Exercising outside in Montepulciano

Exercising outside in Montepulciano

Exercising in Montepulciano

In this challenging time doing some sports are good. Running outside is what I do daily. I want to stay fit. Physically and mentally.

While running face masks are not required, fortunately. It is safe to run outside in Montepulciano. Fresh air benefits in many ways!

Montepulciano is a hill town. It is located at an altitude of 600 m above sea level. I know that running on hills builds muscle strength. In this period I do nothing else than running uphill and downhill.

Running here is amazing. But I don’t always enjoy training through the vineyards. Hill running is tough. Honestly I hate hills.

I usually train on a flat surface in Valiano. Valiano is a small town in the Comune of Montepulciano. To get there I need to take my car. Obviously the way we live now it isn’t allowed. We may only leave our home for work, necessity and health reasons.

The situation leave me no choice but hill running.

The days are getting shorter and the average temperature drops. It is autumn. Biking conditions are still excellent in Tuscany, but not for me. I think my bike will be stock until 2021. Not for being lazy, I just prefer to bike in warmer weather conditions.

Christmas

Time flies. Everybody goes through difficult times. Almost a year has passed. Soon we will celebrate Christmas again.

Clearly the holidays will be different this year. The Christmas markets are cancelled in Italy. I don’t know if Montepulciano will have a Christmas tree for us to see.

Let’s hope 2021 treats us better!

Covid-19 update Italy

Covid-19 update Italy

The latest news Coronavirus in Italy

Italy was the first country outside China to face a major corona outbreak. We went into a lockdown for at least 9 weeks in 2020. The restrictions against coronavirus were strict.

Last summer we managed to keep the infection rates relatively low. Unfortunately the end of the coronavirus is still not in sight.

President Giuseppe Conte is trying to avoid tough national measures like those announced in March 2020.

Italy continues to update its coronavirus rules. Here you read the latest news on the current coronavirus situation.
  • From January 16 to March 5 the Italian government has issued a new decree.
  • Traveling between regions is prohibited until February 15.
  • NEW! From January 17 museums in yellow regions are allowed to reopen in weekdays.
  • Italy started its COVID vaccination on December 27 2020 at the same time a most EU member states. They began with health workers and elderly people.
  • The Italian authorities announced new Covid-19 restrictions on Monday October 25 2020 to begin nationwide and specific restrictions for regions where the infection rate is highest.

Tuscany update

Tuscany has been classified as a red, orange and yellow zone.

  • On January 17 Tuscany went from being orange to yellow.

Lunch with friends in San Casciano dei Bagni

White zone

A new white zone has also been introduced. A region must have fewer than 50 cases 100.000 habitants.

White zones will no have restrictions. Meaning normal life. Now no Italian region will be classified into this zone, but with introducing the white zone means hope for the future.

Maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask remains but bars, restaurants, cinemas, libraries etc. will reopen. There will be no nationwide curfew.

Maintaining social distancing

They say that Tuscany will be one of the first regions classified into the white zone. Let’s cross our fingers!

Me wearing a face mask

Three colors

Starting from November 6 Italy is divided into three zones: red (high risk), orange (medium risk) and yellow (low risk). The colors are designed by the government and Minister of Health.

Dpcm Italy

The code classification changes frequently in Italy. It depends on the local statistics.

The nationwide curfew is still effective today in Italy.

Social distancing must be continued in the three zones. And it is mandatory to wear a face mask unless you go solo outside for a run or a bike ride. For body and mind it is important to get outside and exercise. With the eased restrictions it is it is the ideal time to do them.

Biking in Tuscany

Travellers from and to Italy must fill in a self-declaration form. These documents prove your reasons to travel.

Yellow zone

A yellow zone in Italy is a moderate risk zone. The rules are more relaxed.

The government recommends you to limit movements.

You are not allowed to move between regions only when necessary (work, study or hospital).

No more than two guests can visit the same home. And visiting a private home is allowed only once per day. The place you visit must be in the same region.

