11 PICTURE ALBUM
Thursday, September 11
Steve: The morning was gorgeous, and Paula and I began our day with
a great walk through the hills. There are dirt roads heading in a variety
of directions around the estate, and we've been told that they all end up
circling around and that it's impossible to get lost. Just in case, we decided
to bring our hand-held GPS with us (I think I forgot to mention yesterday
that our hike with David and Katie ended
up about 1-2 km away from our car, but still on the main road leading to Radda
- there are so many forks that it's easy to venture off your intended path).
The morning air was cool, and we were able to see much further than yesterday
- Siena was visible in the distance, as were a series of mountains (we're
not yet sure what they're called).
The dirt roads all cut through a whole series of vineyards, and we stopped
to watch the harvesting process that has just begun. Nothing fancy - just
3-4 men with clippers, baskets and a tractor. They simply cut each bunch from
the vine and put the grapes in baskets. When their baskets are full, they
dump them into the trailer. Periodically the tractor is moved forward as the
down the rows. They've started with the white grapes, which seem to be interspersed
in the rows with the red ones - we wondered why this is done, and will find
out next week when we get our tour and see the wine-making in process.
As a result of our walk, we also made a MAJOR discovery! In addition to carrying
the GPS, I also carried our standard pedometer. At the end of the walk (just
over 3 miles), the distance on the GPS was 20% more than the pedometer!!!
that means that all the distances we've recorded thus far on our
trip have been understated by 20%. At last count, we were up to somewhere
around 270 miles, so that means we have actually walked
closer to 320 miles. Going forward, we'll adjust each day's total, but, for
the record, we wanted to document this here. When Paula and I returned from
our walk, David and Katie were still in bed - we woke them up with this "announcement",
and they were thrilled! They're very impressed with themselves and how much
We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon relaxing at our place.
It's so nice to be in such a beautiful setting and to be able to relax outside.
We read and played in the pool (the water's very cold, but certainly refreshing),
and David and Katie enjoyed catching some of the lizards that are all over.
Some of the grass around the pool area has been all dug up, and we learned
that it's because of wild boards that dig there during the evenings (presumably
looking for bugs?). We've heard that the boars are plentiful, and we actually
heard a couple snorting around when we returned home this evening.
Late in the afternoon we set out to explore the medieval town of Monteriggioni,
located about 20 km west of us. Monteriggioni is well-known as one of the
best preserved walled fortresses in Italy, and was built in the early 1200's
by the people of Siena as part of their wars against Florence. These conflicts
continued well into the 1400's, when Florence finally prevailed and captured
the fortress. Monteriggioni is very impressive, especially when viewed at
a distance. The fortresses 14 towers are all still visible, and Monteriggioni
sits perfectly on top of a circular hill.
Before entering Monteriggioni, we wanted to get some views of the fortress
from a distance and to get a sense for the surrounding area. We found a dirt
road lead away from Monteriggioni and up a smaller hill, so we began hiking
and soon found that we had a spectacular view of the entire fortress and its
towers. Our hike took us through vineyards, woods and plowed fields (barley
and maize, we think), and gave us several different perspectives of Monteriggioni.
From one point, we were high enough that we could see down into some of the
buildings within the walls. The hike was great, and we looped most of the
way around Monteriggioni before returning and walking up to one of two gates
that enter into the town.
Inside we found a small and very cute community. There are 150 homes in Monteriggioni,
and we saw several residents entering and leaving their homes. There is also
a small church, a square, and two "roads" with a few shops. All
the buildings are stone, and are original. Surprisingly, Monteriggioni has
its own little 4-star hotel. There are two restaurants, both located in the
main square right by the gate. We had selected "Il Pozzo" for dinner,
but it didn't open until 7:45 (very typical of the schedule for restaurants
here). It only took us an hour to explore all of Monteriggioni, and so we
ended up relaxing in the square waiting for the restaurant to open.
Dinner at Il Pozzo was wonderful. Our meals included bruschetta, caprese
salads (David and Katie love both of these starters), picci with pesto (this
pasta is wonderful), spinach/ricotta lasagna, lamp chops and wonderfully prepared
fillets. We tried a Chianti made in Gaiole (where we visited yesterday), which
we all thoroughly enjoyed. We're getting spoiled, and have all begun looking
forward to dinners as a major highlight of each of our days here.
We haven't set our plans for tomorrow during the day, but in the evening
we're getting together with Giacomo, a friend of Jim Finkel's (who we met
in London). Giacomo and his wife live in Chianti, and are meeting us for dinner.
Distance Walked: 6.15 miles