Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pienza, Montepulciano and Monticchiello

I am loving Cetona so much that it is hard to summon up the motivation to go anywhere else! However...other towns and the countryside also beckon, so we went on a little roadtrip around southern Tuscany.   August 4th was off to an absolutely breathtaking start, with a glorious sunburst of heavenly rays lighting up the sky and the beautiful scenery below our home. We had breakfast and then headed out in the car for Pienza and then Montepulciano.

Here I am in Pienza, lounging on the wall that runs the length of the panoramic terrace.  We thought "this must be the best view ever!!"  (Until we got back in the car, and every bend in the road brought a delightful new feast for the eyes!)
The Duomo in Pienza contained some gorgeous paintings.  I especially liked this one by Giovanni di Paolo, called Madonna con Bambino e i Santi Bernadano, Sabina, Francesco e Antonio abate (1463).  There is a serenity about the Sienese style that appeals to me.
Close to the Duomo is a small Francescan church, quite plain and very peaceful.  There were several fresco fragments on the wall, some quite deteriorated, others in excellent condition.
This is one of my favourite photos.  I was standing behind the massive stone altar, ready to snap a photo looking down through the church, and this man limped in.  Love the silhouette against the light blazing through the doorway.
We left Pienza and headed along to Montepulciano, where we had lunch.  And a tasty lunch it was!  Mom had beef stew with mushrooms, and I had wild boar in wine sauce...washed down with wine, of course!  (Although the downside of being the driver is that I can only have one glass when we're out touring around...so maybe I won't need that post-trip detox period after all! lol)

A random street in Montepulciano...I thought the greenery was lovely.  We are constantly remarking on how every inch of space is utilized over here.  A tiny garden here, a fruit tree there.  Very ingenuous sometimes.
Inside the cathedral of Montepulciano, what did my wandering eyes land upon?  A wonderful glazed terracotta piece by Andrea della Robbia.  How beautiful!
After wandering around Montepulciano, we stopped in the Temple of San Biagio, at the bottom of the hill.  The light was just streaming through the windows, and I couldn't resist getting Mom to snap a photo of me standing in the light!

San Biagio perched below Montepulciano...a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture.
Once we left Montepulciano, we decided to drive through the countryside instead of taking one of the larger roads home.  So we veered down one of the white gravel roads and came to Monticchielo.  A delightful little town.  Mom found a shady bench on which to relax, while I wandered along the old town walls.
 I had such a pleasant stroll...just me and the trees and this wonderful vista below.  I am so grateful for this amazing experience.  My soul felt at peace leaning against the massive stone wall, listening to the wind in the trees, watching the light dancing through the olive leaves.

Back on the road again...
How stunningly beautiful is the drive through Val d'Orcia.  One runs out of adjectives to describe it!  Mile after mile of rolling golden hills, cypress lined roads, shady groves overhung with branches of huge old birches or pines, beautiful stone towns atop the hills...
And the wonderful Chianina cattle!  I love cows in the first place, and these big white ones are magnificent.  We pulled over beside a farm to check them out up close and personal.  This beauty gazed at us for a bit, then ambled over to join the rest of the herd by the watering hole.
Eventually we headed for home...leaving behind these gorgeous fields, at least for this day.  This daytrip was on Aug 4, and we are here until the 13th, so we'll see these fields again, I'm sure!


Lynn said...

The countryside you have covered so far is very beautiful. Wish I was there! Anyway, I'm glad you and Mom are having such a fabulous trip. Everyone and everything is good here.

Anne said...

It is astonishly beautiful!! And we wish you were here too! Thanks for the update, glad to hear all is well. (In case I haven't hinted enough already...you should get skype!!!! Have really enjoyed being able to video chat with Dave, the girls and Valerie. What a fabulous way to keep in touch when travelling!)

Trekcapri said...

Hi Anne, I'm getting some wonderful "future" trip ideas from you by reading your fabulous blog entries. I have yet to visit this part of Italy and now it is high on my must see list like all the towns you've been visiting. It's fun traveling along with you and your mom. :)

That photo of you in church is very cool. I almost want to hear what you were thinking at the time. The landscape views are so green and beautiful.

I am so enjoying reading about all these new places that I have not really spent any time learning about. Thank you so much for sharing your photos and fun times with us. My "must see list" in Italy has doubled now. :)

Keep on having fun...

Anne said...

trekcapri, it is extraordinarily beautiful in this part of Tuscany! I wasn't thinking anything particularly profound while standing in the light, I'm afraid...just humming the hymn Children of the Light.

I'm glad you're getting some ideas, and Cetona is a great home base for exploring parts of Tuscany and Umbria.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I had to click to see your photos of montepulciano... I am going back in May and I'm so excited!
We stay at Tenuta Santo Pietro~ just off the road to Pienza.


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