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Bella Vita-Das gute Leben Part 6 #154400
02/04/2018 11:40 PM
02/04/2018 11:40 PM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 3,123
VIRGINIA
B
BEERMAN Offline OP
Traveler
BEERMAN  Offline OP
Traveler
B
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 3,123
VIRGINIA
Belle Vita - Das gute Leben Part 6


We awoke in the castle as usual, o'dark early, it was extremely quiet surrounded by 18 inch stone walls! I wish I had a ghost story for you, but got noth'in to report! Seriously?? we had creaky doors with heavy clanky latches and everything. Our full length antique mirror even had those cloudy flaws in it, kept looking over my shoulder in hopes of seeing an 11th century apparition, noth'in ha!

Today was going to be an active and bright sunshine filled day visiting the Chianti countryside, so we fueled up on the very nice breakfast provided at the castle. Fresh baked goods and an assortment of local meats and cheeses never get old! We loaded into the Kia and began our colorful journey to the first of three hill top villages, Montepulciano. Did I say "colorful"? it was if we had walked into a classic painting surrounded by warm hues of yellow, green, red and terra cotta to name a few.


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Montepulciano really delivered on what we had wanted to experience in a relatively small medieval village, including the obvious renaissance feel of the Piazza Grande. The village was loaded with shops, restaurants and of course its prominent Duomo and 16th century church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The detail in the architecture throughout was incredible. We paid a few euro to climb to the top of the Tower Palazzo del Comunale and what an outstanding view of the village and surrounding countryside of Val d' Orcia. The sky was beautiful and so clear we could see as far as Siena and Mt. Cimone, beautiful! We did relax in a small cafe to enjoy a cup of coffee, but the area is well known for its Il vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine, which we would wait to enjoy once back in Florence on Sunday!


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Down the road a piece was village number 2, Pienza! Perhaps our favorite stop the entire weekend. Pienza is known for its world famous and mighty tasty Pecorino cheese...oh and of course the birthplace of Pope Pius II makes it special too! Back in the 90's Pienza was designated an UNESCO World Heritage site and actually in 2004 the entire area of Val d' Orcia was recognized by UNESCO as well. We really enjoy off the beaten path types of places and we all three agreed that a return trip to Pienza was a must in the future. Compared to Montepulciano's population of 14,000 Pienza's 2000 really made this village feel more intimate and peaceful, only saw a few dozen people!

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The local people in Pienza were absolutely incredible, especially at family run Terrezza Val d' Orcia where we had lunch. We arrived at the end of their lunch hour and felt that we were infringing on their traditional "Italian siesta" time, but they insisted that we stay and sat us at a beautiful table overlooking the valley. A few customers were finishing lunch on the patio and the father/owner was sitting next to us drinking wine with his buddies whose Italian conversation was loud and animated, but in a seriously great way!! He came over and struck up conversation and really made us feel welcome. He described our view and added cool little details such as pointing out an estate in the valley that was in the film Gladiator, if you've seen the movie it was the scene where Russell Crowe dreams of walking up a long driveway to reunite with his wife, cool. Lunch was a small feast consisting of Tagliatelle with ragu, fresh bread, green salads and my wifes favorite grilled local cheese, the portion looked like 3 large grilled chicken breasts...perfecto! The house wine they were serving was an outstanding Talenti Rosso di Montalcino from the nearby region. We didn't want to leave this family or Pienza, but after buying a small wheel of Pecorino from the local shop we reluctantly climbed back into the Kia.

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Last stop of the day would be in the largest city of the day with a population of 55,000+-, Siena. It was also recently named an UNESCO site. All of our villages were only about a 20km drive or so from one another and our castle was only 20 minutes from Siena, which made it a convenient stop. Along the way in the golden valley of Val d' Orcia Donna would occasionally say "STOP, turn around!" there was a photo op around every bend!

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Siena was the most confusing stop of the day based on its size and the fact that we didn't research its layout much. We found a parking spot and "hiked" up the old cobble stone streets and alleys gushing with history until we found the Piazza del Compo. This piazza is huge! It's designed in a fan shape where people, lots of people, were sitting everywhere enjoying the last of the days sunshine. Twice a year Siena puts on a medieval horse race right on the large piazza, that would be something to see! The brilliant light at sunset reflecting off of the towering clock tower was amazing, but with the sun fading fast and our legs starting to feel the effects of the day we decided it was time to head back to Castello di Tornano.


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Driving in the dark was a little challenging especially with the narrow winding back roads and locals driving like Mario Andretti! 20 minutes later we were pulling safely into the castles parking lot. The up lighting on the castle at night looked really cool. Checked on our dinner reservation and they were ready for us whenever we were ready! After a little more vino, great soups and a wonderful dessert it was time for our comfortable beds!!


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To be continued....ciao!!

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Re: Bella Vita-Das gute Leben Part 6 [Re: BEERMAN] #154414
02/05/2018 09:37 AM
02/05/2018 09:37 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 72,618
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Posts: 72,618
Central Florida!
Stunning pictures as always, and that dessert makes me hungry!!


Carol Hill
Re: Bella Vita-Das gute Leben Part 6 [Re: BEERMAN] #154449
02/05/2018 02:28 PM
02/05/2018 02:28 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,659
L
LBI2SXM Offline
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LBI2SXM  Offline
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Posts: 2,659
What a beautiful picture of you and your gorgeous family at lunch. That's a real keeper!! All of your pics are stunning! What a great experience, enjoyed every detail.

Re: Bella Vita-Das gute Leben Part 6 [Re: LBI2SXM] #154475
02/05/2018 08:00 PM
02/05/2018 08:00 PM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 3,123
VIRGINIA
B
BEERMAN Offline OP
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BEERMAN  Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 3,123
VIRGINIA
Thank you LBI2SXM. You know that pic of the 3 of us is one of our very favorites!...and that pic was a selfie with the cell phone, why do I keep lugging around that big camera?? Please keep reading I'm finally on a roll getting these out!

Re: Bella Vita-Das gute Leben Part 6 [Re: BEERMAN] #154485
02/05/2018 09:44 PM
02/05/2018 09:44 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,659
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LBI2SXM Offline
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LBI2SXM  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,659
Yea, throw the big time camera in the river LOL. You are certainly going to have some beautiful memories of all your trips.

Re: Bella Vita-Das gute Leben Part 6 [Re: BEERMAN] #154524
02/06/2018 12:35 PM
02/06/2018 12:35 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 3,027
Virginia wishing STJ
TomB Offline
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TomB  Offline
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Posts: 3,027
Virginia wishing STJ
No no no!!!!!
Do not throw big camera in the river!

I am really enjoying all the pics and stories.
Keep them coming.


Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Re: Bella Vita-Das gute Leben Part 6 [Re: TomB] #154541
02/06/2018 05:33 PM
02/06/2018 05:33 PM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 3,123
VIRGINIA
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BEERMAN Offline OP
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BEERMAN  Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2011
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VIRGINIA
Go big or go home!

Re: Bella Vita-Das gute Leben Part 6 [Re: BEERMAN] #156960
03/17/2018 06:17 AM
03/17/2018 06:17 AM
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,844
Portland, OR
jazzgal Online content
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jazzgal  Online Content
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Portland, OR
Your pictures are simply spectacular!


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Re: Bella Vita-Das gute Leben Part 6 [Re: jazzgal] #157084
03/19/2018 09:05 AM
03/19/2018 09:05 AM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 3,123
VIRGINIA
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BEERMAN Offline OP
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BEERMAN  Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2011
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Thanks again!


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