We had made arrangements for Brian and Emily to spend the day with us as we explored some of this beautiful Tuscan countryside and hill towns. We thought we might be slow moving in the morning, so we arranged to meet them at 11:00 am in the town they were staying in, Bagno Vignoni, just across the river from the wedding site. I was up at 7:00 am, went for a walk to explore the “town” and the hot spring before the rest got up. We were a bit slower getting out than we had thought we would be. We texted to say we would be late, about 11:30 am, but it was 11:45 am by the time we rolled into the parking lot for tourists outside this quaint town. Brian and Emily met us in the parking lot.
We strolled through this picturesque town. The town square is a gigantic hot spring pool about 50 yards by 20 yards. All the buildings are made of stone with tile roofs, as are all the homes in the Tuscany area. We walked the streets for a few minutes, then walked to the southern part of town that overlooks the river valley that separates this town from the wedding site about 1/4 mile further south. We took a couple pictures, then headed to the cars to drive to a couple of Tuscan towns. Brian and Emily rode with Sally and I, Andy, Tabitha and Jeff road together in Andy’s rental. Our destination was Montepolciano, about a half hour away. But first, we wanted to visit the hill town directly above the wedding venue, Castelione D’orcia.
We drove up the steep and switchbacking road to town, drove through town and parked on the street. We spent the next half hour walking up and down stairs and roads, exploring this town perched on a very tall and steeply sided hill. We stopped at a COOP grocery store and bought supplies for lunch, arriving about 12:55 pm, just minutes before they closed for the afternoon break, until 3:30 pm. With lunch making hanging from our hands in bags, we walked back to the cars and headed for Montepolciano.
The drive was beautiful, winding through sloping open fields in this hilly area. Each hill top was crowned with either a villa or a town. When we reached Montepolciano, we parked in two parking places we found, then grabbed our lunches and ate on the steps of a school nearby. With full bellies and bladder beginning to test the elastic limit of tissues, we followed Rick Steve’s map of the town to a WC, a free one, and took care of business. Andy suggested Gelato, and everyone voice approval, but the shop he had spotted across the parking lot was lacking in flavor and site appeal. We began walking up hill through the towns outer defensive wall and into the city. It was not too long before we passed a Gelatoria and were each licking our way through a cone.
Sally had read in the guide book about a wine tasting room at the top of town near the Duomo. We continued our slow meander up the hill, looking in shops and enjoying the area. Eventually, we reached the Duomo. It had not been faced on the outside, so the jumble of brick and stone that was cemented together to construct its outer walls was exposed for all to see. We took a quick walk through the interior, then exited and headed for the wine shop. Here we found gigantic kegs of wine, 8 feet in diameters, scattered about in an ancient brick labyrinth of a building. Of course, the walk through the wine kegs ended in a tasting room, and soon Tabitha, Emily and Sally were tasting, buying and shipping their favorites home. The three tea toters, Andy, Jeff and I sat on the nearby steps. Our next visit on this afternoon would turn out to be the highlight of the trip.
Sally had read about a copper smith in this town that did amazing work. It was only a little distance from the wine shop and we quickly located it. Actually, there was two parts to this copper smith business, a workshop and a sales shop. We found the workshop. Sally and I were in front, and we walked into the this workshop, cluttered with tools, copper and what looked like a lifetime of accumulated “stuff”. An elderly man was puttering around about midway back in this 30’ deep space. As we looked at a few copper articles, Sally asked if we could step further back into the shop. The proprietor seemed a little grumpy at the suggestion, then his face brightened a bit as the kids came through the door. Soon he was asking, in Italian, if the kids were married. We told him Andy and Tabitha were engaged, and his face lit up. He made them stand in front of him, together, then rustled around behind them on the workbench, gathering some tools and a 3 inch disc of copper. He began hamming on punches, creating a design on the copper disc, and asking questions of Andy and Tabitha. His eyes twinkled and he would smile and laugh between telling the rest of us, “SILENCIO” and asking if the women were all “generals” and if we men were “soldiers”. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to start videoing right from the start as I had a feeling this was going to be special. I will put the video up on YouTube soon. Rather than me explain the hilarity and sweetness of this scene, you will be able to watch it.
When he was done with Andy and Tabitha, he gathered Brian and Emily and did the same thing, creating a decorated copper disc for them, predicting, as he did Andy and Tabitha, that they would have four kids and telling the girls to get “frisky, frisky” to start making those babies and to put the copper disc under their pillow each night to speed the process along.
When he finished with Andy and Tabitha, he grabbed a letter he had received from a previous recipient of his “fertility discs”, showing a picture of him with them and their disc, and then a picture of their baby, born 10-14 months after their visit with him. He truly enjoyed this process!
After about an hour, we left his shop. We all felt it was the best hour we had spent in Italy. We giggled and laughed, repeating his lines all the way back through town to our cars. On the way out of town we spied a grocery store and bought food for dinner that night and hopefully enough for the next few days as there are no grocery stores near us.
We dropped Brian and Emily off in Bagno Vignoni. They were going to freshen up, then join us for dinner at our place. We returned home, showered, relaxed for a few minutes, then began preparing dinner. I checked my B&B messages and found a replay from Mauro. Yes, there was a 1 Gb a day limit to the data and his wife had dropped a second set of keys off. Brian and Emily arrived about 8:00 pm and we had a wonderful dinner of pesto salad and a green salad with bread and wine out on the deck.
After dinner, we put on our bathing suits. In the dwindling light, we worked our way down the steep trail right across the road from our place to the hot springs I had scouted on a walk earlier this morning. We found one big enough to accommodate all 7 of us. It was not hot, but warm. We soaked for about 45 minutes, creating enough noise with talking and laughter to certainly annoy those Italian soaking nearby that were hoping for a peaceful experience. We crawled back up the trail in the dark, thankful that Sally and I had brought our headlamps. It was now near 11:00 pm.
Brian and Emily headed for their place. We showered, then all jumped on the Internet. We exceeded our 1 Gb of data about 11:50 pm, then waited for the stroke of midnight. As advertised, the Internet came alive again exactly at 12:00 am. By 1:00pm, Jeff had research his travel options for going to see Joel later in the week, Sally had cruised Facebook and the rest of us caught up on the news and emails. We had not been here n contact with the Caldwells all day, so we had no new news about Joel's condition. I dropped off first at about 1:10 am. The rest followed in the next half hour. What a great day.