Restaurants, bars, gelaterias and pubs are able to operate in weekdays and weekends. The opening hours are 5 AM till 6 PM. Takeaway for restaurants is possible until 10 PM.

Shops are opened on weekdays and weekends. Shopping centers (shopping malls) remain closed on weekends and public holidays.

Hairdressers and beauty salons are open.

Orange zone

The orange zone is a medium high-risk zone. Nationwide measures continues to apply with additional restrictions.

The government recommend to limit movements as much as possible.

Restaurants and bars are closed. Bars provide takeaway service until 6 PM and restaurants provide takeaway service until 10 pm. There is no time limit for home deliveries. Pharmacies and shops that sell essential goods remain open.

Caffe Poliziano

Shopping centres (shopping malls) are closed over the weekends and public holidays.

Shops, hairdressers and beauty centers stay open on weekdays and weekends.

Closure of all museums, gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and theaters. Universities, primary and secondary schools are closed.

You may receive up to two guests in your home, on one condition that they live in the same municipality.

Residents are allowed to leave their homes only when it’s for work, necessity and health reasons.

Outside physical activity in the vicinity of your home is allowed (hiking, running and biking).

Red zone

The red zone is the highest risk zone. This means strict rules. People are asked not to move around unless necessary.

It is recommended that you work from home.

The rules last at least for 15 days. Restaurants, bars, gelaterias are closed. Except supermarkets and other food stores. Takeaway until 10 PM is still allowed. Pharmacies and shops that sell essential goods remain open.

Traveling in between regions and cities is prohibited. Moving in your municipality is not allowed, unless it’s for work, study and health reasons. When traveling you must have a signed declaration form proving your reasons to travel.

Closure of all museums, gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and theaters. Universities, primary and secondary schools are closed.

Hairdressers are open. Beauty centers are closed.

You may only exercise individually in the vicinity of your home.

Running in Tuscany

Up to two persons may visit another person’s home, on the condition that they live in the same region.

My quarantaine blog in Montepulciano

My quarantaine blog in Montepulciano

Quarantaine life

Here’s my story and a selection of images showing my quarantaine life in Montepulciano.

March 18 2020

My first face mask bought in the local pharmacy of Montepulciano.

At home in Montepulciano

March 21 2020

Prime Minister Conte announce the shut down of non-essential factories and that more severe measures are necessary due to the increasing number of coronavirus deaths.

All pharmacies, supermarkets, banks and public transportation will continue to remain open in Italy.

“Stiamo distanti oggi, per abbracciarci con più calore domani”.

Prime Minister Conte

March 26 2020 

“Ai tempi del coronavirus restiamo a casa.” means: During the coronavirus outbreak we stay at home.

At home in Montepulciano

At home in Montepulciano

March 31 2020

“Musica che unisce”. Music makes people feel (more) connected. This virtual concert on Italian TV featured many famous musicians and singers including Andrea Bocelli, Irene Grandi, Diodato (winner San Remo 2020), Tiziano Ferro and many more.

Musica che unisce

April 12 2020

Eastern in Italy.

Eastern San Pietro

Easter mass in empty’s Sint Pieter church in Rome. “May God stop this tragedy, stop this pandemic,” the pope prayed.

My aperitivo used to be the highlight of my day. Another day has passed. So.. a good occasion to celebrate!

Virtual wine tasting

The Coronavirus made a Zoom boom generation. If you wanted to participate to a virtual wine tasting, meetings, yoga lessons or you just wanted to see friends and relatives it had to be on screen.

Now I use Zoom for my Virtual Wine Tastings in Montepulciano. I love this application!

“In the times of a pandemic, when you cannot fly out to experience new cities, a virtual wine tour with Sylvia is what I needed. Her knowledge on the wine and history, her story telling and live videos of Montepulciano made me feel, like I was in Italy for a brief moment. Loved it! Thank you, Sylvia!”

