Tuscany at Sunset

We pulled into San Antonio Country Resort in the late afternoon. This family friendly resort is an old convent that was converted into vacation rentals and is a 10 minute drive from Montepulicano. Our apartment was on the second floor with views of the surrounding fields and lake. With one bedroom, massive bathroom, kitchen and a fireplace: it was perfect. We were ready to light a fire and unwind after the drive from Rome and stop in Orvieto. But we had one more driving adventure to survive.

We left to buy groceries at sunset.  The directions were simple, but as previous experience showed, we don’t follow directions well. We turned around twice, the first at a produce stand. The second time was ascending into Montepulciano and Panicker awoke to squeak out a protest: you’ve gone too far! We can’t drive into Montepulciano! Quick thinker acted with a dramatic U-turn into oncoming traffic and parked in a narrow turnout along the side of the cliff. The oncoming traffic blinded us as we argued over the map. Apparently the navigator (aka Panicker) was wrong, but I yelled at him and his driving antics anyway.

The grocery store was full of narrow carts blocking the narrow aisles. I scrambled for dinner and breakfast supplies while Aaron tried to entertain Ada, who was crying out hungrily. Aaron quieted her with crackers, while we patiently waited in the check out behind a woman who paid for her cart full of groceries with one Euro coins.

Back in the apartment, Ada celebrated by running happy circles. Aaron made a roaring fire in the fire place and a dinner of chicken with fresh spinach and ricotta ravioli. And I washed underwear and socks in the bathroom sink. As the dirt slipped down the drain, so did the accumulated stress of driving in Rome, frustration in Orvieto, and near death on the hillside in Montepulicano. After Ada fell asleep, we drank wine in front of the fire  surrounded by drying underwear, eager to start a new day.

We woke at dawn to the sound of chirping birds and a burgeoning blue sky. After breakfast we explored the grounds and Ada adopted the cat Antonio. We were surrounded by green grass bordered with rosemary and lavender, patios with potted red geraniums, an orchard of Olive trees, a few Cypress and a forest of Pine and Oak that crept up the hill behind the resort. We walked up a gravel road that divided the wild forest from the orchard and saw the hill town Pienza in the distance.

"Ada's Road" Outlined with Cypress Trees

Feeling refreshed after our languid morning, we jumped back into the car and headed off, our destination unknown. We drove through gentle hills of various shades of green and brown with sprigs of fresh grass dappled throughout and vineyards covered in golden grape vines.

We ended up on a curvy road that zigzagged down a steep hill. Aaron showed us how easily our car hugged the road and gleefully zipped around each hairpin turn. At the bottom Ada showed him what she thought of his driving, by throwing up her yogurt and calmly declaring “all done.” We parked the car at the base of a little hill town and Aaron was rewarded by cleaning her and her car seat.

Monticchiello

The town was Monticchiello. The streets were empty, the stone houses decorated with green shutters and geraniums cluttered the window sills; yellow grape vines spiraled around the red doors. An old woman hobbled by and returned our smile with a scowl, until she saw Ada on Aaron’s back. She stopped and a smile burst across her face while she exclaimed “Bella! Bella!” before she continued on.

We did the same and continued on, watched the sun set behind the Tuscan hills and spent another night drinking wine and reading in front of the fire.