12.01.2013 - 12.01.2013 8 °C
With a full day in Florence behind us, which involved rising comparatively early for us, we wanted to explore a bit closer to home. The sun was kind of out today and the forecast said this might be one of our better days for the next while. We went into the village of Cavriglia which is 2 kilometers from our Tuscan home and shopped at the local grocery store. It was a small but neat store and we got the feeling that tourists this time of year were a little unusual. Everyone seemed to be visiting in the store and outside the store the local policeman was deep in conversation which still continued well after we had finished our shopping trip. I like this country Italian pace to life.
After leaving the store we explored a tiny hilltop community on the edge of town that had a church and a cemetery and few houses on top. There were also some Roman ruins along the hill that we checked out. The hill was dotted with very recent shrines to some saints, we think. The picture on one shrine needs a bit of research. On the surface it looks pretty creepy (see picture on left).
I punched in a local nature park in our GPS and we followed the directions over hill and dale only to end up at nature/camping park that might not only be closed for the season but on the way to be going out of business permanently. Our thoughts of hiking in the hills needed modification. I had heard from the owner of our Tuscan lodgings that one of the hilltowns less than an hour away had been the location used in the second Twlight movie. Wanting to score some points with the girls I suggested we go see it. The proposition didn't quite make me a rock star but it may have earned a grudging point in the plus column. The only obstacle to the trip was a small herd of lamas from the nature park sitting on the road. The winter sun makes the asphalt nice and warm so it is a magnet for llamas (who knew). I played a slow motion game of chicken with the llamas and they grudgingly gave way to our dinky Kangoo puttering down the road. Abby said the whole interaction made the wild goosechase to the nature park worthwhile.
The hill town we arrived at is called Montepulciano. As I said it was the film location for the second installment in the vampire and werewolf movies based on the Twilight series of books that Hannah, Abby and even Muriel read and which I now know more about then which is healthy for a man my age. Just to reveal how much I deserve a good Dad award I have seen the first four movies of the Twilight series with my daughters being probably the only guy in the theatre (except for a desperate teenage boy trying to score points on his first date). I know only one other man that deserves the same award I do and that is Ciero, the father of Manuella one of our Brazilian students, who sat in the theatre with his daughter and my family in a movie theatre in Brazil (think of a Brazilain Renaissance man who lives in a South American macho culture and you get the sacrifice he made to see one of these movies about "vampiro"). I digress. Unlike any North American town that has been the location of a movie in the last 60 years, this town revealed no billboards or kitch associated with the movie. Perhaps the insult that the town was standing in for another hill town called Voltara which is the location mentioned in the book made them reluctant to fess up.
The town was like a picture postcard set on top of a hill with its maze of medieval streets and passageways. The streets were abandoned save for one American family of whom the mother was talking on the phone telling someone they were on the location where Twilight was filmed and that she couldn't talk long since she only had 20 minutes left on her parking meter and still hadn't seen the prime location of the movie scenes. I gave thanks to God for Muriel at that moment. The kids were not preoccuppied with the movie concept either and we just enjoyed wandering and noting the huge variety of door knockers on all the ancient doors in the town. We are starting to make a collection of photographs of them and bell towers. This town has the most unique bell tower we have ever seen. Check out the picture yourself.
As with most of our days, I can easily report it was a very pleasant day of exploring even though we do feel sad that Muriel is not along for this part of the trip.