Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Weekend Recap

My parents were here for a few days, and over the weekend they rented a car so we could see some of the surrounding area together. On Saturday, we drove to Riccione, on the Adriatic coast to the east of Florence. My mom had gone there 40 years ago on holiday, and she wanted to see what had changed in the meantime. Since it was October, and the bathing season had ended, there weren't very many people there (the same can't be said for the summer), and those that were there did the same thing we did: stroll along the beach and go have lunch in the pedestrian area (I had a very good combination of seafood pastas).
On the way back to Florence, we stopped by San Marino, one of the smallest countries in the world, perched on top of a mountain surrounded by Italy (and yes, Italian cell phones are in foreign roaming in San Marino). Unfortunately, we were in a bit of a rush to get back to Florence, since we had opera tickets for that evening, so we did a half-hour "Europe in two weeks"-style tour of the city. Still, the city was quite nice (though very touristy), and the views from the top of the rock would have been breathtaking had it not been for the extremely hazy day. In the end, we made it back to Florence in time and enjoyed a decent performance of "Tosca" at the Teatro Comunale.
The next day, we got up early again and drove into the Tuscan hillside south of Siena. Our first stop here was Montepulciano, old hill town and famous for its wines. Here we walked up (always up!) to the cathedral, with famous triptych and della Robbia altar, and old town hall and were rewarded with some great views into the countryside. On the way back to the car, we picked up some bread, cheese, cured meats, and of course local wine, and then drove a few minutes to the church of San Biagio on the outskirts of the town. After viewing this Renaissance masterpiece, we set up our picnic in the olive groves overlooking the church and enjoyed our lunch.
Sufficiently strenthened, we continued our tour to the town of Pienza, a few kilometers further. In this town, on the UNESCO World Heritage list, we admired the Renaissance center with its cathedral and palazzi, designed by Rossellino for Pope Pius II (he of the Piccolomini library in the Duomo of Siena). In addition, we bought some of the famous Pienza pecorino, which really is a cut above the usual Tuscan pecorino.
Finally, we continued through beautiful countryside to the Abbey of Sant'Antimo, a Benedictine monastery near Montalcino. A fabulous romanesque church from the 12th century with some nice stonework inside, the late afternoon light was perfect for our visit. From here it was only a short drive to Montalcino, another hill town famous for its wines (especially the excellent - and expensive - Brunello di Montalcino). Since it was already dusk, we didn't see everything of this town before driving back to Florence, but perhaps we'll be back again for the sights and the wine.

1 comment:

dqjkin2000 said...

For lunch in Riccione, I had corn pizza. :)