We took our time driving from Le Grazie to our next destination, Podere Montepozzo, in northern Lazio and stopped to explore Pienza. Established as the medieval village of Corsignano, Pope Pius II renamed and redesigned the place of his birth in the late 15th century. He enlisted the help of architect, Bernardo Rossellino, to create the ideal Renaissance town and it has remained unchanged since that time. We parked the car and made our way to the centre of town,
the colours of spring brightened the pavements.
On the lookout for somewhere to lunch,
we found ourselves at the edge of the village
stunned by the breathtaking vista across the Val d’Orcia to Mount Amiata beyond.
Returning to the main square, we couldn’t resist a peek inside the walls of Relais Chiostro di Pienza, an exquisite hotel on the site of a 13th century Franciscan convent. The beautiful ancient cloister
led to the former garden of the friars and the perfect venue for lunch, La Terrazza del Chiostro.
With storm clouds gathering on the horizon, we risked outdoor dining.
The service was impeccable, from the leather bound menu to the handbag holder (hastily produced when I placed my bag on the floor), the unique cutlery
and that spectacular view.
The meals were delicious, starting with a colourful palate cleanser and a selection of breads.
The pigeon was a work of art with breast, leg and a wing lollipop coated in hazelnut & mushroom powder and the local pork fillet with wild fennel carbonara sauce and seasonal vegetables was mouthwatering.
We finished our meal just in time before the heavens opened and wandered through the opulent interior of the hotel
before braving the weather the short distance to Pienza Cathedral. Built in 1459 on the ruins of an ancient Romanesque church, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
The gothic interior is quite spectacular
with elaborate altars
and intricately designed labyrinthine ceilings.
The baptismal font seemed simple in comparison.
I think someone was contemplating a quick confession before we left.
Returning to the car, we found divine inspiration to remind us of our objective.