Montepulciano may be busy with tourists in the high season, but there are good reasons why everyone flocks to this medieval fortress, looming 2000 feet above sea level. On the drive in, you will be gobsmacked by the views along the dramatic tree-lined road that hugs the ridge and spirals up to town. Park your car in the lot at the bottom of the hill.
You’ll find all sorts of hidden alleys off the Corso that are fun to explore.
SF Shopping Tip: Just what are high quality linens anyway?
Ever wonder why those so-called 1000 thread count “luxury” linens from discount store don’t feel very special or luxurious? Quality bedding has very little to do with thread count. It’s about the quality of the cotton, the weave and the expertise of the mill. Italian linens have long been regarded as the world’s finest, in part because unlike in Asian mills, in Italy the expert weavers also handle the complex finishing process, regarded as the most critical part of the entire operation.
Unfortunately, even the reputation of Italian linens has been somewhat sullied in recent years by companies (including very well-known ones) that “design” in Italy but actually manufacture in China. Also adding to the decline are the rise of cheaply run mills within Italy that churn out inferior products.
How can you guarantee you are buying “real” Italian linens, worthy of their heritage? Fortunately, it’s actually very easy to see and feel the difference of high quality linens. You may have already noticed that your hotel or agriturismo bedding has a cool snap and crispness missing from your sheets back home.
Open since 1913, Biagianti is one of the oldest shops in all of Tuscany. This is a very old school shop– just linens on wooden racks, simply displayed. They sell all sorts of household fabrics, including bedding, tablecloths and towels, made from flax and cotton and woven into traditional patterns from Tuscany and Umbria. The shop also creates custom items from their fabrics– I would recommend bringing measurements with you just in case you find a fabric that you can’t live without. They will, of course, ship.
If you aren’t ready for a big splurge, there are lots of less expensive items that will still fit easily into your suitcase– think placemats, napkins, and pillow cases.
I bought a set of mid-size, thin, waffle weave cotton towels, perfect for wrapping wet hair in a turban. If I’d had more room, I would have gone for the full-size bath towels in the same weave. I prefer the lightweight and durable design of these towels (which are common in Italy) to the overly plush, heavy towels we find in American stores. I’ve used my towels every day for over a year now and can confirm they have held up beautifully (see photo above of my year old towel).
Have you bought linens or other souvenirs in Tuscany? Do you have other favorite shops in Montepulciano? Share in the comments below!
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Credits: All photos by Souvenir Finder copyright 2013 except for Creative Commons licenses as indicated. Attributions available by clicking on photo and below:
#1Porta @ Montepulciano / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
#2photo by TOSCANA / CC BY-SA 2.0