little restaurant. They also have a really nice garden, but of course it was too cold for that.


So, this was the primi. Raviolo with mushrooms.


And I had some sort of beef salad for dinner. It wasn't what I expected when I ordered it, but it was very good.


David had this beef stew, and it was amazing. I wish I'd had this.


And...that's sort of it for that day. We would be in San Quirico for two nights. Stay tuned.

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