Next to thePorta al Ciglio, in the street St. Charles, there is the ex Conservatory of St. Charles that has been built in the fourteenth century exploiting the walls of the town. Today it is the home of the archaeological museum.
Montalcino is a beautiful Tuscan hill town, which sits looking over the Orcia valley, 23km west of Pienza. It is famous for its wine - Brunello di Montalcino, which is one of the best (and most expensive) wines produced in Italy.
We stayed in Montalcino for two nights, tasted our fair share of the local drop and explored the surrounding area. Our hotel room had views across the valley, in fact the early morning view from our window was one of the most stunning I have seen in Italy.
Montalcino really is a lovely town - the landscape around it is gorgeous, and there is that very drinkable wine to consider! It makes a great day trip or half day trip from Pienza.
For more details, check out my Montalcino page.
Located just 14km from Pienza is the a amiable hill town of Montepulciano, which sits perched atop a narrow ridge of volcanic rock in central Tuscany. The towns main street climbs steeply to Piazza Grande, and along the way gourmet food & wine shops tempt you.
While you are there, take the time to sample some local cuisine in one of the excellent restaurants, and more importantly, try some of the town's most famous product - Vino Nobile di Montepulciano - a flavoursome red wine, which is produced here.
Other attractions include the Duomo and surrounding grand buildings, dark cellars to explore and of course, don't forget about the wine ; ) You won't be disappointed by the views from the city walls either!
For more details, visit my Montepulciano page
About 20 km northwest from Pienza you may have a rest in Abbazia d. Monte Oliveto Maggiore. It is an very old (beginning 1319) abbey accepting the rules of St. Benedict. Its incredibly located on a long ridge high above a valley of the "crete senesi" mountains. You can see the complete location from some spots of the street. Driving towards it, you first arrive at a tower with a drawbridge. Its the abbey entrance. There is a good, payable restaurant with tuscan food. Walking through a cypress alley, you reach the abbey itself. It has an impressing cloister with 36 frescoes (about 1500) and a very nice church. An impressing, quiet place, which also offers a guest house for a ruminant stay. Phonenumber on the website.
It was a special day when we were in Pienza as they were having a Blessing of the Animals in the plaza in front of the Duomo Santa Maria Assunta. All sorts of animals were being brought for a blessing. One little girl did not have a pet so she brought her stuffed animal. It was a wonderful local tradition that we were able to observe. I had pictures of my four footed kids who were at home so they got to participate in a virtual way.
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Etruscan families were known for their spiritual women and their "gifts". Although we do hardly know anything about the Etruscans (where did they came from, maybe from Asia Minor?), we just read today the Etruscan legends, either from Roman historians or out of ancient Greek history.
Greeks and Romans regarded the Etruscans as immorally. Because ot their sexual behaviour, their witchcraft (?), or piracy on the Mediterreanean region, but there is no evidence for all of that.
Tuscany does show up with may influences originated by Etruscans, named by Hesiod in his "Theogony". The Etruscan language hasn't been decoded yet. Homer wrote about a mixture of legends and facts from the period around 750 BC in Ionian Greece, part of Asia Minor. Its Tarot is well-known with the Celtic, too! That is the one regarded as occult, I love to read those ...
Go for a ride around Pienza. Enjoy a close reach of the Renaissance glories, where the regions authentic life is still to be found. In the South you'll find 2 areas of more Tuscany beauty: the Val d’Orcia and the Maremma. The breathtaking views just are waiting for your discovering. The rustic spheres will be intensified by its inhabitants, included the cows within your sight ...
It was Enea Silvio who founded Pienza town. He became Pope Pio II in 1458. See Piazza Dome that took his name and literally is the cornerstone of town (also to be seen in Romeo and Juliet directed by Franco Zeffirelli). See great landscapes, charming villages, ancient towers, old casteles. On the way we met these old fellows ... and had a sight at Pienza too ... amazing !!!
The Porta al Ciglio (Ciglio Gateway)is made with a round arc in bricks. It is located at the end of Corso Rosellino.