Market in Montepulciano

Market in Montepulciano

Weekly market every Thursday in Montepulciano

A visit to the local market is a very characteristic experience in Montepulciano.

It is a typical Italian market with fresh fish, salumi, prosciutto, olives, different types of pecorino cheeses, cod, mozzarella di bufala, roast chicken as well as kitchen utensils, clothes and shoes.

There is always something for everyone!

The weekly market is from 8 am till 1 pm. Address: Piazza Pietro Nenni in Montepulciano.

Two market stalls every Tuesday and Friday in Montepulciano

Every week on Tuesday and Friday morning is a small outdoor market in the “Via Marino Cappelli” in front of the BCC Bank. The two market stalls sell fresh fruit, vegetables and fish.

The fish market vendor offer a wide range of fresh fish and seafood: salmon, tune, calamari, squid, cuttlefish and prawns for instance. In addition to the fresh fish you’ll find all kinds of fried fish and fried vegetables such as “fiori di zucca”. Fiori di zucca are blossoms stuffed with ricotta cheese. It’s really worth a try!

This small market is mostly frequented by locals.

Why going to the market?

I love to buy local produce at the market. I like knowing where the food I eat comes from and supporting local farmers. It is good for the environment and it benefits the local economy. 

The food is super fresh compared to the grocery store foods. The market stalls showcase their locally fresh (seasonal) fruits and vegetables. The vendors are more than friendly and they will always choose the best pieces of fruit and vegetables for you.

Every week I go the market in Montepulciano. I often do my shopping at my favorite market stalls. Barra Francesco from Foiano della Chiana (AR) is the best stallholder to buy fresh mozzarella and burrata.

They have a small market stall, not only for cheese, but they sell also other delicacies from Southern Italy. It is a real family owned businesses where mother, father and son are all involved.

Mozzarella di bufala is a traditionally soft cheese produced in the region Campania. Mozzarella is a ball of fresh cheese and has a better texture, richness and overall flavor than the mozzarella cheese from a grocery store.

The family Barra also sells delicious olives, anchovies, taralli (typical snack from Puglia), taralli napoletani, different kinds of cheeses and dried tasty sausages. 

Traditional food

Tuscany is rich in traditional, mainly pork based, dishes. For instance “porchetta”. This is a roasted pork with fennel, bay leaves and pepper. It is a real specialty from Umbria and Southern Tuscany.

Many locals eat a porchetta sandwich for lunch.

Furthermore the bistecca Fiorentina is a famous meat dish in central Italy.

Every day I try to cook fresh. I do not always have the time for that, but I find it important to eat fresh and healthy. The dishes I prepare are mostly seasonal.

Autumn is coming and at the moment you can find a big offer of funghi porcini at the market. So what do we eat tonight? Pappardelle ai funghi porcini!

Buon appetito.

 

Biking in Montepulciano

Biking in Montepulciano

Biking in Montepulciano – Tuscany

The region Tuscany is a land of cyclists, it offers a variety of itineraries. Biking is one of the best ways to explore more of this wonderful wine region!

Montepulciano is a scenic hilltop town. It stands on a limestone hill. This area is the right place for road and dirt road cycling routes, but good fitness is required.

The best period for cycling Tuscany on bike are from March to October. Riding in the summer can be hot, but you can bike early in the morning, avoiding the heat of the day. Many find it’s a great time to relax and plan their day.

If you are planning about cycling in Tuscany, the most important biking needs are a good bike (MTB or race), a helmet and a repair kit. Cycling with a helmet is really recommended!

Bike itineraries to Pienza

There are amazing bike routes from Montepulciano to Pienza. The trail types are mostly asphalt and dirt roads. You ride along the hills overlooking the amazing views of Val d’Orcia.

Most of the trails are suitable for advanced – experienced riders. They are quite challenging but definitely worth it!

1) Mountain bike route Montepulciano – Pienza

This is a gravel road and a road itinerary. Ideal for MTB, not for tour or racing bikes. You’ll bike through hills, valleys, olive groves and vineyards. This is a spectaculair itinerary for experienced mountainbikers.

Distance 27 km.

2) Road cycling route Montepulciano – Pienza

Explore this amazing cycle route to Pienza! The start and arrival point is Montepulciano. From here you start the bike tour among the hills of the Val di Chiana valley. Passing Montichiello you’ll see the very best of the iconic Val d’Orcia valley.

