Looking over the valley

Val d’Orcia vista

One more look from Pienza!  I just couldn’t resist to process one of the images today (between work assignments) and share this one with you.

Mid-way between Montalcino and Montepulciano, Pienza has a marvelous view of Val d’Orcia.

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Valley View

Sitting well above the valley floor, Pienza presents some amazing vistas, such as this one.

A Walk through Pienza – pt. 2

More alleys, and food!

I may have pulled up lame during the relay race at work today due to tearing my hamstring, but there will be more images from Italy!  Reduced mobility will keep me in the house more and with less to distract me, such as those great long runs, my time will be spent on photo editing and music!

Both will be the better of it, I hope.

Pecorino de Pienza

Pienza is also the city of cacio, which means cheese! The Pecorino of Pienza is a tasty cheese made from sheep’s milk, renowned worldwide and delicious, which can go from a delicate flavor to a decisive one based on how aged it is.

The town streets are full of small charming shops selling a large quantity of various types of pecorino, from fresh to aged pecorico, that you can taste together with a number of other typical local products, such as fine wines, spices, pici (handmade pasta) and so on. We recommend stopping and tasting!  Best of both worlds is mixing the pici with the cheese in the famous dish: pici con cacio e pepe.

Cheese shops are on just about every street and alley, and can be tasted in the great restaurants.  Our choice of restaurant was La Buca di Enea on Via della Buca; this small restaurant was phenomenal with excellent food (great cheese), a friendly proprietor, who was nice enough to offer us a free digestif at the end of our meal.

Highlights of Italy

It’s just a beginning

As there still are hundreds of photos to process, I thought I’d give you a look back across the first couple of weeks’ batch with some of my favorites among them.

They are definitely beginning to get their own flavor…

Which of these are among your favorites thus far?

A Walk through Pienza – pt. 1

A renaissance experiment

In the continuing quest to edit my photographs from our trip to Italy, I decided to let my interests in the image follow a meandering path that had me stopping by the town of Pienza this past weekend.  As I got about half of my images edited, I thought I’d share them today in a first installment.

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History

Before the village was renamed to Pienza its name was Corsignano. It is first mentioned in documents from the 9th century. Around 1300 parts of the village became property of the Piccolomini family. after Enghelberto d’Ugo Piccolomini had been enfeoffed with the fief of Montertari in Val d’Orcia by the emperor Frederick II in 1220. In the 13th century Franciscans settled down in Corsignano.

1405 Corsignano was the birthplace of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (Italian: Enea Silvio Piccolomini), a Renaissance humanist born into an exiled Sienese family, who later became Pope Pius II. Once he became Pope, Piccolomini had the entire village rebuilt as an ideal Renaissance town and renamed it after himself to Pienza. Intended as a retreat from Rome, it represents the first application of humanist urban planning concepts, creating an impetus for planning that was adopted in other Italian towns and cities and eventually spread to other European centers.

The rebuilding was done by Florentine architect Bernardo Gambarelli (known as Bernardo Rossellino) who may have worked with the humanist and architect Leon Battista Alberti, though there are no documents to prove it for sure. Alberti was in the employ of the Papal Curia at the time and served as an advisor to Pius. Construction started about 1459. Pope Pius II consecrated the Duomo on August 29, 1462, during his long summer visit. He included a detailed description of the structures in his Commentaries, written during the last two years of his life.

A Walk Across the Forum – pt. 1

The ages open up

One of the wonderful places that we visited in Italy were the Palatine Hill and Forum in Rome.  Getting away from the overcrowded Colosseum, it was just amazing to take in the atmosphere and history that is represented by the Forum, where you can truly see the centuries and their most significant events during the days of the Roman republic and empire.

Here’s the first installment of Forum images.

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I hope you enjoy them!

Roman Theater in Volterra

Surprising finds in Volterra

Yesterday, I shared with you a view of the wonderful Tuscan hill town of Volterra, looking over the roofs toward the valley.  Another wonder from this city is the Roman theater that sits just outside the old town walls.

This theater was not discovered until the 1950s, when local economist Enrico Fiumi gained permission to perform a test dig near the soccer field, where he theorized the existence of a Roman theater.  With the help of patients of the local psychiatric hospital that he directed, he excavated a small section to find fragments of columns and a young head of Augustus

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Roman theater in Volterra

It took another 10 years to gain permission for the rest of the excavation, which resulted in a beautiful example of a theater, including the scaenae frons, which is the backwall behind what would have been a wooden stage.

This is a great location to visit, and it should be noted that the ticket also gives you admission to the Etruscan excavation on the other side of town (a 5-10 minute walk).

Technical Details

This image series was captured with my Fujifilm X-T1 using a Fujifilm XF18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 LM OIS WR lens.  Exposure settings for the series of images were at 1/150-1/600 second, f/9 at 800 ISO.  They were processed using Photomatix Pro.

Looking over Volterra

Beautiful vistas and rich history

Volterra is a walled mountaintop town in the Tuscany region of Italy of which its history dates to before the 7th century BC and has substantial structures from the Etruscan, Roman, and Medieval periods.

Volterra, known to the ancient Etruscans as Velathri or Vlathri and to the Romans as Volaterrae, is a town and comune in the Tuscany region of Italy. The town was a Bronze Age settlement of the Villanovan culture, and an important Etruscan center (Velàthre, Velathri or Felathri in Etruscan, Volaterrae in Latin language), one of the “twelve cities” of the Etruscan League.

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Looking over Volterra

The site is believed to have been continuously inhabited as a city since at least the end of the 8th century BC. It became a municipium allied to Rome at the end of the 3rd century BC. The city was a bishop’s residence in the 5th century, and its episcopal power was affirmed during the 12th century. With the decline of the episcopate, Volterra became a place of interest of the Florentines, whose forces conquered Volterra. Florentine rule was not always popular, and opposition occasionally broke into rebellion. These rebellions were put down by Florence.

When the Florentine Republic fell in 1530, Volterra came under the control of the Medici family and later followed the history of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

In recent history, Volterra was the residence of the Volturi, a coven of rich, regal, powerful ancient vampires, who essentially act as the rulers of the world’s vampire population; of course, this was fiction, as part of Stephwnie Meyer’s Twilight series.

Technical Details

This image series was captured with my Fujifilm X-T1 using a Fujifilm XF18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 LM OIS WR lens.  Exposure settings for the series of images were at 1/350-1/1500 second, f/9 at 1000 ISO.  They were processed using Photomatix Pro.