Our home base in Southern Tuscany (Toscana) has been Montepulciano. The city is high on a hill top with Piazza Grande (Main Square) being on the very top. In the piazza stands the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall) and the Duomo of Saint Mary. Both have bell towers that are quite recognizable from outside town. Our B&B is a few steps from the Piazza Grande.
The main walkway from Piazza Grande winds it’s way downhill for a about a mile with little alleys and side streets branching off here and there. At the bottom is the arched entrance of Porta al Prato to the city.
A short distance back up the main street is Piazza Savonarola where we stopped for lunch. Our gracious waitress, told us that from here contestants from the 8 contrade (neighborhoods) compete each August in the “Bravio delle Botti”. The contestants work in pairs to push a huge wooden wine barrel uphill to the Piazza Grande. The winner is presented the “Bravio”; a painted banner of the city’s patron saint.
A bit further up the street is the Piazza Michelozzo with the interesting Torre di Pulcinella (Bell Tower of Pulcinella). Below the tower is a nice café from which we could not resist their homemade “Pulcinella” gelato (mixture of vanilla and chocolate). It was the best way to spend time as we waited for Pulcinella to ring out the hour with his hammer. We learned from a shop patron that Pulcinella is an historical, comical, masked character that originated in Naples in what became street entertainment for the poor.
About half way up from the entrance porta is the historic Caffe Poliziano which is both a café and restaurant. We stopped in earlier for breakfast and discovered they are celebration their 150th year in business. They serve only a traditional Italian breakfast which consists mainly of pastries and an expresso or cappuccino (Jackie stayed with tea). We each enjoyed a tasty cornetto which is similar to a croissant but with a choice of fillings. We choose a vanilla crème and a chocolate. Oh, such a good way to start a morning!