Day 13: May 23 – Pienza > Monte San Savino

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Up bright and early to a very nice day predicted to go up into the 20’s. We had planned to go to Civita de Bagnoregio today, but it involved a lot of climbing. which we agreed wouldn’t be good for Bonnie’s deepening cough. We settled on driving to Pienza: it’s fairly close, considerably flatter and more easily negotiated. Pienza, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, is in the province of Sienna, close to Montepulciano and Montalcino.

We got on the road about 10:30 and, on the way, passed through Petroio, which is famous for its terra cotta. Everywhere you go around here, whether it’s private homes, villas, restaurants, etc. there are countless clay pots that likely came from Petroio.

We arrived in Pienza shortly after 11:00. Yet another interesting hilltop, walled town. You’d think they’d all be the same, but they all have their own personality and things they’re famous for. Pienza has built its reputation on Pecorino cheese. We walked into a couple of cheese shops….I could have spent the whole day there breathing in the smells of the cheeses. The cheese we bought at the Foiano market the other day was Pecorino cheese.

We took some steps down to the walls to check out the view which, again, was fabulous. In the photo below, you can see Monte Amiata, the largest lava dome in southern Tuscany, partially obscured by the massive white clouds. Monte Amiata is an inactive, but not dead, volcanic mountain a little over 1,700 meters high. It is still percolating 3 to 7 miles below the surface and provides southern Tuscany with some of its more famous hot springs.

Shortly after arriving, Charlie went to one of their favourite Pienza restaurants, Trattoria Latte di Luna, to make a lunch reservation. He was told 12:30, no later.

We had some time to kill and a great place to kill it in. C&C led us down a very colourful street to the promenade along the outside wall.

Our first stops was at a local artist’s ceramic shop at the bottom of the steps. C&C had shopped at Ceramiche d’Arte before. Linda Bai, the artist, had great work! C&C bought a few more pieces as did we. We continued on wandering along the promenade by the outside wall overlooking the Sienna countryside.

A Belgium couple asked me to take a photo under the ‘Via Dell’ Amore’ street sign and they returned the favour.

We were still early for our 12:30 reservation, but we headed in that direction and were shown to a table on their patio. When we’ve been dining out, we have each been ordering a dish and then we share, so that we all get to sample more of the menu. At this point, I can’t remember what we had, but I can tell you that it was all damn good! I guess I should take food pics, but I usually don’t remember until after it’s all gone.

More wandering around after lunch, with a stop at the Pienza church.

Before leaving town, we walked back down to the outside wall for another look around and a few more shots, as we walked outside the walls to wait for Charlie to bring the car around. The service is great!

We drove back to La Colonica and relaxed before going out to dinner at Le Bindi, in Monte San Savino.

Our reservation was at 8:00, so we left here about 7:50. C&C have been to Le Bindi a few times before. This is another ‘family style’ meal with the table set for 20 people. You never know who your dining partners will be and, tonight, it turned out that we were the only English speaking people at the table. We ordered wine and waited for the food to arrive.

The owner of the restaurant, Paolo, was kept very busy bringing the chef’s (his wife) creations out – a total of 13 courses. Cheryl was smart to bring a pen and paper to write down the evening’s menu: the first 6 servings were the appetizers, followed by 2 pastas, then 4 main courses, finishing with 1 dessert.

The appetizers:
1. Chicken and rabbit liver pate with bread (I don’t like pates, but this was delicious)
2. Pizza on bread
3. Goat cheese and eggplant in a wrap
4. Deep fried pumpkin flowers and sage leaves
5. Cream puffs with peppers and a basil ‘foam’
6. Crustini – artichokes and ground thyroid of cow (traditional)

The pastas:
7. Cataloni – Acquerello rice and yellow tomato sauce with zucchini and ginger
8. Ravioli – ground beef with cooked stems and raw tops of porcini mushrooms

The main courses:
9. Guinea fowl with a carrot sauce
10. Pork loin with dried fennel and cooked white beens
11. Cow jowls (nose and cheeks) on green bread with beets
12. Roast beef with sweet potatoes

The dessert:
13. Bavarian cake with apricot and strawberry mousse

All of that was topped off with Grappa and/or Limoncello. Wine, of course, was served throughout the evening.

We left the restaurant shortly after 11:00 and were back home about 11:45. No ‘Northern Rescue’ tonight….straight to bed!

This entry was posted in Italy - May 2019.

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