Sunday, July 20, 2014


The next Tuscan hilltown we headed for was Montalcino. We found some parking,  and were following the signs pointing to tourist information.  This involved walking along a road with no footpath,  but beautiful and distracting views. After having twisted my ankle in London, broken my finger on the Orient Express and face-planted in Santa Margherita Ligure,  I was being very careful.  But Andy was worrying and watching me, and he was the one who fell over, landing hard on the road on his hip and knee. We don't know exactly what he did, but he did some damage.

The distracting view

Montalcino and its walls

We then found the tourist information, and went in to ask if they did accommodation booking. They said they did, and had a property inside the town walls for €100, or properties in the countryside for €120-140. We said we thought we'd prefer the countryside.  They said the property in town had views over the valley, and parking, so we said we'd go there. We arrived and were being checked in when I noticed a folder of tours that were available. I was flipping through it, when I saw one for a cooking lesson for a day, which included shopping at the market first for the ingredients.  It was advertised for Fridays, which was the next day, so I asked if we could get booked into that and also stay in Montalcino for an extra night. 

That was all arranged, and then we were taken to our room. There was no way it could be said to have had a view of the valley.  It opened up onto the "panoramic terrace with wonderful views". Well, it certainly had views of the car park! What was even worse was that the room smelled.  It was eye-wateringly musty and damp and there was mould on the walls of the bathroom and the main room. Not pleasant. 

This was the view.
Not what I'd call a valley view, but then you can see a
tiny bit of the valley.

We were planning to eat in their restaurant that evening, and asked when dinner started.  We were told "7.30 or thereabouts". At about 7.40 (when the restaurant still hadn't opened) all the lights went out, and when we asked what was going on, they said that the whole town had lost power. We asked if they were going to be able to do at least a cold meal,  they said they didn't know when the power would come back on. It didn't look like any food had been in preparation, so after about 15 minutes we decided to see what was happening elsewhere. It was only one side of one street that was affected by the power outage, and other affected restaurants were doing what they could and had lit candles. We found somewhere else to eat that night, and on our second night didn't want to bother with their restaurant.

Montalciano is best know for its "Brunello di Montalcino" red wine, which can only officially be grown in that area. Some of it was very dear, but we did have a not-so-dear bottle with dinner, and also some during our cooking class the next day.



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