Day 345: Val d'OrciaJanuary 25, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 6 °C
For whatever reason, the valley where Pienza is located is a separate world heritage site. It slightly boggles my mind that they're two different entries, since they're inscribed for fairly similar reasons. I think because it's Italy they can get away with it (and they're very invested in keeping their "most world heritage sites" title away from China).
Anyway, politics aside, we spent most of today driving around the valley of Orcia which is a separate WHS from Pienza, even though Pienza is wholly within the valley WHS area. We visited several of the towns: Montepulciano, Montalcino, San Quirico d'Orcia and others. Also spent about 20 minutes hiking out into the fields to see a beautiful little isolated church that's apparently a very famous spot in Tuscany.
More lovely weather today, 15 degrees and bright sunshine. Although the mornings are chilly, it really feels like we've broken the back of winter proper, and that things will only be getting warmer from now on. Finally! Especially nice since we didn't get much of a summer either, spending it as we did in the UK and Ireland.
Happy to report that the little towns are all lovely, very quiet and relaxed at this time of year. We ended up eating lunch at a locals place outside one of the towns since the prices were comically lower. The only restaurants open usually do a set menu around 15 euros each for a main, side and drink, whereas the pizza-by-the-slice place all the locals eat charges 1.50 euro for a huge piece. So we had a few of those and enjoyed the shouting hand-waving cigarette-wreathed conversations of the locals. I'm hardly the first to remark on it, but you genuinely have no idea if they're talking about getting a haircut later, raging about their football team, or threatening to fight each other.
Last spot for the day was the most unusual, a spot known as the white whale. It's fairly hidden and not publicised, and the locals do their best to keep it that way since once it makes the Instagram circuit it'll get ruined. Anyway, it's a long watercourse down a small valley where the waters are full of calcium, I guess? Regardless, it constantly forms large white crystal formations, and some of these are enormous - 10-20 metres high for the largest, and it's vaguely reminiscent of a whale, hence the name. A few people swimming in the warm water, but we declined.
Back to our farmhouse where we cooked local pasta for dinner, ready to head off in the morning.Read more