Friday, August 31, 2012

A Wonderful Day in Montepulciano

            One of my favorite things about my first weekend in Florence with my group from Rome was where we stopped on the way back. After only being on our bus for about thirty minutes and winding up a long road between grape vines and olive trees, we stopped in Montepulciano. Located in southern Tuscany, Montepulciano is a small town known for it’s Italian culinary traditions, especially wine and cheese. After growing up with a family-run gourmet food store, I have acquired an appreciation for fine wine and cheese, so I was very excited for this part of the trip! Our program director and teachers planned the day so we had a few hours of free time to walk around the town and then a few hours for a wine tasting. 
View from the top of Montepulciano
            While Montepulciano is in the hills of Tuscany surrounded by vast farms and vineyards, the town center was very compact. The streets were narrow and made from cobblestones, as must Italian cities seemed to be. Along the streets there were medieval churches, small stores, restaurants, and homes. We were there on a Sunday and it seemed like the town was deserted. Luckily we followed our ears to the bottom of a hill and found a bustling restaurant tucked away in an alley. We soon found out that the restaurant was world-renown for its Italian cuisine and chef. Everything we ordered was amazing but we tried to save room for our tasting.

            Feeling full form our lunch we rushed back up the hill to meet our group. We met at the Gattavecchi Winery where our tasting would take place. The winery was much smaller than I had expected but not any less impressive. First we were given a tour of the winery, which basically consisted of one large underground cave filled with huge barrels of wine. This was followed by a tasting in a beautiful and rustic room upstairs. Montepulciano is famous for their red wine, specifically their vino nobile, so the tasting included three different reds. We learned about how the wine was made and the proper way to taste it. The first three glasses were served with cheese, salami, prosciutto, and bread. Even though our lunch was delicious, I would have been satisfied with just this. Last we tasted one dessert wine that was served with Italian cookies and biscotti. Again, it was absolutely delicious. After our tasting we had the opportunity to purchase wine, cheese, olive oil, and other products made there. I bought two bottles of wine that I brought back to American to enjoy with my parents. Our day in Montepulicano was perfect.

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