Narrow alleys and high walls keep the blazing Tuscany sun at bay in Montepulciano. (Jock Lauterer photo)
Narrow alleys and high walls keep the blazing Tuscany sun at bay in Montepulciano. (Jock Lauterer photo)

 

The Blue Highways Roadshow takes a turn to old Italy, where in Montepulciano, Italy, we find a fabulous hill town that has much to teach the frantic-paced American about what’s really important in life: living well, loving your family, and knowing where the vino is.

After two weeks in Italy, it takes no keen observer to count the two most popular books for Americans vacationing here.

In addition to the ubiquitous Rick Steves’ guide, the book that strikes the truest chord is Frances Mayes’, “Under the Tuscan Sun.”

For in this rainless month of Lulio (July), when the sky splashes Carolina Blue from dawn to dusk, that sun takes center stage in life.

Maybe you’ve read the book or seen the movie, but there’s no substitute for BEING here, under that relentless blaze, feeling its intensity . From about 11 a.m. through 5 p.m., life in Tuscany revolves around surviving that heat, avoiding direct contact and just making it through the day.

Little wonder that the medieval walled hill town of Montepulciano, with its steep-sided narrow canyons of houses, shops, cafes and restaurants, was designed to keep the sun at bay, while at mid-day, life slows to a crawl, and many shops simply close until the cool of the evening descends like a benison, a blessing, with a light breeze that rises from the steep vineyard-lined valley on either side.

We family of runners and walkers, who usually hit the roads in late afternoon, find ourselves adapting by necessity, flip-flopping our lifestyle to adjust to the will of the Tuscan sun. Morning walk-runs have become a way of life here now, a tribute to the wilting power of the furnace in the sky.

 

And at night, the town is cool and delightful, a lovely place to wander on foot. (Jock Lauterer photo)
And at night, the town is cool and delightful, a lovely place to wander on foot. (Jock Lauterer photo)

 

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