Val d’Orcia

Panoramic roads lead you the Renaissance village Pienza. Once you’ve passed Pienza you take the road back to Montepulciano.

Distance 38 km.

3) Road cycling route Montepulciano – Acquaviva – Montepulciano Stazione

This itinerary is almost my daily bike exercise. It is a short ride from the historic centre of Montepulciano to Acquaviva, Valiano and Montepulciano Stazione.

Montepulciano

Montepulciano, Acquaviva and Valiano are hilly villages. The biking route around Montepulciano Stazione is primarily flat.

After leaving Montepulciano this road passes the villages of Acquaviva and Valiano. Once you reach Valiano you turn back the way up to Montepulciano Stazione and Montepulciano.

In the countryside of Montepulciano you can see the hospital of Nottola.

Distance 27.6 km.

4) Road cycling route Montepulciano – Chianciano – Montallese – Montepulciano Stazione

It is a nice panoramic ride, it has not many up and downs. Starting in Montepulciano you follow the signs direction Chianciano and Chiusi.

Chiusi is the former Etruscan city in the province of Siena.

Along the road to Chiusi you pass my favorite pizza restaurant “Jamaica”. Jamaica is close to the discotheque La Bussola In. The pizza’s at Jamaica are huge and delicious!

Pizza Jamaica

Turning left you take the downhill road to Montallese. When arriving in Montallese turn right and you take the dirt road – cycle path to Lago di Montepulciano (Lake Montepulciano). This path is also called “Il sentiero della Bonifica.”

Sentiero della Bonifica

From there you follow the dirt road to Valiano, Montepulciano Stazione and then the road back to Montepulciano. Cycling uphill to Montepulciano is not easy. The road is not very steep but it is long. For this track you need a reasonable fitness.

Distance 53 km.

Happy cycling!

 

Easter holidays in Tuscany

Easter holidays in Tuscany

Easter 2021

During the Easter holidays the whole of Italy was classified “red” from 3 – 5 April. In a red zone it is prohibited to leave your hometown except for work and health reasons.

Over the Easter period we were allowed to visit friends and families in their homes with a maximum of two visitors at a time.

Tuscany will remain under the heaviest restrictions until April 20, as I read in a newspaper. The infections are not declining.

Pizza

Last Saturday I went for a bike ride and pizza dinner with my friends. It’s been weeks since we met. We’re not seeing each other often these days because we do not live in the same municipality. I live in Montepulciano. My friends have a house in Montallese and in Chiusi. Two towns in Tuscany.

Pizza is a social food. A food for family and friends. I never make a frozen pizza at home. For me a pizza is to be eaten at a pizzeria. It must be eaten immediately after it comes out of pizza oven and must be made by an expert!

Our friend in Montallese has recently installed a wood fired pizza oven in his garage. He prepared for us a variety of pizzas. Gianfranco is an Italian pizza chef!

I had a great dinner and I really enjoyed the pizzas. It has been a long time since I have had a so good pizza. Too long…

The nationwide curfew from 10 PM till 5 AM is still active. In Italy we usually eat late, around 8 – 9 PM. With the current rules we eat a little earlier.

Pizza dinner

Online wine tasting

I have celebrated Easter at my home in Montepulciano.

I’ve had a fabulous evening with American people. Together we’ve tasted -virtually- some nice Tuscan wines from the winery Gattavecchi.

For more information visit the page A Taste of Tuscany!

Online wine tasting

Piazza Grande

Pasquetta

Pasquetta was spent on running, foods and friends. We were allowed to travel.

I went to Chiusi for a 12 km run and a lunch.

Friends from Chiusi – Tuscany

A typical Tuscan Easter food is “ciaccia di Pasqua”. In Umbria they call it “torta di Pasqua”. It’s a pizza filled with cheese. La ciaccia di Pasqua is perfect for your Easter picnic.

la ciaccia di Pasqua and capocollo

Normally we eat the ciaccia with capocollo. Super delicious!

ciaccia di Pasqua

Last but not least there was a tiramisù to conclude our Pasquetta lunch.

Tiramisù

Buon appetito!

 

One day in Florence

One day in Florence

Florence

Spending one day in Florence may not be enough to discover the city. Florence is a place you have to see once in your lifetime. It is the city of cities for tourists.

Every year millions of people visit Florence.

At the moment, due to the impact of the coronavirus, many visitors stay away… unfortunately.

