As I find that my blog can languish between posts, it is encouraging to find a like minded group, #DolceVitaBloggers, that send prompts of Italian topics to write about on a monthly basis. I am not opposed to the occasional ‘poke’ or ‘prod’ encouraging me to write something. Especially in light of the after holiday doldrums that often descend and cover you like a fog at the beginning of the new year.
The prompt this month is your favorite city in Italy. But this is such a tall order and the cities that come to mind are the larger ones that so much has already been written about. Plus, as a traveller, I much prefer to take a day trip, see one or two points of cultural interest, enjoy a leisurely pranzo and then return to Casa Le Crete for un bel pisolino (a nice nap).
San Biagio is located at the foot of the hill of Montepulciano in the bottom of a driveway lined with cypress trees. The church was built by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder between 1518 and 1545 and is a masterpiece of the sixteenth century.
The origin of the church of San Biagio is linked to a miraculous event which took place on April 23, 1518, when two women and a shepherd, passing in front of a fresco depicting the Madonna and Child in her lap and St. Francis saw that the eyes of the Virgin moved like if she was alive.
The church of the Madonna di San Biagio, has a Greek cross plan with a central dome and a semicircular apse. A Renaissance masterpiece, the church is flanked by two towers made of travertine. The bell towers are situated next to the church in the spaces of the arms of the cross.
In front of the Canonica is a well also designed by Antonio de Sangallo.
San Biagio was built to house the image of the Madonna del Buon Viaggio (Madonna of the Good Voyage) which is the Patron Saint of travelers in Italy. Reason enough to visit if you are traveling in Italy!
It is notable, in true Italian form, that good food and wine can be secured a stone’s thow from this architectural treasure.
After viewing Tempio San Biagio we drove the short distance into the town of Pienza.
This wonderfully picturesque town is the home of ‘pecorino’ cheese which adds a distinct aroma to the town. Unique shops and attractive restaurants line the small streets.
We took pranzo at La Terrazza del Chiostro (The Terrace of the Cloisters). Before you even access the beautiful terrace with a view of the Val d’Orcia and its enchanting scenery you pass through the Renaissance courtyard where the surrounding walls are hung with paintings by local artists. The restaurant is a visual as well as culinary delight.
After pranzo – you guessed it – the short drive home for that well deserved rest.