How my family and I did not visit the village of Pienza last year when we were in southern Tuscany we don’t know – but this completely charming Italian hillside town epitomizes Tuscan beauty and was just what we needed after a busy city stay in Rome.
We had returned, once again, to the Cortona area in Tuscany for a one week stay. One of our local Italian friends told us to go, saying that it is her favorite town in the region – and after a visit we could see why! Built into the hillside as a long ago fortress, this renaissance town has panoramic views of the valley and countryside below. A walking path takes you around the outer part of the village, so no matter where you are, you can walk out of the town center for a view.
Small cobblestone streets weave in and around, with a main street full of boutique and design shops, wine stores, restaurants and gelaterias. We ate lunch at the exquisite La Terrazza e La Corte del Chiosto, a hotel and restaurant overlooking the rolling hills and farm land below. We thought it might be too upscale to take the kids, but after seeing other children there and a courtyard for them to run around, we sat down and promptly ordered a bottle of wine. With a view like this, wine was in order. The food was excellent, one of the best meals of the trip, but it took a long time to come. Clearly they were understaffed…yet the setting was so beautiful and relaxing it was hard to complain. Better yet, upon leaving, they gave us a free bottle of wine and apologized about the wait. My kind of place.
We walked around after lunch, noting that every turn we took was a postcard picture (it really is one of those sort of towns), and did our due diligence by going to the town’s Duomo. It was fine enough, but we particularly liked the square it was situated in. With huge sculptures of human faces, it was quite dramatic of a space. We mainly walked around and dipped into shops, and spent some time at the most amazing gourmet food and wine store called Marusco e Maria.
To keep the kids busy we made sure to buy them some gelato and souvenirs, as well as take them down all the “secret passageways” we could find, of which there were many. It was one of our more relaxing days, just strolling around the town and taking in the views. If you are in Southern Tuscany, Pienza is a must visit!