Every article I've ever read about driving in Italy pretty much says not to. And after the vespa tour and 3 days of taxi rides, I understand why. Yes, there are painted lanes in Rome but no, they are not used. Everyone goes in whatever lane they want, sometimes driving 3 cars wide on a 2 lane road.
Sort of like New York except one BIG difference...no one is angry about being cut off. There is no honking, no flicking of middle fingers. People just merge and do their best not to hit any people. It's all very fluid once you stop covering your eyes with your hands and your Xanax kicks in! It works for them.
Once again, Mike assures me that it's no big deal, he drove here when he lived here. I am in charge of putting in the destinations into our GPS and of telling him when I want to pull over to take a picture. I was instructed to look down at my lap or out the window at the Tuscan hillside instead of the 130km cars whizzing by us (or us by them as it would turn out). I did what I was told and I'm happy to report that no divorces were caused during this 12 hour road trip.
Our rental chariot...
Point A: Ciampiano Airport/Hertz rental agency. Point B is Civita di Bagnoregio. Point C is Montepulciano and Point D is Siena.
We left the Hertz office at around 9:00am. It took us about an hour to get through the paperwork and the craziness of them not having the car I paid 30 Euros extra to reserve (a Fiat 500L...I mean, come on! We are in Italy, I wanted a Fiat!!!). Once again, those Italians laid on the charm and upgraded us to the Jeep Renegade, a model not available in the US so we at least felt like we weren't cheating. We had heavy traffic getting around Rome but as soon as we got on the Autostrade, we were burning rubber. We exited the A1 at Orte and got to really start seeing some typical Tuscan landscapes. The skies were pretty dreary but the grass was emerald green!
We pulled into this empty parking lot with this as our view. Even the picture doesn't do it justice.
Can you tell that the hill is steep? I was out of breath by the time I made it to the top. Not a good sign since hiking Machu Pichu is on the bucket list! Bella thought it would be fun to run the whole way. Ahhh, to be 11 again! This little town used to be connected to Bagnoregio but years of wind and erosion have put this place in jeopardy. As you get closer to the top you can see the layers of soil exposed on the sides. The drop is instant and massive.
Our next stop is the town of Montepulciano. I read good reviews for a little cafe so we make it our lunch destination. Here it is on our way in.
When we go inside Caffe Poliziano we are the only ones there besides the waiters and a hostess. Mike asks where everyone is and she tells him that they are a summer town for tourists, only the locals are here now. Then she takes us into the main dining room and tells us to pick any seat & enjoy the view!
We are pretty hungry so we each order a meal and also get a cheese & meat plate to split. Mike had Tuscana soup (he says very different from Olive Garden's, lol). Preston got a pasta dish with breadcrumbs and cheese. I had pasta with boar ragu (on my list of must tries while I was here). Bella had a salad...she's my veggie eater.
Bella also had a hot chocolate, European style...thick as pudding.
I've read that this is the prettiest church in all of Italy...I haven't been to them all but I can't imagine there is a prettier one. I was even more impressed with these ceilings than I was with the Sistine Chapel ceilings! And black & white horizontal stripes??? The mosaic floors??? I mean, come on!!!
We take the Autostrade the whole way back and it only takes us 2 1/2 hours. Glad to be back in our apartment but tomorrow we have to get up at 5am to catch the speed train to Venice!!!