Quarantaine pack from Holland

April 27 2020

I got some Dutch delicacies from close friends of mine.

Hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles), stroopwafels (caramel biscuits), cheese, drop (liquorice), caramel fudge … all yummy!

Quarantaine package

Together with the local products they have sent me wonderful CD’s from one of my favorite Russian conductors Valery Gergiev. I have seen Gergiev several times conducting the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in De Doelen.

Quarantaine package

One of my best memories ever is the Tsjaikovski’s violin concert with Janine Jansen and Gergiev.

Pictures of Tuscany after the lockdown

Pictures of Montepulciano just after the nationwide lockdown of two months when Italy opened its borders.

The impact of coronavirus on daily life is enormously. Many people have lost their jobs, small business, some restaurants have closed.

We must stay alert and safe (social distancing). In supermarkets it is still obligatory to wear a face mask and to clean your hands.

Running

During the coronavirus pandemic it is safely to run. I do solo running. Three times a week I plan my runnings.

You can see my running activities here.

Sentiero delle Bonifica

Sentiero della Bonifica

Sentiero della Bonifica

Covid-19

The spread is slowing but the end of this pandemic is still not in sight. The lockdown measures in Italy were severe. I do not hope for a second Covid-19 lockdown in Italy.

Since the Covid-19 many things have changed. In Montepulciano we have some visitors from Europe, but especially American tourists are missing here. It is devastating for the economy and we feel it.

Montepulciano

Wine and Food Experience

Last year with my Wine and Food Experience in Montepulciano I’ve met many wonderful people from all over the world: Dubai, America, Canada, China, New Zealand, Holland, Germany, Ireland, Poland..

I miss the interaction with people and having the exchange of positive energy.

Saturday next, July 25 2020, I will have my first group in Montepulciano for the Wine and Food Experience. I am happy to welcome you again in Montepulciano!

Visit Pienza in Val d’Orcia

Visit Pienza in Val d’Orcia

Visit Pienza

Last week I visited Pienza in the Val d’Orcia. Pienza is a tiny village situated 20 km from Montalcino and a few km from Montepulciano.

This period is a unique chance for me to visit places in Italy without lots of tourists. Italy has opened its borders to European tourists from early June but the Coronavirus still keeps tourists away. Some Italian visitors from other regions arrive in Tuscany but not (yet) people from other countries.

Few people were around in Pienza. Pienza is a popular place to travel. For many people Tuscany is a dream destination for its beauty, scenic landscape and historical villages. Tuscany is so special and unique. It’s not surprisingly that Val d’Orcia has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pienza is the most renowned village in Val d’Orcia. In 1996 UNESCO declared this town a World Heritage site.

History

Pienza was redesigned in the late 15th century by Pope Pius II (Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini). The original name of the village Pienza is Corsignano. Pope Pius was born here. He decided to change Corsignano into an ideal city to be called Pienza.

Today Pienza houses wonderful buildings like the Palazzo Piccolomini “Pope’s palace”, the Cathedral and town hall. These attractions are definitely worth a visit.

How do I get to Pienza

Pienza is located only 12 km away from Montepulciano. You can reach this village easily by car. There is free parking outside the historic centre. For example in the Via della Madonnina. Here you find enough parking space.

Parallel to this street is a wonderful walking path to the centre. The views over the landscape are stunning.

You can also take the bus from from Montepulciano to Pienza and vica versa. By bus it’s about 25 minutes travel time.

The town Pienza is as small town with a population around 2300. In the main street Corso Rossellino is a pretty strong smell of cheese. The Pecorino cheese of Pienza is one of the best and popular Tuscan cheese. Many tiny shops in Pienza sell this amazing Pecorino cheese.

You should taste it, it’s really yummy!

Cheese farm in Pienza

The Pecorino cheese is a soft or semi hard sheep cheese produced in Pienza. It is one of the most delicious Italian cheeses made from sheep milk (ewe’s milk).

