Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Not just a once in a lifetime trip...

The more one visits Italy - the more one wants to visit Italy. I hear this so often.

Landing in Pisa was a breeze - nonstop from JFK on Delta. The van rental was a breeze as well once I was shown the way to find your car is by just pushing the remote to see which one lights up - So why did they bother to write D21 on my contract? Who needs rows and numbered spaces?

Drove the back roads to Pienza from Pisa - the secondary road to the freeway consists of many one lane bridges and railroad crossings. At one such crossing where we waited for the train to pass - the driver in front got out of his car and walked over to the Tabacchi down the street - bought a pack of cigarettes - returned to his car - and promptly after his return, along came the train - and we all continued on - Ahhh, the rhythm of Italy.

Arrived into Pienza on an absolutely beautiful day with big blue skies, and grand green fields dotted with bright red poppies. Pienza is one of my favorite towns - small enough to stay quaint and large enough to have access to all one’s needs. Locals gather in the park - discussing vibrantly their world's events. There are fabulous restaurants serving the local cheeses - arguably the best cheese in the world - fresh pecorino made from goat's milk. The aroma permeates the air of this small town. The evening meal consisted of handmade ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta served with a truffle mushroom sauce. The ultimate comfort food.

When I come to Pienza, I stay at the Albergo Rutiliano - a small 10 room B and B within walking distance to the town - with all the modern conveniences and always an especially warm and pleasant reception thanks to Silvia!

I woke the next morning to the ever present church bells bidding the day buongiorno. This day I visited the magnificent estate of La Foce - a 10,000 acre family owned olive oil producing estate which also offers fantastic lodging options and the perfect place for a memorable wedding with its striking gardens and stately cypress trees guarding the estate.

After my tour at La Foce, I headed over to the Abbey of Sant' Antimo - an 11th century place of worship where the brothers sing out Gregorian Chants prior to every mass - This great structure is filled with the vibrations of their prayers seven times per day – You could tell easily who were the visitors and who were the residents by who knew exactly when to stand and when to sit during the prayer – I found it is as simple as following the brother’s actions. And the brother’s chants fill and follow you after you go - a spiritual experience no matter your beliefs. Ciao for now.

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