Lauren and I have been in Italy for a whole week. The time has flown by; it has been hard to take the time to write about it, but there is so much to say. We were in Florence for the first two days, then Siena for two days and then three days in Pienza (south of Siena in the Val D’orcia). The photo to the right is from our hotel in Siena. I am going to work backwards and tell you about Pienza because there is far too much for one blog and it was really the highlight of our time in Italy.
From Siena, we drove an hour or so (in our sporty Fiat 500) to an inn/gentleman’s farm called Tenuta Santo Pietro (www.tenutasantopietro.com). This estate is owned and operated by Giuseppe Savignano and his wife, Natalia. Giuseppe works with his brother Nicola Savignano and his wife, Whitney (from Manchester). Nicola arranges visits and also exports some of their olive oil and wine to the United States. The inn, which is actually a 14th century monastery is impeccably renovated – complete with beautiful Italian linens and furniture and unbelievable views. The location is incredible! View from Tenuta Santo Pietro
On our first day, Giuseppe helped us plan an eight mile hike to Monticchiello- a nearby hillside town . We walked through olive trees and vineyards to the back of their property which connects their land to the dirt roads that join the ancient hilltop towns of Pienza, Montepulciano,Montalcino, Radicofani and Montefollonico. Santo Pietro is a part of a protected farm system which was originally laid out by Pope Pius II in the mid 1400s. Below is the view from the restaurant in Monticchiello, where we ate that night. I don’t think I have ever seen a more beautiful landscape. We were struck by was the fact that the 13th century farmer’s contribution: the stone farm houses, vineyards, rows of crops, and tree-lined dirt roads truly add to the beautiful tapestry of the landscape.
Later in the day, we returned to Monticchiello for dinner and it was delicious. The owner of the restaurant helped us with the menu and was so gracious. I am going to write in the next entry about our favorite restaurant in this area which was La Botte Pienza (www.labottepiena.com), but they were all fantastic.
Please check out the web site for this incredible inn at http://www.tenutasantopietro.com. I would love to go back and this would be an excellent place for a group of friends (who wants to go?). Other activities include wine tastings, cooking lessons, helping with the harvest, exploring the many beautiful towns, lying by the pool and relaxing and more. Fantastic!! Many thanks to Giuseppe for his kind and generous hospitality.