Lessons Learned – some pleasant, some not

Last night G-man and I were out walking when we decided to stop by our favorite produce place.  Why is it our fav?  Well, because it’s close to our apartment, the produce is beautiful, and, most importantly, the people who work there are WONDERFUL!

First off, for the unfamiliar, buying produce here is a different process from buying in the States.  At the little produce stores, the shopper does not touch the merchandise.  Tell the shopkeeper what you want and they pick it out.  For CASL (Castilian As a Second Language) speakers like ourselves, fruit and vegetable words were not at the top of our essential vocabulary list.  Our produce shopping involves pointing, saying a number and reenforcing the crappy pronunciation by holding up the appropriate number of fingers.  After about our fourth or fifth time in there, out of the blue, the young guy that normally helps us spoke to us in English.  Broken, heavily accented, beautiful English.  My head whipped around and my mouth hug open.  Seriously, I almost hugged him.  That simple, kind gesture sealed the deal.   We will forever buy our produce in that shop!  He simply asked, “where are you from?”  We chatted back and forth a bit, us with our horrid Castilian and he with his few words of English.  It was awesome!  Ever since that moment every time we stop in we get treated like friends and, the best part!, they teach us new words!  They’ve never spoken English to us again and we appreciate that as we need every opportunity to learn Castilian.  I think they get it.

Ok, so back to the story….   We’ve learned the words for celery (apio), asparagus (espárragos), sweet potatoes (patatas dulces) and onions (cebollas – say-BO-shas, not say-BO-yas).  But, tonight we needed none of those things. Time for a new lesson.  By now, all the clerks know we don’t habla well, so they all speak slowly and help teach us new words.  I love them!  Last night we bought bananas (yep, exact same word but with different pronunciation), péras (pears – and yes they are delicious, sister-in-law-love-of-my-life), and arándanos (blueberries).

bananas peras & arándanos
bananas peras & arándanos

And then for a less than pleasant lesson…  Ever since we got back from The Wedding, we’ve noticed an unpleasant smell in the apartment coming from somewhere in the laundry room area.  The putrid smell of stagnant water.  Like, sewer water.  Really gross sewer water.  I assumed that since the laundry room had been closed up for a week and the sun beats on that side of the apartment, maybe that’s what was causing the nasty aroma.  The smell seemed to dissipate after a day or two of the room being opened up and running a couple of loads of laundry.  But this morning when we walked into the kitchen, the smell was back.  With a vengeance.  Like, how many dead bodies that we can’t see are piled behind the washing machine?  Holy cow!

I’ll save you the details of the discovery process and cut right to the lessons learned.  We have five bathrooms in this apartment (yeah, the company did us right – more on that later).  We are two people.  We only use two of the bathrooms.  We keep the doors closed to the other three and forget about them.  We have NEVER used the bathroom right next to the laundry room.  What we discovered is when water is not been regularly run in the fixtures of said unused bathrooms then the water in the drain pipe in the floor stagnates giving off said horrific odor.  Once I figured that out, I went around to each of the unused bathrooms to run the water in the sinks, tubs, and, oh for good measure, why not include the bidet as well.  You don’t see too many bidets in the States.  For those of you unfamiliar, you’re meant to sit on the bidet, turn on the water spout that shoots water up at a surprisingly impressive rate from the spout in the center like a water fountain one might see in a park and give your nether regions a little refreshing splash.  YouTube it if you can’t visualize the process, then come back and continue reading.  To help set the stage for the next lesson, I’ve included the picture below.

the source of Three Stooges entertainment
the source of Three Stooges entertainment

That little floor drain off to the right is where the offensive odor emanates from.  The big white toilet looking thing is a bidet.  The little silver thing dead center of the bidet is where water shoots out at the rate equivalent to that of water coming from a fire hose putting out a fire at a fire works factory.  The nozzle at the top of the picture is what one uses to turn the water off and on AFTER one has placed one’s backside above the water spout.  Anyone want to know what happens when one unwittingly leans over the bidet and turns on the water full force?  One gets a thorough cleansing of one’s head and chest.  Lesson learned.

