On Thursday – for my birthday! – we visited a city near Siena. The city is called Montepulciano. Ceci can ask Mom or Dad how to say the name of the city (it is much harder than “Siena”). Anyhow, it sits on top of a mountain made of volcanic rock. It is a very old city.
In the little slideshow below are photos of what I saw on the road to Montepulciano:
Montepulciano is a very steep city. As we walked, we saw many stairs going up to other streets. On the stairs we even saw flowers like ones in Minnesota. Do you recognize them?
Each neighborhood or “contrada” has its own mascot and flag. Can you tell which animal this one is?
We visited a MOSAICS school, where people learn how to make this kind of art. If you click here, you can read about how mosaics are a very, very old form of art. Italy has many mosaics as decorations in churches and other big buildings. Today, some people buy smaller mosaics, like the one I saw in this school.
In these bowls are the small pieces of glass that are used to make mosaics:The teacher was working on a mosaic when we visited. Look how fast his hand moves when he is working!The shop where he works in the school is very cold, so he wears a heavy jacket – and a baseball cap!This finished mosaic looks like a painting, doesn’t it? It took the artist a long time to fit all those pieces together to make this mosaic.As we walked through Montepulciano, we saw this “Pulcinella” on top of this clock tower. He strikes the bell every hour!
Here he is again:Next, we visited a shop where a man named Cesare (“CHAY-zuh-ray”) makes kitchen pots and pans and decorations of all sorts — out of COPPER!
In this picture he is explaining how he makes this special copper scooper for a chef in New York City. Do you recognize the drawing below the copper plate?
A few years ago Cesare made a special copper picture for Pope Benedict.
He also made this copper bowl and these copper grapes. Then he turned them into lights for the ceiling!
Ann told Cesare that her grandfather had been a coppersmith when he lived in Italy many years ago. She spoke to Cesare in Italian, and he understood her!
As we left the coppersmith’s shop, we passed a church called San Agostino. In English it is “St Augustine”. Gus, that means it is your church! Ask mom and dad to tell you which is St Augustine:
After San Agostino, we walked to Gattavecchi, which means “Old Cats” in Italian. It is also the last name of a very important family in Montepulciano. The town is famous for mosaics and copper, but even more famous a special wine, Vino Nobile. This link shows photos of the wine cellar of Gattavecchi. It is nearly TWO THOUSAND YEARS OLD.
These barrels for Gattavecchi’s Vino Nobile are located way down under the Cantina.
Look how worn these cellar stairs look! It’s because they are very old. They are part of an area that used to have Etruscan tombs. The Etruscans lived in Italy a long time ago, before the time before Jesus. I took this picture from down in the cellar, looking up to the main room of the Cantina, where people go for wine tasting.
We had bread soaked in olive oil.
The Vino Nobile of Montepulciano was delicious!
After the Cantina, as we walked along the road towards our van, I saw these two statues in the front yard of a house:
EVEN THOUGH THIS VISIT TO MONTEPULCIANO WAS A GREAT WAY TO SPEND MY BIRTHDAY, I MISS YOU ALL!
I love that you made this for the babies. Happy Birthday, MEB!
I liked the stuff that you put together for us, EB. I like the flag too (CMC AND GUS) I like the stairs because they are kind of ancient, and that kind of interests me (CMC) And I like our playhouse that someone made (GUS)