Subject: Tuscany and Marche trip
San Gimignano is wonderful medieval town, not far from the main road linking Florence to Siena. It is still surrounded by its ancient walls, and is characterized by a number of high towers, spreaded in the medieval center. We took a stroll along its narrow streets, interspersed by little and quiet squares. As it was lunch time, we immediately located a nice restaurant and took a table. The restaurant is named Peruca' (Via Capassi 16) and is located in a medieval house. It has a nice and cozy athmosphere and the owners are very warm.

After lunch we visited the rest of the town, which is really one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. It was mid-afternoon when we resumed our trip to our final destination. We choose not to take the highway again, but to do the rest of our way through the normal road, in order to enjoy the beautiful view of the hills of Tuscany. And so we arrived to the farm house, Podere Rofanello (near Asciano). We were pleased to find out that it was located in a wonderful area (we had booked without knowing anything about it), and that there was a breathtaking view of the Senese countryside (this area is called Le Crete).

The next days, we started our visit of this wonderful area. The first place we visited was Pienza. This little medieval town, is famous for its Pecorino cheese. Its streets are lined with a lot of little shops selling all the local products: cheese, wine and so on. A real paradise for the slow food lovers. In Pienza, we had booked in a restaurant located in the main street, in the ancient stables of the Gonzaga family, which is called La Buca delle Fate.

The food was terrific and we especially liked the Faraona alle Olive Nere and the Pecorino cheeses.

After lunch we still enjoyed the good weather and the relaxed athmosphere of this town, before resuming our day-trip heading towards Montepulciano. This is another medieval town, standing on a hill and surrounded by bastions. Together with Montalcino, it is famour for its red wine (the Nobile of Montepulciano). We took a nice stroll along its streets, lined with medieval palaces, and tasting some wine in the several cellars. I cannot think of a better way to spend the day!

On the way back, we stopped in Trequanda. This is a tiny village, surrounded by walls and located on the top of steep hill.

On Monday, we decided to go to Siena. It was a cloudy day, and sometimes there was a thin rain. Anyway, we enjoyed the visit of this wonderful city, especially Nicoletta who had never seen it.

Before driving back to our house, we decided to make a stop to Monteriggioni. This tiny village is really worth a visit. When you arrive by car, the view of the village takes you in the middle-age. In the green countryside, all of a sudden you see on the top of a hill a round wall regularly interrupted by towers. No houses outside. A road takes you to a parking just outside the main gate. In side the wall, a little village of stone houses and cobble-stone streets. Some shops, two restaurants and an hotel are the only facilities.

On Tuesday we went to visit Montalcino. The day was a little foggy, giving to this village a particular atmosphere. Montalcino is famous for its wine, the Brunello. One of the best wines in the world. We had lunch in a nice restaurant, Osteria di Porta al Cassero (Via della Liberta' 9, specialized in traditional Tuscany food.

In the afternoon, we stopped at Buonconvento, another medieval town, still surrounded by its well preserved walls.

On Wednesday we left Tuscany and headed to the Conero area, in the Marche region. We had a very nice trip as we crossed wonderful areas (Trasimeno Lake, the Umbria countryside, the Chienti valley). We stopped for lunch at the Albergo Ristorante del Cacciatore (Via Spinabello 18, Muccia). The food was really outstanding and once again we were happy about our sixth sense about good restaurants!

In the late afternoon we arrived in the Conero area, and after some search we found the farm-house where we had booked for the rest of our holiday. The Agriturismo La Giuggiola (Angeli di Varano - Ancona), is a wonderful farm-house, located in the middle of the Conero countryside. The owners are very warm, and the house is surrounded by a beautiful garden. It is also a restaurant, so you can choose also half or full board (and it will be a good choice: try the Coniglio in Porchetta, and you'll know what I mean!).

On Thursday, we started to explore this beautiful region. The Mount Conero is located just south of Ancona, and is a natural protected area. It is a solitary limestone peak whose steep slopes slide down to the sea. The area is also known for its red wine, the Rosso Conero.

We started our tour with Portonovo, a seaside resort with beautiful stony white beaches. The strand is split in two by the Fortino Napoleonico, built in 1808, which is now an hotel. In the afternoon, we visited the Conero mountain and drove up to Badia di San Pietro, built in the 12th century as a Benedictin Hermiatge and now a hotel. This is the highest point on the mointain reachable by car. From here you can have some scenic walks along the paths that cross tje steep slopes of the mountain. The whole area was declared a regional nature park in 1987.

On Friday we visited Sirolo, a nice medieval village South of the Conero mount. Here, from a tree-lined balcony piazza, you can enjoy a terrific view of the Conero white cliffs. In the afternoon we visited Ancona and its historical center.

On Saturday morning, we went to Numana, where we enjoyed the sunny day in the beautiful beach. In the afternoon we visited Osimo, a nice historical city not far from our agriturismo. Before going to dinner, we stopped at a farm to buy some Rosso Conero wine. The owner of our Agriturismo suggested this place, and it was a good tip as their wine is really great! This was our last day of this wonderful holiday. We had a perfect time and a really relaxing trip, discovering a part of Italy we've never visited before. We were really amazed by the beauty of these places and for sure we'll repeat this experience next year, as this period is perfect to visit this part of Italy.

Stefano Dighero Genova, Italy