TOSCANA-Italy I (2003)

TOSCANA (Italy 1)

This is how we spent a vacation.
We flew to Rome by THY on a beautiful October morning..
We took our places in the bus that would take us to Sarteano, the place we will stay in Toscana. Poggio Bianco is a holiday resort near Sarteano, where Italians make that visitors enjoy the tourism activities in connection with the agricultural products, they call ‘Agrituristica’. Ranch houses, or we should better say villas, have been built on the vast area in between the mountains of Val d’Orcia, Valdi Chiana and Cetona on a hill overlooking the valley, including the Trasimento Lake as well. It has a fascinating view. Four of the villas in this endless piece of land have been decorated preserving the traditional Toscana style and they have considered visitors’ comfort in every aspect.

Before we bring down our suitcases, we see our hosts greeting us with warmth and smiling faces and they invite us to the open buffet prepared near the pool. While we drink champagne and nibble some food, we find ourselves in a deep chat and forget all our travel fatigue. The sun shines pleasantly. We feel the autumn season on each corner of nature. Then we go to our houses. After settling down quickly, we depart for our first visit that afternoon.

Our first stop on the Valdichiana valley is Chianciano Terme. This is a quiet town with thermal baths. There are many hotels there. This is a place where old people fill the roads and the parks because of its quiet and clean roads and healthy waters. We take a walk on the wide and beautiful pavements. Then we proceed towards the flower park situated in the middle of the town that resembles a forest. We eat ice cream here and attend the dance show we have heard on the announcement. It is in fact a beautiful but a melancholic scene.

All the inhabitants and the hotel customers have gathered there. Almost everybody is old, but well kept and healthy.

They enjoy the music of the orchestra. They dance and enjoy making new friends. While drinking tea and eating our ice cream, the atmosphere a little affects us and we also feel those future days at the back of our necks… The long white haired accordion man leaned his plump belly to his accordion plays a cheerful melody.

We get on the bus and depart for the old village, Montepulciano.  They have built the village with limestone roads within thick city walls during the years 1500. It has been adorned by renaissance styled palaces and churches inside the city walls, and has become famous with its Nobile wines.

As we walk on the abraded pavements of the village, the sun softly creeps away through the city walls. The multicolour geranium flowers, hanging from the flowerpots placed inside the windows and stairs, shine brightly. We take our dinner at Poggio Bianca, where we stay. To avoid the humidity of the evening and sweet chilliness, our hosts have set our table inside the pool house surrounded with glass walls. In fact, we are very lucky, as we have caught the Indian summer in October.

We have a pleasant dinner but the look in our eyes gets shadowed, the fatigue of the day suppresses and we walk back to our houses over the damp grass.

2. Day

We gather beside the pool and eat breakfast through coffee smell. We will go to Pienze today. On the way we stop over at the historical Fattoria Pulcino, a place transformed from a monastery to a family-run restaurant where they sell local wines and products. Some of us buy souvenirs; some prefer to smell the fragrance of the air under olive the trees in the garden. We take photos.

Passing through an old gate they open for us with rusty keys, we go the lower floor that they transformed to a church.  We smell mould, bacon and sour wine and look at the old objects and antiques on the exhibition. Our reflections on the endless well are cold and scary. On the Monastery’s front side of the upper floor, used as a restaurant, there is a super terrace overlooking the valley. We get on the bus and proceed for our next stop, Pienza, which is a typical renaissance town. It is famous as the best-planned Renaissance town. It is the most beautiful center of settlement on the Orcia valley. We take lunch in the garden of the La Buca delle Fate restaurant against the valley view. Homemade wines and hand-cut macaronis flavoured with special sauces are delicious. Together with the beautiful weather and the pleasure of the sun, everything is most fulfilling. Other towns of this valley are Bagbno Vignoni and Moltancino. We stroll down in these towns until the latest light of the sun, visit the old churches while tasting the olive oils and the wines produced. We once again admired human labour here. We rested in the cool stone courtyards of the cafes.

We take dinner at Sinalunga da Locanda dell Amorosa. This historical town, which was 30 kms. to where we stayed, has survived from Etruscans to Romans.

3. Day

We are now in Sienna. If Florence, with its David sculpture, had not been the first tourism attraction, Siena would be the most beautiful city of Italy.

It is known with its Palio at Campo Square, where horse cart races take place even presently and the church and its gardens. They have completed the construction of the church with enormous labour and time. As we live in a digital era:

Here is a website from which one can observe this beautiful city from a panoramic view. Bird’s eye view photo of the Palio, taken from the famous bell tower; you would feel dizzy climbing here….

Duomo (The Cathedral) is extraordinary with marble panels and the black and white marble works at the external side of this unique construction. One gets stunned. With its elegant Opera building and many museums, Siena is such a full city that one cannot complete visiting it in one day. We regret our time shortage. We spend a full day in Siena, where there were boutiques reflecting the good Italian taste, chic pastry shops in which you can always find small sandwiches made of soft white bread and tasty cream cakes. In the evening, our group meets at the Mangia Restaurant at Campo Square. We spend the day once again with enthusiasm in this restaurant, famed with its wines and its food mainly of Toscana kitchen.

On the way back, sleeping sounds arise in the bus.


 to be continued

 Tülin Erkaya
Italy - October 2003 






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