The sun is blazing, the wine is nice and cold and it’s been a long time since we’ve eaten so well. Fancy some dolce vita? Get in and fasten your seat belts – I am driving.
The car rental counter at Zurich airport is empty. It’s not the holiday season, that’s for sure. But the real reason is surely something else – I guess you know what I mean. The key is quickly handed over, the necessary papers signed and off we go, towards the sun.
My first car (at the age of 18) had no air conditioning, no automatic windows and it felt like the speedometer was only correct every second Wednesday of the month. The highlight, however, was the 4-digit code that had to be entered before the engine could be started. The perfect immobiliser or (until the code really burned itself into my memory) just annoying, time-consuming and quite embarrassing. Imagine you’re waiting at a red light, it turns green, you – being a newbie to driving – once again let the engine “die” and then you can’t remember the code… Thank you Citroen ZX – good times.
Our rental car, on the other hand, seems to be of the absolute latest standard. As I have no idea about cars or technology I feel slightly overwhelmed by the flood of buttons and switches and for a brief moment (really only a very brief moment) I want my old Citroen back. But the present quickly catches up with me again and I appreciate the comfort of a new car. However, I lack the interest to familiarise myself with all the functions, buttons and switches. I just want to get into the sun, or to be more precise, to Montepulciano.
The Gotthard Tunnel is quickly mastered, the coffee at the rest stops tastes better the further south we go and I have come to terms with the choice of music. According to an unwritten law, the co-driver is responsible for the musical entertainment, so I unfortunately have to do without the big classics like “Italienische Sehnsucht” by Oliver Frank and instead listen to “Best of Love Songs”. What can I say – surprisingly good.
In the early evening we finally reach our destination. Montepulciano – even more beautiful than we had imagined. An Italian village, situated on a hill in the midst of Tuscan idyll and medieval charm. We stay in a small B&B, only a few minutes’ walk from the Piazza Grande, and immediately after checking in we set off to explore the picturesque alleys. We stroll uphill, left and right small bars, trattorias, art and wine merchants. One shop is nicer than the other and after just a few minutes we know we will be back, even though we have only just arrived. Sometimes it only takes a short moment to know “I feel at home here”. Montepulciano, the village particularly known for its red Nobile wine, captivated us right from the start.
A random glance to the left and we come across a small viewing platform, off the main street. A few chairs, two or three tables and Pietro, a friendly deli owner become the discovery of the evening. We buy a bottle of wine, antipasti “to go” and marvel at the sunset over the valley with a view of vineyards and olive groves – a dream. After the bottle is emptied and the sun has set, we follow our hotelier’s recommendation. The Trattoria di Cagnano is filled to capacity and after the starter at the latest we know why. What follows is pure pleasure and we enjoy every bite and every glass of wine until we end the evening in style with espresso and limocello and fall into bed soon afterwards, tired but extremely happy.
We spend the next day delving a little deeper into the alleys and history of Montepulciano. We visit wine cellars, dare the obligatory look into the village church and then devote ourselves to the important things, the culinary highlights. The day passes more quickly than we would have liked and in the evening we feel confirmed – we will be back!
After a short night we leave Montepulciano and drive to the village of Tuoro sul Trasimeno, 45 minutes away by car. The way there leads us through a picturesque landscape of small villages, vineyards and pine trees. A little away from the centre of the village, in the middle of an olive grove, we have taken up quarters in a converted mill for the next few days. The peace and seclusion feels amazing. No cars, no hustle and bustle – pure relaxation. In the mornings we have freshly brewed coffee in the garden and spend the day at the pool in shorts and bikini. In the evenings we enjoy fresh fish from the grill or alternatively a visit to the small trattoria in the village, followed by a game of cards under the stars. We would have loved to stay the whole summer, but you should always leave on a high note, and so we head back home to Switzerland after a few days. Finally, “Best of Love Songs” again.