Fantastic and fun things to do

The city has many great things to offer, such as museums, Renaissance art, churches, wine bars, restaurants and some other well known highlights.

If you only have one day, make sure not to miss the Piazza della Signoria and Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Academia. The greatest masterpiece of the Renaissance.

Visit the Galleria degli Uffizi. Admire the goddess of beauty and love “Venus”. The Birth of Venus is painted by Botticelli.

Definitely a food lover’s paradise in the centre of Florence is The Mercato Centrale. An unmissable destination for fantastic food and a glass of wine.

Ponte Vecchio

Walk over the bridge Ponte Vecchio!

View of Florence and the Arno

Piazzale Michelangelo sits on a hill. Enjoy the panoramic view.

For special exhibitions* go to The Palazzo Strozzi.
*In 2017 I have visited the exhibition dedicated to the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. 

And not to forget The Palazzo Pitti. The Pitti Palace is Medici’s residence and it houses important collections of Renaissance paintings and sculptures.

Just to mention a few things what to do in Florence…

David of Michelangelo

The capital city of Tuscany

Florence or Firenze is the capital city of the region Tuscany. For me it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is the birthplace of the Renaissance.

As I am interested in Renaissance art, Florence is a city where I could return to again and again without ever getting bored.

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio

Piazza del Duomo

Florence has incredible restaurants, gelaterias, cafes and osteria’s. Caffè Gilli is the oldest café in Florence. It is a cocktail bar with sofas and chairs in a nice chill-out “space”.

From here you have a beautiful view on the square Piazza della Republica, the largest piazza in Florence.

Caffè Gilli

Visiting Florence during Covid-19

This February I have visited Florence. Tuscany was low risk “zona gialla”.

The Italian Dpcm rules related to the yellow zones: all shops and museums are open. Bars and restaurants are allowed to stay open from 5 AM until 6 PM.

The number of Covid-19 cases in Italy is still increasing. Tuscany has been classified as a red, orange and yellow zone.

The anti-Covid regulations are stricter for the red and orange zones. Museums are closed. Hairdressers are closed. Horeca can offer food delivery and takeaway. Traveling is prohibited unless absolutely necessary.

At present Tuscany is a orange zone.

On my way to Piazzale Michelangelo

Museum Le Gallerie degli Uffizi

In 2008 I have visited the Galleria degli Uffizi when I backpacked through Italy. I stayed at Camping Michelangelo for a few nights. I remember waiting there outside for hours to get in the museum.

The Uffizi Gallery is the most important and popular museum in Italy, together with the Vatican Museums in Rome. Two top destinations not to be missed.

Despite having few tourists at the moment, there was a queue to enter the Uffizi. These people were mostly Italian and school children.

Book your ticket online

Through the website of the Galleria degli Uffizi you can book your visit on a date and time of your choice. The price for the online entrance ticket is Euro 16,00 per person. With this ticket you avoid long lines.

Upon booking you will receive a confirmation email. You show your e-ticket to the ticket office where it will be exchanged for an entrance ticket.

Galleria degli Uffizi

Audio guide

To learn more about the museum’s most popular objects an audio guide provides interesting information on the things you see.

The audio guide is available in 4 languages (Italian, English, Spanish and German) and can be rented at the service desk, but only with your own valid ID card.

“La primavera” Sandro Botticelli

Important art works at the Uffizi Galleries

The works in the gallery are shown in the chronological order in which they were painted.

Many art collections belonged to the Medici family. The Gallery’s collection includes masterpieces of Filippo Lippi (Madonna col Bambino e due Angeli), Botticelli (Spring and The Birth of Venus), Michelangelo, Raffaelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

Filippo Lippi “Madonna col Bambino e due angeli”

“Nascita di Vendere” Sandro Botticelli

The Galleria degli Uffizi houses art works from Dutch, German and Flemish painters as well.

My favourite restaurant in Florence

Trattoria la Casalinga is situated only a stone’s throw away from the Palazzo Pitti. The location is a bit off the tourist path. This trattoria offers the best Tuscan meals!

Trattoria la Casalinga

I had lunch with Thomas, a friend of mine who works in the same businesses. He organizes wine tours and tastings in Tuscany.

We discussed various topics. Hopefully we can start a wine project together in the nearby future. Who knows! We feel the absence of (American) tourists. Wine tours and tastings are completely disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thomas enjoys wine and he knows a lot about it. He’s an expert. For our lunch he choose the wine Carmignano DOCG from the winery il Sassolo. This wine is made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a full bodied red wine, good pairing with local Tuscan food.

