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Report 1008: 'I Vincitori' Learn to Get Lost in the Hills and Valleys of Italy

By Marian from New Jersey, Spring 2006

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Page 9 of 15: A Medieval Festival in the Metropolis of San Quirico d'Orcia (Sunday, 14 May)

photo by Marian

What to Wear in Southern Tuscany

We start the day with coffee and cornetti at the Bar Centrale on San Quirico d'Orcia's main piazza. After a week in Perdifumo, this town, with several bars and restaurants, a number of nice shops, a couple of markets and a large central piazza, does indeed seem like a metropolis to us. We decide this will be "our" bar. The coffee is good, the baristas expert and pleasant, the pastry delicious. And all of San Quirico seems to be out in the piazza. Young mothers with babies in strollers, nicely dressed middle-aged women, young fathers. It's Sunday, and most of the outdoor tables are taken by older men.

We walk over to see the Zurers. Their hotel is lovely, with a charming inner garden. This is their last day in San Quirico, and they are heading out for lunch. The Zurers will then be going on to Castellina, Maureen and Franco back home to Rome. We chat, and then head on for our planned day of doing as little as possible.

We realize that the people wandering around in medieval dress are doing so for a reason: There is to be some sort of festival in San Quirico today, although there is no notice of it anywhere else that we have seen. Various events are planned, including some tables set up just outside the walls for some sort of fixed-price meal. But we mostly scope out the town, exploring the Horti Leonini, a beautiful formal park with a small and peaceful rose garden. Ahh! These roses actually smell like....roses!

Marc takes off to find an internet caffè in Pienza; Cheryl and I eventually have lunch in the little trattoria between our apartment and the main piazza. We order cold plates that turn out to be big enough for three, as we find out when Marc returns. We go back to the church steps to wait for and watch the festivities, which turn out to involve a lot of flag tossing and a really good juggler.

We don't want to leave town, so decide to have dinner in the well recommended Osteria del Vecchio Forno. This dinner is not a pleasant experience, as we have the worst service I've ever experienced in Italy. 'Nough said here.

But the day has been wonderful, and we walk through the town before returning to our own private palace.

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