Wednesday, May 14, 2014

PIENZA, ASSISI and TORGIANO

Main square and Duomo in Pienza 


Balcony circling Pienza




Pienza shop
Our room in Pienza 
1459, it was the dream of Pope Pius II to turn his birthplace into the perfect Renaissance city, so we have him to thank for the beautiful medieval town of Pienza. Quaint shops and restaurants line the pedestrian only streets. Pienza overlooks the scenic Val D’Orcia and is also famous for pecorino cheese.     


We enjoyed another Luxury Link Hotel here, one that had been converted from a convent.  Our room included the convent’s altar. 

St. Francis
Present day follower of St. Francis


Another beautiful but much bigger medieval town is Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis, one of the best known and most beloved of all Catholic saints.  He is the patron saint of animals and the environment, and the inspiration for the name of the present pope.  People of all faiths revere The Prayer of St. Francis: 

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
Medieval castle overlooking Assisi

Basilica of St. Francesco




Near Perugia is the little town of Torgiano.  We would not have happened upon it if not been for another good Luxury Link offer. Our hotel, the 5 star Le Tre Vaselle, and most of the wineries in the area are owned by the Lungarotti family, the closest thing Umbria has to a ruling family nowadays. The town is famous for olive oil and wine and our stay included visits to the respective museums, the wine museum being the most famous in all of Europe. The medieval wine press, olive press and book binding machine were engineering marvels in their day.