On the road again … next stop Pienza, just a stone’s throw away! This is one town in Tuscany where I would love to live. Pienza has it all … history, art, culture, breathtaking Tuscan views, food, wine and authentic pecorino cheese … does it get any better?
Not much! This beautiful town is described as the “touchstone of Renaissance urbanism” and in 1996 was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site all thanks to its founder Enea Silvio Piccolomini whom later became Pope Pius II. His aristocratic family was banished from Siena due to the politics of the day and moved to the rural village of Corsignano. Once Enea became Pope he transformed the village into a “utopian city” of humanistic design and renamed it Pienza.
Unfortunately Pope Pius II disappeared shortly after the completion and was never heard from again. I have to admit, there is a certain fairy tale quality to Pienza and the story is quite intriguing … apparently Signore Piccolomini was also know for his erotic writings before becoming Pope.
But back to 2015 … first stop cheese please! Pecorino di Pienza is a raw milk sheep’s cheese that has been produced since the time of the Etruscans. The sheep are of the sardo breed and raised in open pastures grazing exclusively on the local flora. The aromas of juniper, wormwood, burnet and other rare plants that grow in the clay soil infuse the milk with delicate flavours and a buttery consistency. Take a look at this pecorino cheese shop! By the way, pecorino pairs perfectly with the wines of the region.
There is so much to see in this magical town with a population of just over 2,000. The Church of San Francesco built by the followers of San Francesco di Assisi in 1182 and recently restored is worth a visit.
Next door is the cloister that reminded me of The Game of Thrones.
It was a very hot day while we were roaming the streets and with a mission to find some shade and a bite to eat we happened on a fabulous little restaurant that was one of the best meals we had in Italy. The Townhouse Caffé (I know … not very Italian right?) sits in the walled medieval garden of La Bandita Townhouse, a 12-room luxury boutique hotel tucked inside the historic center of Pienza. In fact, the owner is not Italian at all and the chef is from Scotland. Former VP of International Marketing for Sony, John Voigtmann, quit his high powered job in 2005 and along with his wife, Condé Nast Travel contributor Ondine Cohane, purchased the abandoned villa that is now their chic home and business. Now that’s living! ps please take a look at their website, you’ll fall in love …
Zucchine Carpaccio, refined and delicate …. must try Tomato and Goats Cheese Cream Ravioli … I missed the photo because I was just too busy eating!
Finally, an afternoon stroll through the streets of Pienza and a stop at the local “you can get anything here” shop to buy some clothes pins – we need to wash our clothes and they don’t use dryers in Italy.
A scenic drive back to Montepulciano for the evening …. another beautiful day in Tuscany and more to come. Next stop is all about the wine!