If you have never been to Pienza, a town near Siena in Tuscany, I insist you make an effort to go. This warm, small and hospitable town is a true gem, a place to go when you want to “experience” the life around you versus flying through.
The beautiful, no, the stunning view from behind the cathedral at the bar overlooking the Val D’Orcia is enough to keep one spellbound for days. The warm sexy, soft yellow of the stone and yellow sand used in the masonry bestows this sense of “home.” There are quite a few places in town between those soft walls where one may rent a room and actually “live” the idyllic life. I can hardly wait until Spring arrives to go back and savor that life; spend a night or two there, eat at Il Latte della Luna for fabulous fresh pici al tartufo nero (loaded with truffles not just a sprinkle of them) or roasted duck or young roasted pig. Of course, La Buca delle Fate is another wonderful spot to feast close to that great ice cream and coffee bar.
There is a wonderful wrought iron shop in which to spend some time dreaming, imagining the house with pieces similar and best of all is to wander the cheese shops. The pecorino cheese abounds in these cheese havens as well as, goat cheese specialties and they are stocked with salami, wines and culinary treasures. I can hardly wait to go back and wine taste, cheese sample and soak up the scenery, sign me up! ;-) I can see this town is going to be a monthly escape for me (giggle).
Unfortunately with this beauty and passion one has to take the red-tape-Italian-“sauce,” which covers everything here however it is worth it most of the time. Actually, time will be split half here and half in the states so the negatives will be supplanted by moving frequently between “zones.” :-))) I guess the hard part now of my daily decisions will be, “gosh, do we want to get that red for the cellar or, just for dinner?” Or, “shall we drive to Pienza or Norcia for cheese today?” Or, maybe take a few more days and go to Northern Italy for a cheese and wine run or even Milan for shopping depending on how desperately we need to see some city life. ;-)) You know, those “hard kinds” of decisions (giggle).
OK, back to Pienza and tour guide mode. If you do not have time to savor the town it is an injustice. The Piccolomini palace/museum is a stop worth doing and I suggest (strongly), the museum store! The store has books in various languages and has a lovely refined presentation and ambiance as well as fabulous gifts in the offerings. The store is quite unlike Italy; in that it is so nicely presented and lighted…hum maybe foreigners are behind it. ;-))I could imagine how great it would be to cycle Pienza and the surrounding area, stopping to taste cheese at the numerous farms alongside the roads, to picnic and wine taste (hum, on bikes)? Then again, a driver would be great too so the wine tasting could occur in full force…giggle ;-)) A dopo!