We are nicely parked up in a mix-use Car park on the outskirts of Siena after a rather eventful trip through Southern Tuscany. As always with us nothing quite worked out to plan but with a little bit of nous and a lot of Euro’s we managed to get from Trasimeno to Siena.
The Journey 29/03 & 30/03/2016
With the weather being forecast rainy for the day we left our lakeside retreat and headed south to the main town of Castiglione and into the laundrette for a wash. And just over two hours later we were on the road and heading for the heart of Tuscany. Our first stop was the hilltop town of Montepulciano where we were met with a heavy downpour and a minimum car parking fee of €5. Coupled with a sinew-stretching hike uphill to the town, and armed with the knowledge of visiting many more hilltop Tuscan towns in the near future we got back in the van and left.
We now drove south along some very poor quality roads, even by Italian standards, towards our overnight stop at Radicofani. The light was too bad to take any photographs and so you will have to believe when we say it was a splendid, if somewhat bumpy drive.
With a hatful of places to visit and wine to be tasted, and spat out, we set off to sample the favourite holiday destination for anyone with a few quid and who lives south of an imaginary line between The Wash and The Exe; Tuscany. And right on cue the sun put his little hat on and made everything rosy.
Our first stop was the Thermal Pools at the aptly named; Bagni San Fillipo. A place described as a forest idyll in which to soak your body for free in the pine-clad hills. Seems too good to be true? Well you would be correct on many counts. Yes there are Hot Thermal Springs you can soak yourself in, they are in a forest glen and they are free. The only drawback is that to use them involves the following; You will be getting into some poorly maintained concrete pools that have not been cleaned since Buddy Holly was popular, which in my book was never, you will share your relaxing dip with some speedo wearing, shaven-headed, moustachioed men named Fritz and Wolfgang who have a penchant for spooning up to each other and lastly your healthy dip would allow you to bathe with a pack of stray dogs.
It is not often I advocate for the paying of attractions but I believe here it is a must. We took a photo and left. Not for us.
Back on the road we next stopped at the Spa at Bagno Vignoni for another look at Italian health resorts. This one consists of a very upmarket hotel and a small village where the central square is a pond filled with warm therapeutic waters. 5 minutes later we were off.
We were now in the Orcia Valley heading for the town of Pienza with its commanding views over the whole of Southern Tuscany. This area is how most people view Tuscany, with terracotta roofed farmhouses sat upon isolated hills surrounded by cypress trees. Yes these places do exist, but they are best viewed through a telephoto lens.
Tuscany in Spring
View from Pienza
Pienza is another of the ever increasing UNESCO World heritage sites that adorn the Italian landscape. It is certainly pretty and it is certainly touristy with most shops being given over to squeeze every last cent from the visitors. However, you will find most things on offer are of a high standard and consequently out of our price range. But the place is motorhome friendly and you can park-up and have a wander around the town all for the princely sum of €1.
Pienza Main Sq
Pienza Main Street
Street of Love
Piazza di Spagna
The road down from Pienza to San Quirico d’Orcio is probably one of the most photographed places in Italy and adorns many a Home Counties kitchen wall and here are a couple of our efforts.
Our final stop on our tour of this part of Tuscany was the medieval hill town of Montalcino, known throughout the world for its coveted wine, Brunello. This is where is where I was to get to taste one of the world’s finest wines, and then spit it out. I could not wait.
But waiting I still am. On the way down the hill from Pienza our little orange warning light came on telling us our DPF filter was full of soot and we needed to get it cleaned. The previous time we saw this little flasher we ignored it for a couple of days before we ended up being towed off a cliff in Spain. So this time we headed straight for the nearest FIAT garage and got the thing cleaned. I do like the way in Europe you can drive into a garage with a problem and you can get a mechanic to look at your vehicle and in our experience try to fix it straight away. Two hours later and €200 lighter we had a fixed truck and made our way to Siena. Montalcino, you owe me a drink.
Our Homie getting fixed
All our Love