Random Observations on Our New Life in Buenos Aires

Here we are into our eighth week living in Buenos Aires.  Right up front I have to say we haven’t put much effort into truly becoming invested in and exploring our new home town.  When we arrived in mid-October, we knew we were going back to the States 1st December to see our son wed his beautiful bride.  (More on that later!)  Our focus has been elsewhere.  That being said, I do have a random collection of observations that I’ve made in the totally distracted short time we’ve been here.  In no particular order –

On speaking Castilian

Right off the bat – in BA, the language is referred to as Castellano, not Español.  Growing up in Florida and living in Atlanta for 15 years, we’ve been exposed to A LOT of Spanish.  None of it sounds like the language of the porteños, as the locals like to call themselves!  Double Ls are pronounced like “zha,” not like a y.  To a CASL (Castilian as a Second Language – I just made that up) speaker, that tiny difference creates an entirely new language!  Fortunately, every single local that we have met has been kind and sweet and gently helped us along.  Truly, every encounter we have had has been lovely.  And then there are somethings that don’t need translation….

Somethings don't need translation...
Somethings don’t need translation

 

On food

The produce available is exactly that which is in season.  Novel idea considering where we come from everything is available year round.  Friends and relatives who know our passion for coffee, brace yourselves.  The local coffee, at least at our neighborhood Cafe Martinez, is better than the local Starbucks.  It’s tastier and less expensive.  And another huge bonus to life in BA?  There’s nothing you can’t get delivered.  Food of all sorts, ice cream – yeah, read it and weep, and groceries, too!  That’s right.  When you finish your grocery shopping for an extra $5 or so, you can get it delivered to your house.

We haven't met a pastry we didn't like
We haven’t met a pastry we didn’t like

On architecture

We love the old stuff and our neighborhood is full of it.  Beautiful old houses.  Gorgeous old shops.

Drool worthy streetscape
Drool worthy streetscape

Sometimes there will be an entire block of old houses, but most times what we see is a gorgeous old belle squished between boring boxy high rises.

old & new
Old & New

I never stop trying to image what the streetscape looked liked before the neighboring old buildings were torn down to make way for the new.

On dogs

Before we arrived, we heard quite a bit about the copious amounts of dog poop on the sidewalks here.  However, much to our pleasant surprise, it really isn’t that bad.  Every now and then we’ll encounter an “obstacle,” but no more than we would in the States.  Buenos Aires is a city of dogs.  We see them everywhere, in singles, doubles, and variety packs.  Dog walking is a major business here.  And!  The vet will come to your house.  That’s right!  Our friend, Margarita Maria, has a vet who comes over for the regular check ups, shots, whatever.  Oh, that must be awfully pricey, you’re thinking.  Nope.  She pays less then we would in the States.  A lot less.  I had some great pictures of dog walkers walking their packs, but I can’t seem to find them.  So here’s a picture of a dog enjoying a little time at an outdoor cafe.

Who doesn't like a sidewalk table?
Who doesn’t like a sidewalk table?

On the Tango

If you know how to Tango, you can do it just about anywhere!

Day 18 – Rome on Foot

Wow.  After our little Twilight Stroll with Walks of Italy last night, we decided that we wanted to try to retrace our steps and take pictures of some of the things we saw on the walk.  We also decided that Rome is so full of things that interest us that we would make ourselves insane trying to get to all of them.  No kidding here.  If you have never been to Rome, you just can’t imagine what it is like to walk a few blocks and come across something of interest or historically significant or both.  We decided we really needed to limit ourselves to a small area and take our time exploring and enjoying it.

For breakfast this morning, we went back to Espressamente Illy, the place we had coffee yesterday afternoon.  I had a cappuccino and G-man had an espresso.  Here, they call espresso coffee.  He ordered a plain cornetto and I ordered the one with cream.  He should have gone with the cream one.  He got another plain one and I got one with nuts and cream.  Oh wow!  I should have gotten about 15 of the ones with nuts and cream.  Delish!

