Montefollonico, Tuscano, Italy (and Natasha drives in Europe)

City well in Montefollonico, Tuscano, Italy
©Jean Janssen

Yes, Natasha did actually drive (successfully) through these city gates into Montefollonico, Tuscano, Italy. There is a reason that I insisted that Boris get a small car with an automatic transmission. (FYI most of the car rentals in Europe are a manual transmission vehicle; reserve an automatic early if you want one.)
©Jean Janssen

Leaving the airport in Rome, I was driving.  This is a first for me.  I am usually the navigator and Boris drives.  But since Boris hasn’t driven in 5 1/2 months and the last time he did so someone nearly killed him, we made the switch.  He was actually a pretty good navigator and I actually got us there.  We drove from Fiumicino, Rome’s major international airport and caught the loop, the GRA around the city and then headed north an the A1.  The highway is actually quite scenic and if I had not been so sleep deprived, I would have enjoyed the view more on this easy-to-travel highway.  As it was, I insisted that Boris talk or play the Italian radio stations very loudly to keep me awake.  If we weren’t late to meet the house agent, I would have pulled over.

The trip to Montefollonico in Tuscany actually took us almost 2 1/2 hours even though there was very little traffic, I drove about 70 mph (roughly converted from km), and we made no stops.  It was highway driving most of the way and then we drove through a couple of villages before arriving at the walled city.  Due to Boris’ condition, we had special permission to park inside this medieval village.  We passed through the city gates and made the loop around before realizing we were right the first time and just had passed it up.

The view from our garden just before sunset.
Montefollonico, Tuscano, Italy
©Jean Janssen

With a little doing, including disturbing our next door neighbors, we found the house agent and arrived at our home for the week just before sunset.  We were two hours late, but her ceramics shop in the village was still open so she was nearby.  Those of you that read the last post know that we were arriving without our luggage.  We also needed to pick up things from the grocery store before it closed until Monday.  Fortunately, the store was open until 8 pm.  After completing the check-in, Boris and I went down to the village store and picked up food, drinks, and a few household items.  The items found in the home rentals in Italy vary widely, but you will likely need your own shampoo, conditioner and soap, all of which are just easier to bring from home.  You will probably want to purchase paper towels, toilet paper, and washing and cleaning supplies.  Always check the rental first and see what is already there (and what isn’t).  In other words, don’t buy microwave popcorn if there is no microwave or Cascade for the dish washer if there is none.

view from just outside the city walls
Montefollonico, Tuscano, Italy
©Jean Janssen

After dropping off supplies at home, we went out for dinner at one of the three restaurants inside the walled village.  That is a surprising number given the small size. We had dinner at La Costa just across from our home.  They have a wonderful terrance with an exceptional view, but it was too cold and too dark to enjoy it this evening.  We opted for fireside.  Boris had an appetizer of sauteed artichokes and the mixed grill with chicken, rabbit, and sausage.  I enjoyed a homemade pasta course with onion, bacon, tomato, and peppers and then pork with boletus (porcini) mushrooms as my main course.  We shared two bottles of sparkling (con gas or frizzante) water and a bottle of the house red, Abbadia, a locally-produced wine.  Boris had a chocolate mousse for dessert (dolci); he always orders something chocolate because he knows I don’t like it and won’t try to take a bite or more.

Boris had a (big) local beer with lunch at La Botte Piena in Montefollonico, Tuscano, Italy.
©Jean Janssen

Exhausted, we went straight to bed after dinner.  My body clock was off so I woke up at 3 am and couldn’t get back to sleep until sometime after 5 am.  I woke up again at 10:30 am thinking I was just in time to meet the courier with the luggage.  They had called the night before and told us it would be an eleven am delivery.  Boris reminded me that was Italian time and the luggage arrived at 1 pm, “right on schedule”.  I immediately unpacked all the bags and took a glorious shower and dressed in clean clothes.

