We had the privilege of celebrating Stefania’s birthday with her on June 15 and she was our guide and driver for visits to Siena (home-base), Montepulciano, Montereggioni, Monteciano, Pienza and the Val d’ Orcia. All but Montereggioni is a UNESCO world heritage site, including the countryside (Val d’Orcia).
Since this is not a travel-log, I’ll give some of my insights. We spent the majority of our time in Siena and had a 3-day site pass. Siena, I believe has state-of-the-art tourist education. In the Maria della Scalla, they married art history, technology, anthropology, adult education and architecture to create a truly informative experience. Just one example is how they illustrated the Fountain in the Campo in Siena; it’s formation, deterioration, and restoration over the years. Technology was used to synchronize the video and audio that cued to your physical position. A visual projection on the wall gave a synopsis and then the viewer was perfectly positioned to walk through the various permutations of the statues that were replaced over the years. It really was incredible.
Montepulciano still wins my 5-star rating for the wine and the city although each of the cities was has it’s own character. Penza touts it’s pecorino cheese but it’s really a Pope Pius II creation and culture.
Monteriggioni has the best magic especially in the evening sunlight.
We returned to Toscolana on June 21 and have had time to regroup before heading out for Burnley in the North of England today and then heading to the Orkney Islands on July 4th.
I have posted pictures of our journey to date at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/141872630@N06/