After breakfast, we spent the day walking and taking pictures and being totally overwhelmed by Rome.  Rome is packed with people just like any other big city on the planet.  The main streets have sidewalks.  The other streets may or may not have a white line painted along the outer two feet designating that space for pedestrians.  Scooters and motorcycles seem to be more popular than cars, but whatever they are driving they are battling each other for position on the road.  Yes, Roman drivers are as insane as the stereotype indicates.  The exhaust fumes are awful.  Either Italy doesn’t have any emissions laws and/or testing or the majority of the populations chooses to ignore them.  The buildings are black from the air pollution so I can just imagine what everyone’s lungs look like.  And speaking of lungs….everyone smokes.  OK, maybe not everyone.  We counted four people who weren’t smoking at the time we saw them, but three of them were in strollers and the fourth was getting a diaper change.  After having spent two weeks in a small town in Tuscany, we were dealing with extreme culture shock.

Here’s a bit of what we saw as we wandered the city.

Trajan's Column
Trajan’s Column
Columns in Trajan's Forum
Columns in Trajan’s Forum
More old columns
More old columns
Sometimes you have to build around columns
Sometimes you have to build around columns
and more columns
and more columns

This isn’t a column. It is an obelisk. But if you’re a country big on columns and you have an awesome army and you conquer another country that is big on obelisks, you can take their obelisks back to your column loving country. Italy has more obelisks than Egypt.

Egyptian obelisks
Egyptian obelisks

When you aren’t making columns, make some statues. Oh, skilled statue makers they were! The intricate detail a person can carve into stone boggles the mind.

Being a statue can be worrisome
Being a statue can be worrisome
This guy carries an obelisk on his back
This guy carries an obelisk on his back
Another statue
Another statue
Statue angst
Statue angst
Not a happy statue
Not a happy statue
Another stunning work of stone
Another stunning work of stone
Being a statue is a thankless job
Being a statue is a thankless job

Crests. Crests are very important. If you want people to remember you, slap your crest up everywhere. They, too, are fantastic stone works. What skill.

You can always tell a Pope's crest by the crossed keys
You can always tell a Pope’s crest by the crossed keys
A different Pope's crest
A different Pope’s crest
A third Pope's crest?
A third Pope’s crest?
More crossed keys
More crossed keys
Extra fancy
Extra fancy
more
more
and more
and more
Not a crest, but WOW
Not a crest, but WOW

As if all that stone beauty wasn’t enough, they do fountains, as well. Here’s a thought to ponder while you are looking at these…what did they do when they messed up? I don’t mean when they might have hit the chisel one too many times. I mean when something fell off. What’d they do??? I imagine stone isn’t a very forgiving medium.

I did NOT take this picture.  G-man did.
I did NOT take this picture. G-man did.
What is the message here?
What is the message here?
Still not sure what is going on
Still not sure what is going on
mmmmm....yeah, not sure
mmmmm….yeah, not sure

And no matter where you go, you can always find pigeons.

yeah, just hanging out
yeah, just hanging out
No respect
No respect
seriously - can you not see this horse is busy
seriously – can you not see this horse is busy
excuse me, get off my head
excuse me, get off my head
how do expect to slay something with a pigeon on your head
how do expect to slay something with a pigeon on your head

Day 17 – Off to Rome

We were up early this morning as we were turning in the key to the apartment at 0815.  It was pouring rain when we woke up which did not bode well for all the walking we were going to have to do within the next few hours.  I checked the weather radar and all of central Italy from coast to coast was covered with a big rain cloud.  Ugh!

We had to have the rental car back to Hertz in Orvieto by 1000.  G-man was able to make that little Fiat 500 break the sound barrier.  We made it to the Hertz place with minutes to spare!  The turn in went smoothly even with the language barrier.  From the Hertz office, we had an easy three minute RAIN FREE walk over to the Orvieto train station to take the train to Rome!  I just have to say those little tiny wheels on suitcases were not made for stone roads and sidewalks with granite curbs.  Just wanted to point that out.  We managed the self-serve ticket machine all by ourselves and after a bit of trial and error and trying three separate machines managed to validate our tickets so we wouldn’t get slapped with the big 50€ fine.  Yes, boys and girls, the conductor walks the train between stops and checks tickets.  We watched one couple have to fork over some euros due to the error of their ways.  The train ride was uneventful other than we bought first class tickets and sat in second class because there wasn’t a first class car on the train.  Meh.  Right after we got off the train, it started to rain again.

