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The Three Amici and our experiences in Montepulciano

The Three Amici: Toby, David, and Cathy…

We mentioned in our last blog post that our dear friend Cathy, or as the Italians call her: Caterina, came with us during our trip in October.  Cathy is one of the many friends – scratch that – FAMILY members, who has been with us along our journey.  Cathy is an extremely talented graphic designer who was instrumental with helping us create our logo, business cards, and elements of our website along with a number of other important items.

Other than checking on the renovation progress, the three of us had a very difficult task to accomplish for this trip – we needed to begin our recommendation list of restaurants, wineries, and experiences for our future guests.  As you could imagine, this was a VERY tough job but someone had to do it!

Cathy in Caffe Poliziano

Enjoying a cappuccino in Caffé Poliziano…

Montepulciano is a magical town with many different things to experience.  The first morning we woke, we were greeted with beautiful music echoing from the street in front of the apartment we had rented.  Rushing from window to window, we finally were able to see a street musician playing beautiful melodies.  In front of him, we could see children gathering in the street on their way to school.  Some of the children were dancing and all had smiles on their faces.  Just another typical day in Montepulciano!

We usually started our mornings with cappuccinos and fresh pastries at Caffé Poliziano – one of our favorite cafés in Montepulciano.  The owners and the staff are always welcoming and along with the art deco décor, create a wonderful place where friends can gather to chat about life.  When visiting Montepulciano, you must visit Caffé Poliziano.

After breakfast, we would spend our time going on adventures and exploring the local area.  The Corso, which is the main street through Montepulciano, has many wonderful boutiques, art galleries, cafés, restaurants, and wine shops.  We had lots of fun exploring the Corso with Cathy and found many treasures.

Cathy and the Big Bird Coat

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?

There are many beautiful towns full of their own shops and restaurants within a short driving distance of Montepulciano.  One of our favorites is Siena, home of the famous Palio – a horse race held on July 2nd and August 16th each year.  The different neighborhoods of Siena are each represented by a horse and rider and race in Piazza del Campo, the main piazza of Siena.  We took Cathy to see all the beauty Siena had to offer, and maybe do a little retail therapy as well!  Siena has shops ranging from small boutiques to high-end stores from all the major fashion designers.  We ventured into one of the shops to browse and Cathy found a fantastic yellow faux fur coat.  David and I insisted she try it on, which she did.  She looked fantastic…and maybe just a little bit like Big Bird…

One of our favorite past times, besides shopping, is eating.  The food in Italy simply must be experienced.  A favorite memory of ours was visiting Caseificio Cugusi – a cheese maker just outside of Montepulciano.  Cugusi makes award-winning pecorino di Pienza cheese just minutes away from Fonte Martino.  When you visit their shop, located on their farm, you are in for an amazing experience.  First, you choose a picnic basket.  Next, you browse all of their locally made products to fill the basket.  You can choose from homemade jams and jellies, cured meats, and local honey.  Next, browse their wonderful wine selection for that perfect compliment for your basket filled with delicacies.

Picnic at Cugusi

Our picnic at Cugusi…

Finally, walk up to their cheese counter and choose from the many wonderful cheeses that were made right there.  This can be the most difficult choice because they are all so incredible!  After all your choices are made, one of the lovely staff members at Cugusi will pack everything into the basket, including plates, glasses, utensils, and bread and send you on your way to choose the perfect picnic spot on their property.  We found there is no bad spot – they are surrounded with panoramic views of Montepulciano and the surrounding valley (much like Fonte Martino).  What a memorable experience!

Cathy meets Montepulciano

Caterina meets Montepulciano…

We received an invitation from Roberto, Cristina’s future brother-in-law, to visit Canneto winery.  Canneto winery is located in Montepulciano just behind the famous San Biagio church.  We were served wine from Canneto back in July during the wonderful dinner at Cristina’s parents and were very excited to tour this winery.  As we drove up to the winery, we were overwhelmed by the stunning views.  Surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, you could see for miles.  We soon met up with Roberto who took us behind the scenes to see how their incredible wines were made and bottled.  We gained a huge appreciation for the very involved process and the attention to detail everyone working there took to create the very best product.  After the tour, we went into the tasting room.  After experiencing the many different wines and grappa Canneto expertly creates, we left with six bottles to enjoy at a later time!

Thursday Market in Montepulciano

Thursday Market in Montepulciano…

Finally, one of our most favorite experiences started with going to the Thursday Open-Air Market in Montepulciano.  We heard about this weekly market, but this was the first time we were able to experience it.  There were vendors lined up row after row all selling their wares.  There were those selling fruits and vegetables, seafood, meats, cheeses, pastries, housewares, tools, shoes, and clothing – the list goes on and on.  We had a wonderful time going from stand to stand exploring what each vendor had to offer.  Cathy purchased an amazing furry gray coat that she looked stunning in – way better than the Big Bird coat!  We purchased many things at the market that day.  One of our favorites was the most delicious herb roasted stuffed turkey breast we’ve ever had!  I know what we will be buying every Thursday!

The walk home

Lifelong friends walking home…

Our evenings in the apartment were spent in front of the fireplace enjoying plates of cheeses, olives, cured meats, and bread drizzled with fresh olive oil (all from the Thursday Market!).  While enjoying our food finds from the market and a bottle of wine (or two) from Canneto, we told stories, laughed, and discussed life.  We talked about all the possibilities life has to offer and living each moment to the fullest.  Life is meant to be experienced with friends and family, and we were so happy to be able to share this special experience with Cathy and create memories that will last a lifetime!