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2023 Spring Northern Italy 3 #303128
06/22/2023 11:01 AM
06/22/2023 11:01 AM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 3,493
VIRGINIA
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BEERMAN Offline OP
Traveler
BEERMAN  Offline OP
Traveler
B
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 3,493
VIRGINIA
April 11-25, 2023


I have to be honest, years ago when we first visited Florence I was not overly impressed. Back on our first trip we arrived at night, stayed near the train station, the walk at night felt...seedy? Not researching much we made a poor decision to try dining right next to the Duomo receiving terrible service and subpar food, all in all not a great first impression. We have learned now to go a couple blocks from main attractions for dinner!! After a couple more visits this place has really grown on me, we absolutely love it! We walked a lot the past 2 days, from hitting the iconic sites to the more suburban and obscure settings on the outskirts of town, we enjoyed it all and will return.


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The location of our B&B Assaporarte offered us convenient access to the city. A few steps out our door to Piazza Santa Maria Novella we found a taxi stand to catch a short ride to our rental car. Our walking app said it was a 40 minute walk, but not interested in that! I was very relaxed the last 2 days and now I was anxiously observing traffic patterns and the many different road signs. The rental company had a Jeep Renegade ready, but offered us a reasonable upgrade to a brand new Lynk&Co SUV, had never seen one of these Swedish/Chinese cars before, it was very nice and comfortable! It had 44 kilometers on it! After a quick check out by EuropCar we were on our way south! (Pic from end of trip, it was filthy!)


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It was pretty easy getting out of the city, thankful for in-car technology and our phones. The drive was pleasant and after about 2 hours we made a pit stop in Montepulciano. We didn't panic park down below, instead drove higher up and found a free parking space. A couple flights of stairs and we were in this wonderful hill town. This break was needed because we had 3 hours until we checked into Pienza. We stopped in Villa Puccini Cantina and enjoyed some cheese, meats and wine. It's a pretty cool cellar! For some reason I always feel obligated to purchase something when they share their time, but the wine we bought was just ok. What was really enjoyable was strolling the streets without a ton of people. We commented on how peaceful it felt here compared to the big city. We walked as much as we could then stopped for take away focaccia , our comfort food!


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It was a short scenic 20 minute drive to Pienza, remembering parts of the drive from years ago. The countryside was a gorgeous green and the absence of grapes did not detract from its beauty.


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We did some research on parking around Pienza and found the parking lot across the street from the COOP was convenient. At the backside of the paved pay parking is unpaved and free. A local told us we could keep the car there as long as we wanted! The 5 minute walk to the towns arched entrance was easy. We had considered an Agriturismo stay, but chose to stay inside the city walls to really experience this awesome hill town...and drink a bit of wine! Our airbnb, Renaissance Apartment, was in the center right next to the Piccolomini (aka Pope Pius II) Cafe/Restaurant. The nice greeter was the daughter of the owners, she actually grew up in this house, what a childhood!! It is a large 3 level home, had everything we needed and more, even access to a small rooftop deck!


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Pienza is an UNESCO site. Pope Pius II was born here and in 1459 he decided to make the town his summer getaway and put a face lift on the town and opted to incorporate the Renaissance style..with a little Gothic tossed in. IT's BEAUTIFUL!


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We were limited to a couple hours here a few years ago and we were eager to really dig in and walk it this time, it's perfectly tiny. There were a few people shopping the stores on the main street and hanging out at the various cafe's, but not as many as I had expected. We walked down every cobbled stoned alley and just outside the town. My favorite part of town is near the cheese shops, the smell of Pecorino was definitely in the air!
There's a picturesque outer walkway along the city wall facing Val d' Orcia where we parked ourselves at a cafe for drinks. There may be no greater views in Tuscany.... fresh air, wide open spaces.


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Our greeter recommended a couple restaurants inside and outside of the walls. The first one we stopped in did not have a reservation time available, but our neighbor The Piccolomini's did, they have a restaurant in the courtyard that we could see from our kitchen window. They also have a cafe entrance from the main street. The food and service was wonderful, I had ragu and my wife had artichoke with pecorino lasagna, very good lasagna!



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After our delicious dinner we slowly walked the cobble stones under the warm yellow hue of Tuscan lights. We have always enjoyed our walks at night in various hill towns and have never felt uncomfortable and certainly never unsafe, this holds true in Pienza


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To be continued..........

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Re: 2023 Spring Northern Italy 3 [Re: BEERMAN] #303140
06/22/2023 02:58 PM
06/22/2023 02:58 PM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 397
Greer SC
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bostonbob Offline
Traveler
bostonbob  Offline
Traveler
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Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 397
Greer SC
Always enjoy reading your reports. Your scenic and food photos are fantastic.
Looking forward to the rest of your trip!


Lived most of my life in Massachusetts
Re: 2023 Spring Northern Italy 3 [Re: bostonbob] #303153
06/22/2023 08:41 PM
06/22/2023 08:41 PM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 3,493
VIRGINIA
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BEERMAN Offline OP
Traveler
BEERMAN  Offline OP
Traveler
B
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 3,493
VIRGINIA
Always appreciate your comments bostonbob!

Re: 2023 Spring Northern Italy 3 [Re: BEERMAN] #303874
07/11/2023 01:37 PM
07/11/2023 01:37 PM
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 2,423
Miramichi NB Canada
Sandsailsun Offline
Traveler
Sandsailsun  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 2,423
Miramichi NB Canada
My goodness these pictures are just spectacular! What a talent you have for capturing this beautiful place .


Kim

Re: 2023 Spring Northern Italy 3 [Re: BEERMAN] #304175
07/19/2023 07:10 AM
07/19/2023 07:10 AM
Joined: Jul 2023
Posts: 13
C
clark_henry Offline
Traveler
clark_henry  Offline
Traveler
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Joined: Jul 2023
Posts: 13
Wow! These pictures are absolutely astounding! They are simply awe-inspiring. I would love to visit there someday.


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