Originally the trip started as my desire to photograph the Val d’Orcia. The area is beautiful, picturesque with rolling hills and positioned cypress trees that amaze you. As you look out a window and gaze over the horizon, you want to pinch yourself. The air seems to be cooler, more fragrant and sunsets seem to embrace you with their golden hues.
Arriving in Pienza was more than I hoped, as we effortlessly found our hotel, the San Gregorio, had parking extremely close by. Not to mention, they had a beautiful swimming pool and there was a playground nearby. It was looking great for us, for sure! After we dropped our bags off, we started a walk into the town. I smelled something sharp as it penetrated my nostrils. Then I knew what it was–Pecorino cheese! This was not an everyday cheese. This was the cheese my mother used with a nice sharp “kick” or “bite” to it. I loved it and I had reached Mecca. So many differing cheese or “cacio”, whose flavor differs based on its aging. You should see the shop window I photographed, I resisted breaking the glass. You guessed it, I did finally get some cheese–legally. The sunsets were amazing and could be seen from the overlooks around the town each evening.
But beyond cheeses, a lovely hotel and idyllic sunsets, there is the town itself. Welcoming streets, window boxes spilling flowers and wide open piazzas. Pienza is located in the heart of the Val d’Orcia, a gem that was an ideal Renaissance town in its day/
Upon leaving, I left with more than just photographs. We walked the town and also learned more about the Val d’Orcia and that is not just strong winds and good soil that give it the gorgeous look of today. This combination of art and landscape, ecosystem and geography were strategically created into what we see today, which is an absolutely amazing site. Thankfully this is now a UNESCO site. Further, we did those drives and visited local wineries. However, I’ll leave those for another post.