My train to Montepulciano left at the civilized hour of 10:45 AM, so I had plenty of time to eat breakfast, pack and make my way the two blocks to the train station. The platform numbers are not posted until the trains actually arrive, so everyone hovers around the departures board. There was a crazy woman feeding popcorn to the pigeons sitting next to me, so I had to keep shooing them away.
The trains really do run on time in Italy. So far, I have found Italy to be much more orderly than I expected. I had a seat in a first class compartment of six seats. Unfortunately, there are no floor level luggage racks, so I had to dead lift my 50 lb. suitcase over my head to stow it. I suspect I will get good at this by the time I have been here two months. This should discourage me from shopping.
From Milan to Bologna, the countryside was fairly level. Between Bologna and Florence, the trains passed through a range of rugged hills. Everything was vividly green and many trees were blossoming in shades of pink and white. The view was frequently interrupted by tunnels, however. The lights in our coach stopped switching on when it got dark after a while, which made it impossible to do anything but gaze out the window. I shared the compartment with five elderly Italians toting huge suitcases and shouting into their cellphones. I feigned ignorance of the Italian language.
Florence lies in a valley between two ranges of hills. I couldn't see much of the city from the train, but the train station was a large outdoor affair. Once we left Florence, our path ascended another range of high hills (more tunnels) and then descended into the rolling hills of Tuscany. Tuscany is so beautiful it almost brought tears to my eyes. I cannot imagine a more fabulous time of year to be here than now in the spring. It is emerald green and everything is in bloom. It resembles the Napa Valley except for the medieval villages on the hilltops. I can't wait to explore.
|Partial View of Montepulciano|
My landlady is named Fiorella Cioli. She is a single lady in her 60s who lives in a flat above a restaurant a short distance from my school here in Montepulciano. The house is ancient, but the interior has be redone in recent times. It is very rustic and looks just the way you would imagine a house in Tuscany should look. My room is small, but comfortable and I have my own bathroom and a sort of foyer between the two. I thought I had seen every imaginable plumbing arrangement between my travels in Turkey and my trip to Russia. My own bathroom is so small that I have to step over the toilet to get out of the shower, but this is the first time I have ever encountered a bathroom where the toilet is actually IN the shower. I suspect this is the result of installing modern plumbing in a centuries old building.
|Il Sasso Scuola di Italiano|
|Chapel on the Cover of "Under the Tuscan Sun"|
|City Gate of San Quirico D' Oscia|
|Church of San Quirico|
|View from San Biagio|