Pienza and Montepulciano, of the great wines

church doorGeraniums










Pienza. Love the back streets. And since it had rained, not many tourists.

The duomo is wonderful – painted ribs in the arches, pillars that are round and then go to square. So many little niches in the town.

Drive to Montepulciano. Luck into free parking. THIS is a hill town. Hiking up and up twisty cobbled streets, passing myriad shops including an iron monger, a cheese seller – the famous pecorino displayed with real grass and the table of a person who makes mosaics. Lots of wine shops but the Montepulciano is too pricey for us, even though I love it.
cheese shopmosaic shop



Lion of Florence is on a wall. We’ve seen them all over Tuscany; those nobles of Firenze had a long reach, but only if you don’t compare then to the Romans. .lion


Finally the town opens out onto a big plaza. The church is unfinished outside – just brick. And the inside is a simple arch. Kinda boring. But there is a della Robbia. Love the guy!

There are bell towers everywhere. I loved this free-standing bell struck by what looks like Pinocchio. This is a close up; the bell is on a tower way above the street. Thank heavens for the camera my hubby bought for this trip – it’s a marvel.


Clouds lying low on the hills. I must say I love the Italian clouds – they are so artistic! Every vista with them is beautiful. I can understand why so many churches have clouds and cherubs in the ceilings.

Behind our hotel is an olive tree full of unripe fruit. I tried to convince B to eat one; unsuccessful. He remembers the story of me eating one in Greece — ack, ick, pooey, spit, spit, spit!

Dinner with ½ bottle of Montelcino wine – the best of this trip. ½ bottle does us in. Stagger home, happy. Love Tuscany and it’s NOT raining.

Tuscan Story Excerpt

Today I want to experiment by posting part of one of my short stories. It takes place in Tuscany: an introverted biochemist and her fiancé are on an engagement trip. The ending isn’t quite as happy as this excerpt may lead you to believe… (Reminder to self; next trip take more pictures of people!)


The Tuscan trip was a wonderful gift. As Patrick suggested, I refrained from thinking and just enjoyed. We visited all the hilltop cities: San Gimignano, Sienna, Orvieto, and Perugia of the divine chocolate.

Although building on the hills began as protection against marauding neighbors, the towns now afford lovely views and strenuous walking. Patrick and I went everywhere, swinging hands, looking up at geranium-filled balconies, down at worn cobblestones, and into alleyways filled with laundry or arches.

When the heat became overwhelming, we would go into a church — there was always a church, it being Italy and Catholic — where we’d sit in space lit by eerie light from round windows floating in the stone. Each church seemed styled into its own universe: the bucolic with white stucco and a cloud-painted ceiling; the spooky with a Saint’s finger, ear, or heart enshrined in a jeweled box; the artistic with smudged frescos. Despite their decoration, the churches reminded me of my laboratory–orderly, concentrated and cool.

Once refreshed, we would burst back outside into the heat and sun where tiny trucks with three wheels rattled and soccer games blared from open windows. Patrick was in bambino heaven; here a baby toddling across a piazza in a yellow sweater, there a tot kicking a ball with tiny sandals, up the street an outraged little one howling over a mother’s shoulder.

Speaking in his stilted Italian, he exclaimed over the babies–ché bambino caro–touching their chubby fingers. None of the mothers objected, which is surprising given the statistics, but he is a responsible, kind man and perhaps it shows in his demeanor.

In the evenings we ate pecorino cheese and drank vino nobile while sitting outdoors. The patio would remain empty until 9:00, then the Italians began to arrive, talking loudly, laughing, stretching in the warm evening. Arguments erupted, cheeks were kissed. Waiters rushed around with little plates of Italian pizza, which wasn’t at all like the American version.

I felt I was in a wonderful play, not in the audience, but on stage and not caring if I got tipsy or laughed too loud. I ordered more wine, per favore, and tried waving my arms when I talked. I licked the metal sherbet cup of gelati. I kissed Patrick in public, shook out my hair, and smiled at the staring men.


The only disturbance in Italy was the dirt and dust, which spilled from the ancient buildings and monuments like the powder in the rubber gloves I wear when examining a risky organism. Everything was old and handled and trod upon. The strange wine caves. The smell of cheese–moldy milk. I pulled my little bottle of disinfectant from my fanny pack hourly. But despite the germs, I loved Tuscany. I loved myself in Tuscany.