I can remember the evening this was taken, Tina can too and in fact she would still kill me for this given half the chance. We took the craziest road to get to this spot and had no plans to photograph anything in particular that evening. In fact we had no intention of taking a road so mad. (yet so fun)
The plan had been to visit Montalcino in Tuscany from our base near Sienna. We had been there once before in the daytime and there were a few things we wanted to re-visit and perhaps after that grab something to eat. The restaurants there are fantastic, eating platters of local cold meats, such as salami, prosciutto and served with the classic bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar – I am there now in my imagination!
However none of this turned out as planned, we did get there but kind of only just about in one piece…
We were driving through the rolling hills of the area south of Sienna, heading for more mountainous territory and decided to take a different route. I thought to myself that instead of driving 5 miles further, I would take a shortcut route, on the map it appeared to cut straight through bypassing many major roads. Great idea I thought. The road was marked and had a number, so looked good. However once we were on it, the surface petered out from being a smooth TarMac ride to shingle, gravel and at time neither of those even.
It felt adventurous, it felt really cool and that we were off the beaten track. My Wife looked slightly uncertain of my decision – ok scrub that – she was looking frankly worried. I wasn’t as us men are wired very differently of course and like doing daft things. I saw another sign Montalcino 20km and relaxed, my wife seemed even less relaxed. We turned a few more corners and the level road began to climb upwards and by now I was dodging the potholes. Maybe this is wrong, I thought to myself but no, ah, there is another signpost. Montalcino 19km. How do they measure distances around here, must have gone more than 1km since the last sign.
It is worth pointing out that we undertook this journey, not in a 4×4 but a standard Fiat Punto diesel which had about as much horsepower as a Sloth. It was still pulling us along though and I started to use the squirters to clear the thick layer of dust from the windscreen.
At one point we came across a golf course which seemed to be under construction but I chose to ignore that – Montalcino 19km – what? Ok I was getting worried but the views were becoming pretty stunning, we could see for miles but the bends in the road were becoming challenging. Tina was begging me to turn back. I foolishly plodded on, dropping a gear, then another, pressing my right foot firmly into the metalwork to squeeze as much power out of the poor car as possible.
We weren’t climbing much higher and we drove past a couple of abandoned looking properties with weeds climbing up their wrought iron gates. Seemed a shame and then all of the sudden we passed another car, with two people, a white knuckled man driving, his wife (assumed) exchanging glances with my wife (still married just at this point) as if they were passing subliminal signals between one another.
Finally we found asphalt and the car sighed a relief as it’s wheels shook off the layer of gravel that had by now encrusted it’s poor little tyres. We had reached Montalcino!
We were too late for any food or anything, the place had closed!
However after apologising profusely to my non-plussed wife who was starting to laugh at me and the now slightly different coloured car. We went for a walk with the tripod and camera gear in tow.
This photo is pretty much what we saw at that moment but I did climb onto a wall to get enough of an angle to hide the road beneath me. This sunset will stick with me for a very long time to come, maybe even longer in Tina’s case….