It was years ago when I first fell in love with Montepulciano, but I remember it just like it was yesterday. I showed up late on a Sunday afternoon, during the very hot month of August. And after several flights, two train rides, and a very hilly bus ride (which most definitely did not agree with my motion sickness), I was exhausted, and I probably looked it.
At the time I spoke very little Italian (really almost none at all), but I somehow had managed to ask the bus driver to drop me off relatively close to where I thought that I needed to be. I found my way up the very large and steep hill, directly through the center of town with my luggage (and unfortunately in a pair of sandals), and finally arrived at Fiorella’s house.
if only this picture could do the hill justice. . .
I was sweaty and I was most definitely exhausted, but I did my best to quickly catch my breath for a moment before introducing myself to the sweet woman that I would be staying with for the next few weeks. But as she opened the door to me, I suddenly felt a sinking feeling of being in over my head. What had I just gotten myself into? I just spent the past twenty-four hours traveling to a town in the middle of practically nowhere, where I knew no one. . .to stay with a perfect stranger who spoke no English. But to my complete relief and delight, Fiorella warmly embraced me and welcomed me in, sweetly helped me get settled, and then stuffed me beyond belief with her delicious cooking. And it was then that I knew that everything was just as it was supposed to be.
The next morning as I walked to my first day of Italian classes, I immediately fell in love with this small Tuscan village. The streets were all laid with cobblestones, the sunlight peered over the tiled roofs of the homes, the hills were the most beautiful deep green color and rolling with vineyards, fruit trees, and olive trees, and that Tuscan air. . .oh my. . .I never really knew fresh air until I knew Tuscany.
So as Ryan and I headed to Montepulciano together, for what would be his first visit, my heart could only hope that he would fall in love with it just as much as I had.
When we first arrived, aside from the newly remodeled Conad grocery store, I found that Montepulciano was just as I had left it. The hills were still lush and brilliantly green, rolling endlessly around the town. The sunlight was still peering through all of the cracks and windows that it could find. And yes, that same big hill was still there, waiting for us and our luggage.
Our plans were to make no plans, and so we spent our days accordingly. We wandered the town, we indulged in too many wine tastings, we ate beyond what we could have imagined was delicious, and we just enjoyed the much slower pace of life. As I had learned on my first visit to Montepulciano, things are not to be rushed here – not with the food, not with the wine, and definitely not with life.
the beautiful piazza grande
As we meandered around the town, to my complete surprise and joy, I found that there were a few people who had remembered me from my past visits. Me. . .that American girl who had very nervously traveled to this little town to study Italian on her own several times before.
Tuscany was the first place that I had ever traveled to on my own. It was the place that helped me to find my inner strength and courage, not just as a solo traveler, but also as a person. My experiences here helped me to grow and to find a new part of myself that I didn’t really know was there. This little town definitely left a big imprint on me, and to know that I did the same for some of the people who lived there. . .well, that was more than I could have hoped for, and almost more than my heart could handle.
Sadly our days passed by far too quickly, and our time in Montepulciano eventually came to an end. My eyes welled up with tears, and my heart ached the very moment that we started to pull away from this little Tuscan town that had captured such a large part of our hearts. But after those few moments of sadness, all that was left was the warmth of a wonderful stay, and the dream of our next return.
Perched in the center of town, just minutes away from my very favorite restaurant, cantina and Piazza Grande, we called Cagnano B&B our home away from home while in Montepulciano. And quite honestly, we couldn’t have asked for a better location or a better stay.
Although Montepulciano is not a very large town, it was really nice for us to be so centrally located. Having the convenience to pop back for a quick rest, a change of shoes, or a reapplication of sunscreen was a real luxury for us. Since most of our travel days are spent carrying around everything and anything that we might possibly need (a big thank you to my husband), being able to unload and relax for a few days was just what the doctor had ordered (especially for him).
Aside from our room being the perfect little picture of Tuscan charm, our host Francesca went out of her way to make sure that our stay was comfortable and convenient in every sense. Tuscan hospitality definitely brings a whole new meaning to life and to what it means to relax.
Although our stay at Cagnano B&B was provided complimentary, no financial compensation was received. All of the opinions expressed and written here are my own, and are an honest account of our experience.