Our lunch menu

We started with chicken liver paté served on crostini and Lardo di Colonnato. As a main course we ordered the Fegato alla Toscana (pork liver). A deeply flavored piece of meat. Liver tastes really good. I like it.

Many people don’t eat organ meats. I can imagine that. Some people don’t even want to think of eating it. Luckily I eat almost anything. Liver is healthy, but you shouldn’t eat it too often.

Our lunch was top notch! Good food, excellent wine and nice ambiance. Great and fast service in Trattoria la Casalinga.

Shopping in Florence

Besides being the cradle of the Renaissance period, Florence is also the ultimate shopping destination in Italy. It is one of the “Made in Italy” fashion capitals, together with Milano. I enjoy shopping in Florence.

February is the period of sales. You find the best sales and discount on fashion clothing.

In the centre’s shopping areas people need to wear face masks. Also in shops face coverings are mandatory.

Before you go into a shop you must clean your hands with hand sanitizer gel.

My shopping addresses

In Florence I have my favourite shopping addresses. I am a regular customer at Intimissimi. I have a card for extra benefits. The service at Intimissimi is good and friendly.

At this moment my preferred clothing store is GUESS. GUESS is an American clothing brand. You’ll find a variety of styles. GUESS is fashionable for men and women. Hip and stylish!

Address: Via degli Speziali 9R, Firenze

Desigual is on one side of the Ponte Vecchio. Another clothing shop in Florence where I often check the latest trends.

GUESS shopping

Getting to Florence by public transport

There are several ways to get to Florence.

I always go to Florence by train from Chiusi-Chianciano Terme. From here it takes 1h 45 m on average to Firenze S.M.N.

You can buy your train ticket through the website Trenitalia or at the train station. A one way train ticket Chiusi – Firenze costs Euro 14,00 (regional train).

The top sights in the historical centre are easily to explore by foot. In Florence trams and busses are widely used.

From Florence you can make day trips by train. Cities such as Siena, Pisa and Arezzo are within easy reach.

Getting to Florence by car

Along the A1 highway is the Villa Costanza Car Park (Scandicci). You can access it both coming from the North or the South. Villa Costanza is the first Drive and Tramway car park in Italy.

Villa Costanza is an ideal alternative to avoid traffic jams in the centre of Florence. The T1 line brings you to the centre.

A single way costs Euro 1,50 and is valid for 90 minutes. Every tram stop has a ticket machine. You’re not able to buy tickets on board.

Running in Florence

Florence is a city where I have left literally many footprints. I ran the Firenze Marathon in 2016.

Firenze marathon 2016

And before that, I’ve participated in many smaller runs. This was the period in which we headed off to Florence almost every week. Even just for a training with Fulvio Massini.

We miss our races in Italy!

Notturna di San Giovanni 10 km run

Firenze Corre

Florence in a day.. enjoy this YouTube video!

I’ve made this video this February to let you experience Florence from a distance.

Ciao e arrivederci!

 

 

Wine tasting and tour at Dievole in the Chianti area

Wine tasting and tour at Dievole in the Chianti area

Wine estate Dievole in the Chianti Classico area

The wine estate Dievole is located in the Chianti Classico area, one of the most popular wine region of Tuscany between Siena and Florence.

Dievole overlooks the wonderful vineyards and olive groves. It covers an area of 400 hectares within the Chianti Classico territory in Vagliagli.

Dievole is an old winery founded in the 11th century. This Italian winery has a thousand year history.

Today Dievole is owned by an oil tycoon from Argentina “Alejandro Bulgheroni” and is part of a network of wineries in Tuscany: Chianti Classico, Bolgheri and Montalcino.

Dievole Tuscan wines

The winery Dievole produces elegant wines such as Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, Vin Santo and IGT white wine. But they make also other Italian great wines: Bolgheri DOC and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG.

Dievole Tuscan wines

Wine tour and tasting

During the wine tour we discovered the history and the taste of Dievole wines. We were with a small group of 9 persons (it is necessary to pre-arrange this wine experience).

Tasting room

Our guide waited for us at the wine shop. She started with a brief introduction to the wines and the history of Dievole. After a small talk we walked through the vineyards, the historic wine cellars and tasting rooms.

After the tour we started with individual tastings of the quality wines including good cheeses and local meats.

 

Wine and food pairing

Wine and food pairing