Hello Termini station.  We aren’t in Montepulciano anymore.  Sheesh.  Termini station is a mess.  There are two groups of people in Termini station.  The group who are trying to get from point A to point B and the group trying to sell a bunch of junk.  This is the one time I’ve been thankful for being born with a mean face.  If I’m not smiling, I look angry.  For once, it was a good thing.  No one would approach us.  We got a few looks, but then they would turn and go after someone else.  Brilliant!  Loved it.

By the time we made our way out of the station, the rain had stopped.  This time it was permanent.  YAY US!  We had a quick walk to our apartment in Monti.  Turned out there was a bit of a snafu about what time we were meeting our new landlord, Fabio.  It was entirely my fault.  I had somehow told him we would be there at 1500 and here we were standing in front of the door to the apartment at 1300.  God has smiled on us this entire trip.  What happened?  Our new landlord happened to be walking up the street.  He was meeting the cleaning guy for the apartment.  He threw our suitcases in the apartment and, even though it was my fault, he treated us to a coffee down the street.  We agreed to meet him back at the apartment at 1500, so after coffee G-man and I wandered around the neighborhood.  Wandering around the neighborhood lead to turning a corner and catching a glimpse of the coliseum.  Goosebumps, people!  Yes, imagine looking down the street and seeing a part of a world famous landmark framed by the buildings lining the street.  It took our breath away.  Needless to say, we managed to keep ourselves distracted until 1500 by strolling around the coliseum.

At 1500, we met with Fabio.  He walked us through the apartment, showed us the ins and outs, and gave us the keys to our home for the next four days.  This apartment may be the smallest of the three we have stayed in over the course of our trip, but it many ways it is the best.  Everything is brand new.  The shower is big enough that I can raise BOTH arms to wash my hair.  The kitchen is a hoot!  It is so tiny – as in, I’ve seen campers with bigger kitchens – that when G-man stands at the sink one shoulder touches the wall and one shoulder touches the cabinet.  But, it has absolutely everything we need.  Fabio has got “use of space” down to a science.  I’ll post some pictures soon.

After Fabio left us, we got our stuff organized, freshened up, then set off across town to meet our tour at the top of the Spanish Steps.  This was our first of three tours I scheduled through Walks of Italy.  It was the Twilight City Stroll with Gelato.  Our group consisted of two sisters from Belfast, two sisters from Australia, a family of four from Australia, a young woman from Long Island, New York, and our tour guide, Georgia from England.  Georgia was dynamite and adorable and I wanted to adopt her!  She’s probably in her mid 20s and is a walking fact machine on Rome.  She told us about the Spanish Steps, then took us to the Trevi Fountain (yes, we did throw our coins in the fountain), and then Pantheon.  After the Pantheon, she introduced us to Della Palma gelato!  The place has 150 flavors of gelato.  It was a madhouse!  It was a madhouse not because there were 150 flavors, but because the gelato is delicious.  Truly the best gelato we have had all trip.  After gelato, we went over to the Piazza Navona where she taught us everything there is to know about the Fountain of the Four Rivers.  She is just brilliant.  There was not a single question we asked that she could not quickly answer with authority.  We finished up the tour about two hours later at Campo dei Fiori.

Taking this tour was one of the best accidental ideas I had planning this trip.  Honestly, the only reason I signed us up for it was because Walks of Italy was running a special.  I got a discount for signing up for three tours.  The discount made this tour almost free.  I figured it would be an easy way to get our bearings on our first night in town.  It was, indeed.  So, that idea worked out perfectly.  Georgia, however, was the cherry on top.  Her depth of knowledge made the whole event so much more than a simple walk-about tour.  I cannot praise her enough.  Unfortunately for the rest of the world, Georgia is returning to England next month.  The tour world will never be the same.

I’d love to show you all pictures from today, but we didn’t take our cameras around with us.  Fear not, we will make up for it over the next few days.

