Thursday, March 8, 2012

Driving Punto Blanco through Val d'Orcia

03/03, Saturday
The Val d'Orcia is an area within an hours drive of Sanfatucchio. We had another wonderful journey through the Val d'Orcia, named after the river that runs through the area. This entire area is a UNESCO heritage site.

Our car is a Fiat, white Punto model. We can't decide on an appropriate name for it...Punto or Bosso Bianco (white whale, a term used in V d'O to describe the white calcified rock).

Bagno di Vignoni, an ancient Thermal bath dating to Etruscan times, beckons first. Sergio's friend Alice runs le Bottega di Cacio (cheese) here where we pick up some marinated veggies and a sandwich for lunch along the way.

B d V's history includes numerous water mills, using the warm spring waters which run year round unlike some rivers which dry up in summer.

A very nice small town with a huge ancient bath right in the center, which is beautiful, but just for looking now. There are several modern spas in town that are very upscale. Maybe Laura R could settle here to become a massage therapist! What a lifestyle she would have, and probably no lack of visitors from Portland, Chicago, Atlanta, Minneapolis, and where else?

The countryside is simply a sight to behold and the area where the mills were located overlooked the entire valley. Again the Etruscans were very wise in actually using the landscape and building their mills right in the cliffs. They were carved into the earth and the wheels turned by the powerful stream of water way back in the 12th century.

The hills look like rolling soft velvet and while driving, winding roads just take you from one fantastic view to the next. It reminds us of the hills in VT compared to the ragged peaks in NH. The foliage is different here than in the states.

There are many tall narrow cypress trees in precision lines along roads. This is a traditional planting pattern. It adds to the overall beauty and serenity of this overlooked area. While enjoying the rolling countryside we tour several other hill towns including Castigione D' Orcia where you could see the forests of Monte Amiata. Then on to Radicofani which has the most impressive fortresses in Tuscany. We climbed to the top and toured the entire fortress that was built before 1000. And it certainly was built to last !

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