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Day 14, Chianti (and more)

By the time we packed up and left Florence I think we were all ready for the quiet of Tuscany's wine country, where our next reservations awaited us. Getting there was still a battle, though, as once again our drivers found themselves navigating twisting roads where no roads had any business being, and this time the mountain towns were even higher, hillier, and more tightly packed.

On our way, we stopped at the small Montegrossi winery in the Chianti region for a tour and tasting. It was place of beautiful rolling hills, century old buildings, and traditional practices: we watched as their seasonal help worked to bring the harvest in by hand, filling buckets one at a time, then driving small loads up to the small building with a small tractor.

When we arrived we surprised them by being slightly early (most people, they said, get so lost in the hills that they are notably late), and we had some time to wander the grounds looking for our hosts, who were busy managing the annual harvest then in full swing. Curtis and Calvin took a short jog with with the friendly winery greeter, a dog who was more welcoming than the usual canine grounds keeper, and not at all helpful about alerting his family to our presence. The rest of us wandered, taking in the antiquated surroundings.

Did I mention that the winery was small? Practically the polar opposite of the large scale Bertani site we toured outside Verona, on our tour at Montegrossi we we saw their one room of aging barrels, their one small bottling room, and their one, slightly larger, boxing and storage room. They stand on tradition, and follow organic practices. At the tasting they had only one of their wines still in stock for us to taste, the rest were sold out, the danger of a really good, really small winery.

Then, after getting us the winery on time, the GPS failed us on the way to our final mountaintop stay. I can't blame it, though. The little mountaintop towns all through Tuscany are so steep and so compact that I imagine it was having trouble recognizing what level of town we were on, so that it seemed as though we were right next to the hotel when in reality were several stories below it on a different street altogether. At least, that is what I assume happened. In any case, after a couple of tries, a few hairpin turns and several harrowing navigations of "fall-off-a-cliff" streets, we found ourselves truly on top of the mountain where we were to spend our last two nights.

Magical.  I've used that descriptor a couple of times now, but it's still the best way I can describe our stay at the top of Montepulciano, the medieval hilltop town that traces its roots back to the Estruscans but was later rebuilt on fine wine and food. The stayed in an old building, a hotel only steps away from the actually apex of the hill itself. All of our rooms had gorgeous views and terrible decor (really there's no need for both to be beautiful). One of our rooms was the hotel's only "suite", meaning simply that it had the one balcony in the place, and that's where we spent our evening, enjoying wine, snacks, and an unbeatably picturesque backdrop, before walking up the street (and I do mean up the street) for dinner, which we ate at an enjoyable restaurant on a patio overlooking the very same view (which is less picturesque after dark).


Our view in Montepulciano

On the balcony in Montepulciano

At dinner

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