Days 15 & 16 – Some More Montepulciano

DAY 15

Thursday was an easy going day in Montepulciano.  We took a food inventory, figured out what we needed to make two more breakfasts, two more lunches, and two more dinners.  We made our list and walked over to the Conad.  I managed to put only one extraneous chocolate thing in our basket!  We came back to the apartment, where we spent most of the day taking care of odds and ends in preparation to going to Rome on Saturday morning.  Finally by about 4:00 in the afternoon we were both getting stir crazy and needed to get out.  The G-man suggested going for a gelato.  Who would argue with genius??  I love this guy.  We went up the hill (everything is UP the hill) and both got a large cup.  G got all  pistachio, which he did not think was as good as La Musa in Orvieto, and I got part chocolate chip, part hazelnut, and part tiramisu.  I liked the tiramisu and the chocolate chip, but the hazelnut tasted exactly like a hazelnut, of course, and not like Nutella.  I kind of think everything should taste like Nutella.  After gelato, we decided it was so nice out we should go get our cameras because there might have been one or two stones or windows we had not yet photographed.  We spent a few hours snapping, then went up the hill to the west side of the wall to watch the sun set.  The clouds were magnificent!

Montepulciano Sunset
Montepulciano Sunset
THESE COLORS WERE NOT ENHANCED!!  It was beautiful.
THESE COLORS WERE NOT ENHANCED!! It was beautiful.
Making the walk back home...down hill!
Making the walk back home…down hill!

DAY 16

Friday, we have been preparing to leave for Rome tomorrow.  We washed all our laundry.  Laundry is quite an event.  Each load in the washing machine takes two hours.  The inside of the washing machine is about the size of a Dutch oven, so we can’t wash a bunch at one time.  Until today we were hanging our clothes out to dry, but because of the rain and humidity it can take two days for the clothes to dry completely.  On one of our walks earlier in the week, we discovered a laundry mat with dryers!  So we took all our wet clothes to the laundry mat and splurged on the dryers at 4€ each.  It was money well spent as all the clothes were dry within 30 minutes.  After laundry time, we can home and the G-man prepared fresh pici and Bolognese for lunch.  I promise we could eat that stuff every day for a while before we ever got tired of it!  We ate lunch then packed all our stuff.  We are ready to dash off in the morning for Orvieto where we will turn in the rental car then catch a train to Rome!

This evening we are meeting Jennifer for dinner one more time at the La Bottega.  Ok, later.  G-man just made toast with Nutella.

Nutella on toast!
Nutella on toast!

Day 14 – Sovana, Another Etruscan Necropolis, and an Accidental Visit to Pitigliano

This morning we set out to see some more Etruscan tombs situated southwest of Montepulciano in the area of Pitigliano.  We never take the same road twice if we can help it and today was no different.  This lead us to experience some Italian mountain driving that made me hold my breath a few times.

One of the things I’ve noticed since we have been here is a certain level of personal responsibility a person is expected to have.  For example, why waste money on guard rails when ultimately you are the idiot for driving off the road and you probably won’t make that mistake twice.  If you survive, you’ll be more careful next time.  I would show you pictures, but I was too white-knuckled to even think about picking up the camera.  Another perfect example is the cobblestoned streets and sidewalks.  Yep, they are lumpy and, no, there isn’t a smooth trip or stumble-free surface to be found.  If you fall down, you’ll be more careful next time to mind your step.  Personally, I think it is wonderful.  Sorry for the detour.  Back to the Etruscan Tomb adventure.  With Mario “G-man” Andretti at the wheel, we managed to stay on the hardtop and not experience any cliff driving, which may be very similar to cliff diving.

The Etruscan Tombs in this area are the most significant in Tuscany.  G-man studied ancient history in college, so he was looking forward to finally seeing up close and personal the very things he had only read about.

As we approached the area, it was close to lunch time so we decided to swing into Sovana and eat before continuing on to the tombs.   Lesson learned the hard way, if you don’t take the time to get lunch during the designated lunch hour, you will be looking for your lunch in a grocery store.  When the restaurant is full, there is no standing around waiting for someone to finish up and make a table available.  You just pretty much go away and look elsewhere.  Alrighty, so keeping the 1:00 p.m. custom in mind, we knew we had to find a place quickly or do without.  We pulled into the parking area at Sovana, walked down a little path, and emerged onto the main street.  Not just the main street, the only street.

