The first half of the day was so perfect that I thought it was going to be the best day of my life. It started at 5:30 in the morning. I got up to head out on a trip to some small Tuscan hill towns, Pienza and Montepulciano. It was a gorgeous morning and I didn't mind being up that early. We boarded a bus and headed south. It was a great bus ride. The views were great and the people were hysterical. At one point a bunch of Italian middle schoolers got on the bus. They were listening to some interesting music. I never thought I would drive through the Tuscan countryside will listening to "Stronger" by Kanye West... I did really "enjoy" one of their songs. It was an Italian rap song, but the chorus was in English. It went something like "live the sexy life, the sexy life." Twelve year olds singing that at the top of their lungs. So hard not to laugh.
After about an hour and a half we got of the bus in our first town, Pienza. It was like something out of a fairy tale. The views were great and the pecorino cheese was even better. I really can't describe this town so I'll let the pictures do the talking.
Oh what a view?
More Tuscan Hillside.
A real well.
Places like this exist.
The Street of Love
The Street of the Kiss.
Pecorino and Pear
After Pienza we headed out onto the hike to Montepulciano. It was supposed to be about six miles long so we figured we could take our time. The trail was seriously stunning. We walked through vineyards, past villas, and over rolling hills.
The main "piazza"
This is their cute little church
Now this is where things start to go wrong... but it didn't hit me until hours later. We had a drawn map of the roads that we needed to take, but we weren't exactly sure. So we hit the gravel road we had been on in hopes that we would find the turn off we were looking for. Well we did find the turn off. It just happened to be a private road. We didn't know what to do. None of us had any idea what the trespassing laws in Italy are so we decided to stick to the gravel road. We figured that eventually we would get to some town. We were still kind of worried so we asked the next car. They told us that the road did lead to Montepulciano, but that it was 10 kilometers away (about 6 miles). We thought they must have over exaggerated. Turns out they underestimated... However, I was still really happy at this point. I was walking through beautiful scenery and the weather was great.
After a little bit one of the girls started to get really dehydrated. And by that I mean VERY VERY VERY dehydrated. She was seeing double and had to walk slowly. This wasn't too much of a problem on the dirt road. We would all just walk at our pace and then stop to wait after a while, but eventually we ran into the highway. The dirt road just ended. Luckily there was a sign pointing towards Montepulciano and we headed off that way. Unfortunately it was a busy highway. We were walking single file along a highway with no shoulder with ITALIAN drivers. I was scared for my life. Things kept getting worse for our dehydrated friend. Eventually we stopped at a hotel and asked for water. According to the girl the "goddess of the albergo" gave her a cup of the coldest and tastiest water she had ever tasted.
We had hiked for several hours when we realized that we weren't going to make it to Montepulciano in time to see much of the city before the last bus left at 5:40. In fact we realized that at the pace we were going we probably weren't even going to make the last bus. We wanted to pick up the pace, but the dehydrated girl simply could not go any faster. One girl decided to run off on her own so that she could make in time to walk around the town a bit. We planned to meet her if we made it in time. This is when it hit me that we were going to be stranded. The town still looked so far away.
We continued hiking. At one point we all just leaned over the guardrail and started laughing hysterically. We were that far gone and totally pathetic. After another little bit we reached a cross road. We could either continue down the terrifying highway or take what looked like a hiking trail to the city. We decided to go with the trail. We figured that we were going to miss the bus either way so we might as well take the safer route. It was gorgeous. We walked through orchards. I may or may not have stolen an apple for my dear dehydrated friend. After a long uphill climb the said dehydrated friend was so far gone that she prostrated herself on the ground in a praying position. I would have done the same had a car not driven by. After a little bit longer we reached the most beautiful church I have ever seen. It was a total surprise out in the middle of nowhere.
One more rough uphill climb and we reached Montepulciano. We missed our bus by five minutes... So slightly hopeless and ready to be home we headed to the main square to try and find information about how to get back to Siena. In the square we ran into the girl who had run off on her own. The bus had driven by her without stopping. It is super lucky that we found her. It turned out that the tourist information center was closed... Just our luck. So a few of us headed off to find a hotel with internet. Our search was futile and we were told that the only internet cafe in the city had closed a year ago.
This is when the panic started to really set in. We headed off to the bus station just outside of town only to find that it too had been closed for the night. So totally hopeless we went to the nearest hotel to get their prices. It was a little more than we wanted to spend and so we decided to keep looking. We saw a sign for a taxi and decided to call and find out their prices. The ride was going to cost 240 euros... Not happening. So resigned to the fate of our overnight stay I called my host family to tell them that we would not be home. With so much kindness they told us that they would not let us stay and that they were coming to get us. Unfortunately they couldn't fit the other girls in the car. The other girls decided to take the taxi and Anne and I parted ways with them. We went to the Conad, bought dinner, and waited for the next two hours. When that white land rover drove up we were so happy. I cannot even begin to explain it. After being chided for being stupid enough to walk between cities we made it home.
The next day was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I was SO sore. I never knew it could be harder to go down stairs than up them. Not to mention my body was all kinds of funny feeling after being pushed to the max. And yet I am still so glad that it happened. I wouldn't change it at all. It's a great story and now I can say that I have SEEN Tuscany.