But first, we woke up Thursday morning and we had the most amazing view of the sunrise. I ran around the room like a kid on Christmas morning. And took a million pictures. I share just one. It's a beaut, isn't it.
So, the first order of the day was breakfast. Croissants! Ham! Juice! Cereal! Yogurt! Cheese! It was pretty nice, and cappuccino made to order. There was even a special little place set for us. It was a very nice breakfast. You can imagine my surprise when I read a review of the hotel on Trip Advisor and someone complained...that there were no eggs. Seriously? This is Italy...not Iowa.
Whatevs. Okay, so this photo below is of the Piazza del Popolo. The piazza of the people. It was really more of a widening in the street. Some of our walking directions mentioned the Piazza and we walked through it and I didn't even realize it. We are standing along the main road looking back at the clocktower. Somewhere along there is the little pizza shop, an amazing bakery, the pharmacist, other little shops.
Alright, so now that I've shown you a little bit more of Montalcino, let's talk a little bit about our day. If you follow me on Facebook, you know that we have dubbed this the day of the dog. But, it started out pretty amazing. Today was about a seven mile walk...we walked from Montalcino to Castelnuovo dell'Abate, small town near the Abbey Sant'Antimo.
The walk was beautiful. We were mostly walking on trails. We were always happy when we saw these little markers...then we knew we were on the right track. Believe me, there were a few times we weren't exactly sure. We did occasionally walk on paved roads, through fields, back roads in the middle of no where.
Below you see the lovely view we had for lunch. We found a tree that had sort of a bench underneath, so we stopped there to enjoy our lunch. Before we had left, we stopped at an alimentari in town (a little grocery) and bought two sandwiches, a couple apples, and some bottles of water. All for like, $4. The sandwiches were big too...just some crusty bread with the most amazing cured ham. That was all you needed.
Our lovely spot overlooked Villa a Tolli, which is a little hamlet of Etruscan origin. The link appears to maybe be for a hotel or something in the hamlet. I'm not sure. When we went through, there was not a soul in site.
There is our lunch tree. This was really the perfect place to sit and have lunch. We never again found such a perfect lunch spot while out and about on our walks.
We continued on our way, having an amazing walk. We saw some fighter jets in the sky! Not much else to say about that, but it was pretty cool. Tuscany was amazing. So many cypress trees, rolling hills, vineyards everywhere. It was everything, EVERYTHING I expected it to be.
Eventually, we came to a farm. Our directions notified us that there would be a large, unchained dog, but if we kept walking it would not follow us. We saw the farmer and someone was talking to him and we saw the dog run towards us. We were not worried. It seemed to be a friendly dog. We made a point of not interacting with it, so as not to encourage it to follow us.
Lot of good that did us.
That dog followed us. And then he'd run off into the vineyards and be gone. And then he would reappear! He be gone for 10 minutes, and then all of a sudden, there he was! We weren't really sure if we were still on land owned by the farmer that owned the dog. We assumed at some point he would turn around and go home. We ignored him...it didn't matter.
Can you spot the dog in the picture below? This is almost all the way to the Abbey. He was still with us.
Oh, there was also this beautiful scenery.
So, here is the Abbey. Which I didn't really get to enjoy. Because of the dog.
At that point, the dog really sort of latched on to us. Until that point, he had sort of been running through fields sort of adjacent to us, but not really "with" us. When we go to the Abbey, that all changed. He tried to follow us in. If we sat down, he came and sat at our feet. It was...annoying. This was not our dog. He had followed us for about 2 km. It was obvious he had no idea where he was or how to get home. There was no leash, and since he was following us around, we looked like irresponsible dog owners. Which we would NEVER be!
David called Giacomo to ask him what to do. Apparently, this had never happened before. The dog had never followed anyone else. Giacomo said he knew the farmer and would call him to tell him where his dog was. But what were we to do in the meantime? We were supposed to catch a bus back to Montalcino. Would the dog try to get on the bus with us? I felt at this point our only option was to find a building with a door into which we could go and hide from the dog.
We'd already had lunch and our little guide book pretty much said that the two restaurants in Castelnuovo dell'Abate weren't all that, but what choice did we have? We had to get away from this dog! We chose to go to Osteria Basso Mondo, which wasn't probably the best choice becausen it didn't have a realy door. Just those fringy things hanging from the doorway.
As I stood there, with the dog, a woman who worked there came out and started chatting with me. In Italian. Which I did not understand. And I was kind of grumpy about the dog. I tried to convey that this was not my dog. I also stated several times that I didn't speak Italian. She was nice, but eventually she went back inside. David and I ordered a cappuccino and some ice cream sandwiches. We like an hour before the bus came, so we lingered and read a book about learning English, which was pretty interesting, actually. At one point, the dog tried to enter, but the woman shooed him away.
When we left the restuarant, he was gone. I don't know what happened to him. I hope he made it home and didn't get hit by a car. Because he really didn't seem to understand cars.
We actually caught the bus right in front of those steps you see in the picture. It was only about a ten minute ride back to Montalcino. We had a nice little chat with a woman waiting. She had a cute daughter. She spoke very bad English; we spoke very bad Italian, so we got along very well.
We got back to Montalcino and wandered around and looked at churches. Here is one of them.
And here is another. This church has a lovely park next to it, and a great spot to overlook the valley below.
See, I got this great panoramic photo. Sorry about all the white space. I can't make it go away.
And here is David in front of the little alimentari where we bought our sandwiches. Yum!
And here is me in front of the hotel. I'd been shopping! See my bag...
So, it was Thanksgiving so we wanted a special dinner. Actually the first thing we did was Facetime with my family. They were all playing Catchphrase. So, we joined in from Italy, which was kind of fun. Then I was sad because I missed my family and my dad was about to sit down with a glass of Scotch and I really wanted some too. Sigh.
We decided for dinner to go to Taverna Grappolo Blu. It had been recommended to us by the hotel, and it had good reviews in our guidebooks and online. So off we went! There were some French people there, enjoying dinner...and us. Later in the evening, an American couple came in with their baby. I know they were American because whens she lifted the baby up, he had a turkey on his butt. We also talked to them later and we all wished one another a Happy Thanksgiving and it was all, "yay America!"
They also had a turkey dish in the menu, but chose this instead. I think it is tagliatelle with mushrooms. I could be wrong. It was very good.
This is David and his rabbit. Rabbit has a lot of bones in it. Lots of little teeny, tiny bones.
For whatever reason, I didn't take a lot of food pictures this night. But this is my dessert, which I hated. I ordered it because it is the traditional dessert. Biscotti wit dessert wine. You dip the biscotti in the wine. I should have known better because I've never had a dessert wine I liked. But, I powered through. The biscotti was very good. And...they do not dip biscotti in coffee over in Italy like we do in America.
It Italy, you never have coffee with dessert. Never. When you have finished your dessert, then they will ask if you would like coffee. I asked for Scotch instead. The waiter looked pretty surprised. But, I'd seen it on the menu and I really, really wanted some. I knew that back home my dad, sister, and brother were all enjoying some Scotch. I ordered the Highland Park 18-year. The waiter brought out the bottle to show me and then poured me a Scotch, neat.
It was awesome. Loved it. I really want to get a bottle for home. I know it sounds crazy, but it will always make me think of Italy. I know...wine should do that.
So, if anyone reading this would like to purchase me a $120 bottle of Scotch, please do so.
Oh, here is David outside the restaurant. It was so charming.