Every Wednesday afternoon there are tours of the beautiful garden at La Foce, an estate in the Val d'Orcia near Castelluccio, not far from Montepulciano. This estate, originally built in the 15th century as an inn, was in 1924 purchased by a couple named Antonio and Iris Origo, who subsequently refurbished and enlarged the buildings and put in the amazing garden, which is now tended by three gardeners. It was fun to imagine what it must have been like to live there... although unfortunately neither Hud nor I come from the "privileged background" of both Antonio and Iris. Some day I hope to read the book "War in Val d'Orcia, 1943-44" which was written by Iris and highly recommended by the tour guide. The whole garden was absolutely beautiful, and I took lots of pictures, only a few of which I have uploaded here.
From the garden of La Foce you can see this hill which was used at the end of the movie "Gladiator." Seeing this picture reminds me of the taxi ride to La Foce. The driver was on his cell phone with his next customer, trying to figure out where he needed to go to pick her up, and trying to speak English but not doing a very good job of it. He kept repeating, "Where IS you?" in his thick Italian accent. Finally I couldn't help but gently correct him with "Where ARE you," and he just handed his phone to me!
It started to rain a little bit during the garden tour (not a drenching rain, though. The raindrops seemed to be pretty big but somehow far apart). It was still raining when I got back into Montepulciano that evening, so I went to one of the first restaurants I could find for supper: Ristorante la Briciola, where I had my first real Italian pizza. Carole had scared me about Italian pizza when she told me how her parents had tried it and not liked it at all, but this stuff was goooood. The crust was thinner than I usually like, but it was still yum! I don't remember the name of the kind I chose, but it had mushrooms, olives, artichokes, and some thinly-sliced ham (maybe prosciutto? kind of reminded me of canadian bacon). And it was huge! I couldn't finish it. And of course I had it with a glass of red wine. Is it weird to drink wine with pizza? Well, I don't care.