Sovana consists of one street that may be all of 600 meters long.  On Google maps, the birds’ eye view shows three streets all running parallel to each other.  The street in the middle, Via del Duomo, is THE street.  The other two are more like service roads and one of them isn’t even paved.  More about Sovana in a minute.  Let’s go to lunch.

Sovana has several restaurants.  From what we could tell by walking the length of Via del Duomo, only two were open for business.  The first one we went in was a pizza place.  We saw several already made pizzas in a display case with about a dozen flies getting their fill.  We walked out and went to the other place on the east side of the piazza.  Yes, you are allowed to have one piazza in a town with a 600 meter street.  We ate our lunch at La Tavernetta.

La Taveretta
La Taveretta

The place wasn’t very crowded so we had our pick of available tables.

La Tavernetta, Sovana
La Tavernetta, Sovana
La Tavernetta, Sovana
La Tavernetta, Sovana

From what we could tell, this is a family run place.  Husband cooks, mother waits tables, and wife acts as hostess.  Sweet, sweet people.  No one spoke a word of English, which made the experience that much better.  Mama explained the menu to us, what our options were, and let us know if she agreed with our choices.  We ordered the prix fix menu which included an appetizer, a pasta dish, and either a quarter bottle of wine or a half bottle of water for 10€.  We both chose the bruschetta appetizer and the wine.  G-man opted for the polenta with meat sauce and I had the pici with Bolognese sauce.  Pici is the local pasta noodle – think very fat spaghetti.

La Tavernetta - I love the little pitchers of wine
La Tavernetta – I love the little pitchers of wine
La Tavernetta - the bruschetta appetizer
La Tavernetta – the bruschetta appetizer
Polenta with meat sauce
Polenta with meat sauce
Pici with Bolognese
Pici with Bolognese

After lunch, we went to the eastern end of the Via del Duomo and took a look at the ruins of the Fortress of Aldobrandeschi. Not much remains other than a tower and part of a wall.

Sovana Fortress
Sovana Fortress
Sovana fortress
Sovana fortress
Sovana Fortress
Sovana Fortress
Sovana Fortress
Sovana Fortress

There wasn’t much to see of the fortress, so we decided to walk to the western end of the street.  In the piazza which is about at the center of town, we looked at the Palazzo Pretoria which dates to the 13th century.  From the looks of it, all that remains is the façade as I could see sky beyond what appears to have been the front door.

Front door of the Palazzo.  I'm kind of thinking there isn't anything on the other side
Front door of the Palazzo. I’m kind of thinking there isn’t anything on the other side

Next door to the palazzo is the small church of Santa Maria Maggiore that dates to the 12th century.  There are amazing frescos inside.

Santa Maria Maggiore, Sovana
Santa Maria Maggiore, Sovana
Santa Maria Maggiore, Sovana
Santa Maria Maggiore, Sovana
Santa Maria Maggiore, Sovana
Santa Maria Maggiore, Sovana
Santa Maria Maggiore, Sovana
Santa Maria Maggiore, Sovana
Santa Maria Maggiore, Sovana
Santa Maria Maggiore, Sovana

The western end of the street is made up of residences.

The east end of Via del Duomo, Sovana
The east end of Via del Duomo, Sovana
Clock tower in the piazza in Sovana
Clock tower in the piazza in Sovana
The west end of Via del Duomo, Sovana
The west end of Via del Duomo, Sovana

So many of the residences look exactly as they must have hundreds of years ago.  This tiny village gave me the impression this must be how every other town started out; a single lane built around a church.  Some of these little places grew and grew and others didn’t.  We are glad we stopped there.  It was a neat experience.

About a kilometer west of town is the Etruscan Necropolis.