It was a cold and rainy day and we were still jet-lagged so we didn’t mind not getting much touring done for the day.  We tried another restaurant in the village, La Botte Piena, with a simple menu and a fabulous wine selection.  A lot of people stopped in to try the sliced meat and cheese bar and the drink bar as well.

La Botte Piena is a charming spot for lunch or dinner, to have to glass of wine with a selection of sliced meats and sausage, or just to stop in to pick up a bottle of wine (or three bottles as Boris and I did).
©Jean Janssen

The walls were all covered with the wine selections and all the cabinets and counters were made from old wine crates.  You could buy wine to go and they packed it in a wonderful handled-carrier.  I had bruschetta with sheep’s cheese and bacon and a meat and tomato pasta.  Boris tried the onion soup (this region is known for its flavorful onions) and a mixed meats platter. I had a glass of red wine and Boris had a local beer in a bottle as big as any wine selection.

Somebody here celebrates Halloween. The “guard dog” in the far left side of the picture didn’t start barking until I was leaving after taking the photo. Montefollonico, Tuscano, Italy.
©Jean Janssen

Boris had walked around the village in the morning while I was still sleep.  Between that and the “super beer” he had at lunch, he was ready for a nap.  I left him and the box of 3 bottles of wine that we purchased at our “villa” and headed out to tour the village with my camera.  The village is small, but lovely.  Most of buildings are made with brick and stone and are adorned with flowers.  I even saw signs that Halloween is celebrated here (well at least by one family).

Chiesa del Triano, Montefollonico, Tuscano, Italy
©Jean Janssen

Just outside the city walls is the 16th century Chiesa del Triano (Triano Church); the views from this spot were breathtaking.  There were lots of benches around and had it not been so cold I would have just sat and admired the view.  It was Sunday and there were quite a few day-trippers milling around the town.  With photos to download from my memory card, I headed back to our villa and found my blog spot at the kitchen table where I could download, type, and enjoy the view.

Boris decided he wanted to got out to eat again for dinner.  Remind me why we rushed out for those groceries yesterday?  He had spotted the third restaurant on his walk and didn’t want the day to go by without trying that one too.  I wasn’t really hungry, but boy am I glad he talked me into this.  We ate at Ristorante 13 Gobbi located to the left just after you come through the city gate.  I spotted one of the specialties of the house on the menu that I wanted to try.  I just didn’t realize how special it was.

Preparing the speciality of the house at Ristorante 13 Gobbi. Hot pasta is dropped into the large cheese and coated. It is served with crushed white pepper on top.
Montefollonico, Tuscano, Italy
©Jean Janssen

The chef brought out steaming hot bowls of pasta and dropped them into this large circular cheese and mixed.  He then put it back into the bowls and served it with fresh crushed white pepper on top.  Wow!!  delicious!

I figured there was no way my entree could top that, but my beef filet with porcini mushrooms was excellent.  Boris had a wild boar stew on toast.  This was my favorite meal of the three and I have certainly made up for the skipped meals and then some. Of course we added a bottle of wine to dinner and I learned that the reference “nobile” means a better class of wine that has been aged in oak barrels for at least three years.  If anyone tells you visiting Italy is not about food and wine, they have just not been here before.

View from my blog spot at the kitchen table. When it is not dark, cold, and raining, I have the door open. Well actually when it is dark and raining. If it is just cold, I put my coat on, suck it up, and leave the door open.
Montefollonico, Tuscano, Italy
©Jean Janssen

Tomorrow we plan an early start and some serious touring.  Signing off from my blog spot at the kitchen table with a garden view of the glorious Tuscan countryside…

About travelbynatasha

I am a retired attorney who loves to travel. Several years ago I began working on a Century Club membership achieved by traveling to 100 "foreign" countries. Today, at 49 years of age the count is at 82. Many were visited on land based trips. Some were cruise ports. Some were dive sites. Most have been fascinating.
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