La Montalla - a simple, charming and very clean B&B, thanks to Donatella, Giuseppe and Paola, who also makes wonderful cakes for breakfast!
This trip will be an easy one: we'll toot around the Val d'Orcia region to explore the variety of arts originating in the area: of course, the wines (the Barolas of Montalcino; the Rosso Nobiles of Montepulciano); cheese - Pienza is known for its pecorinos, but there's a cheese cooperative right up the road from La Montalla; and if there's pecorino, there's ricotta, which is the recooked whey of the heartier pecorino. We will visit a linen factory — Italian linens are gorgeous and surprisingly easy to care for, Etruscan ruins and museums, geothermal spas and baths, and explore small hilltowns offering watercolor artists, potters, and terra cotta museums. We are also hoping for a chamber music series during our journey — if not a series, then we'll scare up a concert or two for those willing.
Our B&B is just across the valley from this magnificent sight at La Foce, the estate renovated by the Origo family in the 1920's. I didn't mention this as one of the arts, but it is. Landscape architect Cecil Pinsent was hired to reorganize the grounds. Perhaps the most famous result of his work is an art installation: a cypress lined curved driveway up an adjacent hill, designed after a 14th century painting by Lorenzetti. Also part of this estate is the old fortress, Castelluccio, where concerts and art exhibits are now held.
Our week will be spent exploring these different places and arts. But if you'd rather just sit by the swimming pool, or if it's raining, watch for the inevitable rainbow that graces the valley, that's fine.