Rick Steves Pienza

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April 23rd 2016
Published: April 23rd 2016
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Dateline: Pienza, Italy

Well, the excitement this week is that Rick Steves and his crew are at Cretaiole (www.cretaiole.it) , an Agriturismo owned by the wonderful Isabella Moricciani and her family. You may remember from our blogs a few years ago that we stayed at Cretaiole, which is an amazing farm, and got to know Isabella. Evidently Rick is filming an episode about this area and part of it will be about the beautiful Cretaiole. We’ll let you know, when we know, the episode is coming out! If you’re coming to Tuscany you want to stay here ;-)

Our friend Claudia texted us to “Get up!”, so we could go do something before the rains come in. While I was getting dressed, Cope walked over to the Friday Farmer’s Market and picked up some beautiful, large fresh strawberries, some tomatoes and oranges. When he got back I was ready and we headed to our usual place by the side of the road to wait for our ride ;-). Since this is also the main road to the Farmer’s Market we started seeing people we know ;-) The lady who helps with our apartment rental, Adriana, came by with her produce in a rolling bag and we shared buongiorno’s and smiles. She was as happy to see us as we were her ;-) Then…Claudia and Gary came zipping up the hill and we jumped in.

What a spectacular day. The valley and hills were deep green with clouds coming in overhead, interspersed with sunshine. We first stopped by a 350 year old tree. Doesn’t sound too exciting except that when you see it in person surrounded by healthy wheat fields, like you may have seen in the movie, “Gladiator”, the tree seems to “talk” to us from centuries past.

We next traveled across the River Orcia and to the hills by Mt. Amiata. As we were traveling along a tiny road, Claudia pulled over and we made a stop at an amazing very old little chapel in a cave carved into a granite mountain, Grotta di San Filippo Benizi, (For those of you who came to Tuscany with me a couple of years ago, you’ll remember this little chapel in the forest. We saw it just before we headed to the Roman baths in the forest.) It is so magical here and it is clearly tended and cared for. We didn’t really want to leave but …there was lots more to see. We headed up the mountain to Vivo d’Orcia where we stopped for lunch at a Bar- Fonte Vecchia. Just as we sat down outside the clouds parted and the sun came out! Yes… just as it should be. All along the way of course there were beautiful villages on tops of the hills and even those that perhaps to an Italian are not so pretty, were beautiful to us. Stone homes that are hundreds of years old against rolling green hills, some dotted with fluffy white sheep.

After winding around the hillsides, we made a stop at Abetina Del Vivo. There were thousands of tall Silver Fir trees which made a lacy green canopy over the stream and trail as we walked along through the fallen leaves. Through an old arch, and on our right was a gigantic old stone building that served as the home for Counts in centuries past.

This day was already wonderful but there was more. We stopped and Gary got out walking sticks for all of us. Okay, we hoped we’d be up for this ;-) We walked up a fairly steep road and around the bend up a mountain some more till we came to some steps on our right leading to the Eremicciolo di San Benedetto, which was a monastery from the beginning of the 12th Century and possibly dating to 1000 AD. Pope Pius II, founder of Pienza, visited in 1464. After a rest, some photos and a peaceful visit, we next headed to the top of about 5000’ Mt. Amiata which is a ski area in the winter. Not one car passed us on the way up. The high season here is the middle of winter. The forest here is made up of the beautiful Silver Firs covering the road like umbrellas. At the top we reached the ski resort with snow still on some of the slopes. Lovely day, hope you enjoy the photos. We headed back down the hills and to the highway where we stop for gas! Gary does a great job of filling us up ;-)

We have to tell you … we are loving just “being” here in Pienza and the Val d’Orcia. We have friends and are making new ones. We could stay here a VERY long time ;-)

Additional photos below
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23rd April 2016

Beautiful, of course. Are you anywhere near or will you be visiting Montalcino? We have a favorite wine from there so it's of great interest to us.
23rd April 2016

Montalcino is about 30 km directly west of us. Unfortunately on this trip we will not be anywhere near as we opted for only walking and no car. What is the name of the wine you like?
23rd April 2016

It's Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino. But, of course, Italy is full of beautiful wines. Enjoy!

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