Personally I know Fattoria Pianporcino in Pienza. This cheese farm produces different Pecorino types like Pecorino fresco, Pecorino semi-stagionato and pecorino fully stagionato.

The owner of Pianporcino is Giuseppe Bussu (on the right-hand side of the picture). 

This photo is from before the Coronavirus.

For a cheese tasting and visit reservations are recommended. Especially now with new measures and restrictions.

E-mail: info@fattoriapianporcino.it
Address: Podere Pianporcino 109, 53026 Pienza (SI)

Pienza is also called a “Slow Food” place for food and wine lovers. In the historic centre are many wine shops “enoteche” where you can taste the local wines (Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino).

The restaurants offer traditional local dishes like Tuscan pasta “i pici”, antipasti and different types of cheeses.

Pienza is also a romantic destination with the two streets called Via dell”Amore and Via del Bacio.

Instead of taking your car to Pienza, you can also rent a (FAT) e-bike in Montepulciano to get to Pienza. There are amazing bike routes from Montepulciano to Pienza.

The trails are suitable for families, beginners and cycling enthusiasts. You can rent (FAT) e-bikes and mountainbikes at ByeBike and Urban Bikery in Montepulciano.

The trail types are mostly asphalt and dirt roads. You ride along the hills overlooking the amazing views of Val d’Orcia. Really recommended!

A FAT e-bike tour in Umbria with Instabike Italia

A FAT e-bike tour in Umbria with Instabike Italia

Instabike Italia

Instabike Italia offer FAT e-bike rental and guided tours. The best way to explore Umbria and Tuscany is by riding a FAT e-bike! It is great fun for everyone. With this e-bike you can ride along vineyards, amazing landscapes, trails, off road adventures or anything you wish.

Lago Trasimeno

Marco is one of the owners of Instabike Italia. He is an official guide and he can show you by bike wonderful places, landscapes and lakes. A guided tour with a FAT e-bike through the Umbrian and Tuscany landscape you can enjoy a nice wine tasting as well.

Tuscany landscape

Instabike Italia is situated in Terni, Umbria, but they organize e-bike tours around Umbria and in a small part of Tuscany. The FAT e-bikes are new and well maintained. You really should try one of their FAT e-bikes!

Sangiovese vineyards

FAT E-bike

FAT e-bikes are more than mountain bikes. They have oversized tires, the bikes allow you to ride everywhere. Obstacles are not a problem, the FAT e-bikes give you a feeling of stability and control.

It is easy to ride a FAT e-bike. In addition to your pedaling the motor powers the rear wheel. With this bike you can visit a lot of wonderful breathtaking places, whether it is an off road adventure or a city ride.

Sangiovese vineyards

Bike Tour

Last week I’ve tried one of the new tours Instabike Italia wants offer. Unfortunately the winery we wanted to visit for a wine tasting was closed. Due to he current Covid-19 measures and restrictions. Avignonesi is a wonderful winery in Montepulciano.

Sangiovese vineyards

As we were at the Tuscany – Umbria border we entered the Umbrian landscape. With views over Cortona we went by bike uphill towards the castle of Tuoro sul Trasimeno. FAT e-bikes can allow you to ride anywhere but the bike trail uphill from Cortona to the castle is not accessible and only for experienced bikers. We were forced to walk.

From the castle of Tuoro sul Trasimeno we enjoyed an amazing view over the Umbrian landscape and the Trasimeno Lake. I could even see Castiglione del Lago. The village I moved out two years ago.

Lago Trasimeno

For a short pit-stop we passed by a local bar for a coffee and a gelato in Tuoro sul Trasimeno. After our break we continued biking along the Trasimeno Lake to the place where we had parked our cars.

A real new bike experience with a FAT e-bike. You will explore new places with amazing trails Umbria has to offer. The tour we did is excellent for everybody. Also for kids! Besides the trail uphill to the castle of course. That part will be modified.

The website of Instabike Italia is under construction. But they have an Instagram account for more information. Enjoy!