Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pienza

Peaceful Pienza

We were bored here.

At first.

But like a new best friend, the more we got to know Pienza, the more we liked it. And the longer we walked the flower-filled streets of Pienza, the more we loved it.

Why, I felt like I was "cheating" on my new loves Montepulciano and Cortona.

While the skies were alive with darting swallows, the streets of Pienza were super sleepy (proof above)... we remembered we had landed in Pienza on a day when Italy was playing in The World Cup. A holy day. Store windows boasted TVs... and folks flocked, eyes glued to the game. The diversion gave us the perfect chance to get to know Pienza up close and personal.

How To Get There:
Sorry, folks. There's no train station or boat dock here. You're in the middle of the beautiful Italian countryside. We arrived via rental car from our nearby stay in S. Albino.

Suggested Stay:

A day trip (or two).

Must See | Do:

The Path To Pienza.
No matter from what direction in which you arrive to Pienza, you'll think you've found heaven on Earth. If you pinch yourself, you'll discover you're actually in the Val d'Orcia, located deep in the heart of Central Texas Italy.

Like migrating geese, we instinctively knew the beauty of this place without even properly "presearching" Pienza or knowing of its import
ance in advance. At one point we literally pulled the car off the curvy road to stop and take a picture of a tiny little building gracefully set amidst rolling hills (above). I later found out when researching stateside that I was only a short sprint from La Madonna di Vitaleta, a famous chapel dating back to 1590. It's surely as special to Italy as the Alamo is to Texas.

Pienza's Trapezoidal Piazza.
While writing this post, I discovered that the heart of Pienza as well as the surrounding Val d'Orcia are both named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means they are uniquely listed as a "site of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity." There are only about 1,000 documented in the world and as you'd suspect, Italy is home to the greatest number of sites, with 45 inscriptions on the UNESCO list.

The four buildings which define the trapezoidal piazza ~ Palazzo Piccolomini, The Duomo, Palazzo Vescovile and Palazzo Comunale ~ are livingexamples of the utopian ideal city designed by architects of the 15th century... the first urban planning concept. Since I didn't research this ahead of time, I only knew these buildings as "another church" and "some old, cool buildings." Finger to forehead. Oh, to go back!

Eateries.Affamato?

On the western side of the village, you can stop at the charming Caffe Rionegro. We did, and enjoyed limon and coconut gelato. One staff member was frantically setting up a video screen al fresco so customers could enjoy The World Cup (red pants, white belt, white shirt and white watch above). While Italy was sadly booted from The Cup that day, we still found ourselves grateful for our chance to "buck the odds" to be in Italy!

Trattoria Latte di Luna.
As our tourist's time clock would have it, this trattoria was closed mid-afternoon. Since Latte di Luna was suggested by our host in S. Albino, you should make it a point to reserve your table here. We hear their pici is really tasty. You can catch Latte di Luna on Facebook in-between meals.

The
Simple
Things.
Cycling or walking this beautiful stretch of Italy may be the best way to fully ingest its magic. No agendas. No checklists. Just 100% pure Italy. And while inside Pienza's walls, you'll notice cars are not allowed here. No hustle and bustle! The weekly market is held on Friday ("venerdi"). While we missed it, it serves as another excuse to travel back.

Like the simple joys of vanilla
gelato, the smell of rosemary or line-dried clothes, you'll find Pienza a special stop deep in the heart of Tuscany.

Next Up? San Gimignano. Get ready to make your way to the tower power of "San Gimi!"

for the love of : italy

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