Citta del Tufo
Citta del Tufo

We parked at the tiny ticket office, paid 5€ each and were provided a map that showed how to get to the various archeological sites.  The tombs date back to between the 4th and 6th centuries BC.  As a layperson, I will tell you that if I did not know what I was looking at then I would see a bunch of rocks.  The area is heavily treed and the rocks are so eroded that had what is there not been pointed out to me, I don’t think that I would have recognized what I was seeing.  I think I could certainly tell that humans had chiseled the rocks, but I would not have known that the little stumpy thing was the base of a column.  I think you get what I’m saying.  Fortunately, each site was well marked and well described.

The Tomb Ildebranda - the most famous Etruscan tomb of Sovana
The Tomb Ildebranda – the most famous Etruscan tomb of Sovana
Those lumps are what is left of the base of the columns.
Those lumps are what is left of the base of the columns.
Etruscan tombs carved into the rock
Etruscan tombs carved into the rock
Etruscan tombs carved into the rock
Etruscan tombs carved into the rock

Beyond the educational aspect, we both tried to wrap our minds around the idea that humans, our ancestors, had created these monuments to their dead loved ones so long ago that we cannot fathom the passage of time.  I can’t even pretend to imagine that kind of time.  2,500 years.

We started on our way home and keeping in line with the idea of not taking the same road twice, we accidently drove through Pitigliano.  Holy smokes, people!!  This is a place to spend some time in!!  This is the granddaddy of all the hill towns we’ve seen so far.  The place is built on a rock.  And, excuse me, is that a real Roman aquaduct?  Wow. Just wow.

Pitiligiano
Pitiligiano
Pitigliano
Pitigliano

Day 13 – More Montepulciano

We had a beautiful day in Montepulciano.  The weather cooperated for the most part.  Actually, the rain stayed away until about 17:00.  We had just been sitting at a table in the grand piazza talking to Jay from Texas, said our good-byes and the drops started.  The grand piazza is at the very top of Montepulciano.  Our apartment is at the very bottom!  We ran down the streets until we got to the coffee shop at Piazza Erbe.  We dashed in only to join others who had sought shelter.  We were greeted with big smiles and lots of Ciao Ciao Ciao (you aren’t allowed to say it just once) from our barista.  We really like this place.  They are such sweet people and the espresso is the cheapest in town at 1 euro a cup.  Also, they make fantastic hot chocolate!  We threw back a quick espresso and waited a few minutes to see if it would let up.  Not much luck, so we ran a little further down the street to the wine bar that is right around the corner from the apartment.  Yep, we had a lovely glass of the local super Tuscan while we waited for the rain to let up.  Finally, we got a reprieve and made it the rest of the way home.  Here are some of the hundreds (no exaggeration) of pictures we took today.

I love the flowers in the windows
I love the flowers in the windows
the beautiful texture of old
the beautiful texture of old
the grand bell tower
the grand bell tower
would you want that face watching you go in and out?
would you want that face watching you go in and out?
more flowers in the window and we can't get enough
more flowers in the window and we can’t get enough
notice the window on the left is painted on.  This building on the main street is for sale...
notice the window on the left is painted on. This building on the main street is for sale…
see the date?
see the date?
one of the openings in the old town wall
one of the openings in the old town wall

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ceiling of the temple of san biagio...currently having some kind of restoration done
ceiling of the temple of san biagio…currently having some kind of restoration done
the grand piazza
the grand piazza
the flowers of Montepulciano
the flowers of Montepulciano
taking a break on the church steps
taking a break on the church steps
more...more...more
more…more…more
more window flowers
more window flowers
another one of the locals
another one of the locals
someone had stucco'd over it
someone had stucco’d over it
store display on the main street
store display on the main street
One of the local characters
One of the local characters
what is she thinking when she turns back to look at him?
what is she thinking when she turns back to look at him?
he is quite the lady's man
he is quite the lady’s man
Found this fresco on the ceiling of a building that has been divided into apartments
Found this fresco on the ceiling of a building that has been divided into apartments
simple beauty
simple beauty
yep, they make and use these brooms.  it's not just a decoration
yep, they make and use these brooms. it’s not just a decoration
the beautiful texture of time
the beautiful texture of time
Worn beauty
Worn beauty