Ah, Tuscany!

What a gorgeous land Tuscany is. The rolling hills… the vineyards… the sunny afternoons. It’s almost idyllic. A couple days ago we visited the Fattoria dei Barbi vineyard in quest of a good Brunello di Montalcino. Just look at their lovely vines:

Here we could stroll among artisinal shops, buying sausages and cheese for dinner, then take a seat in their wine room before taking a tour of the cellars:

Okay, maybe things aren’t going so well. I look like I’ve had a bad Botox injection, don’t I?

Actually, things really were going swimmingly. We visited the cellars:

We drank the wine, and I even got a Fattoria dei Barbi T-shirt:

Fortunately the Botox doesn’t appear to have any lingering ill effects!

That’s actually a photo of me after Greta and I visited the ruined abbey at San Galgano. As you can see, it’s quite a picturesque old ruin:

Unfortunately, for some inexplicable reason they make you park at least a half a mile from the site, and on a blazing hot day with little shade, the trek to the ruins is a bit exhausting. I think the only thing that kept us going was the promise of a wine bar near the church.

It’s a little surreal to be hiking up a rough, rural trail and come upon an ad for a a bar, but I think if there weren’t so many ads, I would have questioned whether the bar really existed, or whether it was open. I don’t think it was part of the bar’s marketing strategy to place the parking lot so far from the tourist sites, but it certainly didn’t hurt.

Anyway, here’s the deal with this monastery. Apparently, this guy Galgano returned from the crusades and realized the futility of war, so he stuck his sword in the ground here, and dedicated his life to peace. As you can see, they’re really quite protective of this sword:

Here’s where the place gets a little creepy. Apparently shortly after the monastery was founded in 1180, some local rednecks decided they’d pull a prank way back when and tried to steal the sword. They broke the sword and ran off into the woods, where their arms were bitten off by a peace-loving wild beast. The arms have been preserved in a reliquary on site:

The little placard underneath says that carbon dating confirmed that these bones are of an age consistent with the story. Yegads!

Well, that’s it for now. More photos soon…

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