December 20th 2014 - Montepulciano / Pienza, Italy - Day 125

The birthday boy with my monkeys

Today was my birthday, and I was thrilled to spend it here in Tuscany.  We had a nice slow morning capped with a long hike and then after lunch we headed out to Montepulciano.  We were excited to head make it over to Montepulciano because they are one of the few towns that has a Christmas market every day during December.  

Montepulciano Christmas Market

However, once we made it there we were a little disappointed in the market and in the town.  We walked around the Piazza Grande and wandered through the quaint village streets, but after about 20 minutes we were all wondering where the rest of the town was.  So we headed back up to the Christmas Market and the kids got some WAY overpriced hot chocolate (which Peter lathered all over his face)

and then we headed back to the car - defeated.  

Donkey ride anyone?

However, on the way back to the car Stacie and I were talking and remembered we felt the same way about this town when we visited in 2007.  We also remembered how much we loved Pienza and we decided to stop there on the way home.  

View from Pienza

Pienza was fantastic and we were so happy to wander down it's main streets ducking into and out of their beautiful shops.  We stopped and bought some aged Pecorino (amazing), some dinner supplies, and took a bunch of pictures before heading back to Montalcino.  

Pienza is the home of Pecorino - the whole town smells amazing 

Pienza is the home of Pecorino - the whole town smells amazing 

We prepared our simple pasta dinner and enjoyed the Brunello we had opened before we left.  When the dinner was almost done, Lea and Peter told us they needed to go run an errand and so they hurried out the door into the streets of Montalcino.  They were back just as we were putting the plates on the table.  As we finished dinner they scurried upstairs to "go to the bathroom" and came back downstairs with a wonderful birthday cake from the bakery just around the corner.  They had even managed to find 4 and 3 candles to decorate the top.  It was the perfect end to a wonderful birthday.  

Beautiful Pienza