Thursday, September 1st, proved to be an incredible day. Having taken Wednesday off, all four of us we ready for some more walking action and the day was perfect for it (although, in all honesty, there was a lot of humidity coming up from the very wet ground). We had a fairly restrained sampling from the breakfast buffet before we headed out one of the city gates at about 8:30 a.m. One of the lessons we are learning is that it might be better to skip the hotel breakfast in order to make a slightly earlier start on these warm days. We haven’t actually implemented this lesson but we think it might be a good one . . . for some future trip.
For me, this walk was the most beautiful and enjoyable of the trip. The countryside was unbelievably beautiful and incredibly varied. The morning light was enchanting and it is a shame that my snapshots don’t do any of it justice. We had plenty of ups and downs over our 14+ kilometers but, even as sweat was dripping off our noses and chins, it seemed more doable than on previous days. Not that it wasn’t tiring. At one point towards the end, the walking notes said something about the track “dropping down” and I read it as “drooping,” more a comment on me than the track.
During one relatively short stretch through a semi-wooded area, we noticed quite a number of squashed toads on the road. Since we hadn’t seen a vehicle of any sort for a very long time, we couldn’t understand how so many of the buggers had gotten run over. We decided that they must be so bored with their toady lives that they purposefully wait to cross the road until a vehicle is approaching; either a dare devil enterprise or a suicide mission.
At another point during the walk, when I remembered to breathe through my nose, which I try to do once in a while, the air smelled of Fairbanks in the fall. The scent was exactly like that of high bush cranberries. I didn’t see anything that accounted for the scent but even Michael commented on it.
Our walk took us over a “small stream” that was running at a much higher level than normal due to the rain. Hardly a torrent but it was challenging for Michael with his unreliable right knee; once he got over his rather tentative start, he did fine but thank goodness for walking poles.
As we approached Montepulciano, which is high on a hill, we kept going down. It was one of those “what’s wrong with this picture” moments. The final ascent up past the church of San Biagio and into one of the town gates was a doozy but we all made it without too much grumbling or andmuttering of foul words.
Once in the town, we were treated to a concert on the Piazza Grande by an itinerant Italian singer, Alessandro. He was quite good and the music elevated our ham panini lunch to a level at least as high as the hill on which we were perched. We found our coppersmith and were delighted to see that he is still working and producing some of the most beautiful copper implements we have ever seen. We are having a gorgeous, grape shaped wine chiller shipped home. An anniversary present to each other.
Michael and I took a taxi back to Pienza; Cindy and Paul stayed for several more hours to do more exploration and they caught the bus back.
More gelato at Buon Gusto: Paul and I had the raspberry sorbet; Michael had the melone and decided that a with a slice or two of good prosciutto, it would have made a fabulous antipasto.