When people talk of visiting Italy, they mention Venice, Rome, Milan, Florence, Naples. Yes, these are all gems in the tiara of Italy, as I have written before. And, there are those hidden sparkles - places that you hear about when you talk to a local, or are adventurous enough to rent a car and just drive or perhaps, make a map of the wine regions and go about discovering them and their neighbors. Perhaps, the last is the easiest way to find hidden spots. After all, there is wine in abundance across the country and some of the biggest names are not in any of those fot-touristed swaths.
Val d’Orcia - Well, it is in Tuscany but it isn’t a district you hear about a lot compared to say Siena or, well, Florence :). And yet, it is stunning as these photos attest. You would find it if you embarked on the scent of Montepulciano, Brunello do Montalcino or Rosso di Montalcino. Its the agrarian belt of the region with rolling hills like the rest of Tuscany but also very productive ones that grow primarily grains, legumes and beans. And, yes wine too! Val d’Orcian wines are not well-known outside the region but they are just as spectacular as the neighbors’!
I visited the region on Giulia’s recommendation and stayed in the agriturismo she suggested as well. Agriturismo il Rigo. I was told that since farming is very difficult in the arid landscape, many families supplement or have converted the farm house into a bed and breakfast; often offering a house dinner from local produce. I have to say, staying at Agriturismo il Rigo was an enchantment. The location, the views, oh the food!!! I discovered the val d’orcian wines at dinner here and owners kindly arranged a visit to the winery of Capitoni; the wines I loved.
One of the days, I woke up early to catch the sunrise and walk the countryside. It was one of the best decisions I have made in my life! No kidding. The views, the quiet, the joy of walking through vast expanses of post-Summer lands was a lush experience of emotions, primarily simple happiness! And, as the hours clocked by, simply lying in the hammock, reading a book as the sun set was divine.
I want to go back. I want to relive that magic.
Above and below are the pictures of the Madonna di Vitaleta Chapel. Did you know it is one of the most photographed churches in Italy? This is where I walked to that morning with the sun. Apparently, it is featured in Gladiator as the ‘home’ Russell Crowe returns to….