Our leader extraordinaire asked if we minded altering the plan (his master plan, mind you) a bit to include a side trip to the abbey of Sant'Antimo near Montalcino before heading for Pienza. He wanted to hear the chanting so we had to be there on time or miss it entirely. Guess what we said. No, we didn't mind. Why? When you are with a person who has spent a year planning this trip for us (two couples), when the itinerary is incredible already, and when the leader hasn't been wrong in any particular . . . well, who would argue with him?
What I had expected was the landscape on our way there. For ages I have seen photographs and paintings of the Tuscan countryside - the cypress trees, the isolated buildings, olive trees, hill, la, la, la. It didn't move me at all; I didn't believe it. For me, it was Wizard of Oz landscape. Guess whose mind was radically altered. And here are the photos which I hope you will believe:
If the grass were perfect, I bet you wouldn't have believed the one above, so how about the next one? Okay, you believe it because there aren't so many cypress trees, right?
And then there was the valley and Sant'Antimo. One word - WOW!
Here is a close up. This Abbey was begun in the eleventh century and after further centuries of building this is it. Romanesque in style and set in the perfect valley, this is definitely a jewel.
Interior shots follow:
Notice Saint Christopher is still in evidence. Imagine if they had to remove this fresco!
Love the stone and the light beams.
Below is a view of the Abbey's olive trees. Aren't all these greens wonderful?
Looking up at Montalcino from the Abbey.
Final views -
Then on our way to Pienza, we found one of the most photographed buildings in Tuscany so naturally we had to stop so we could take our own pictures (because there simply aren't enough out there!). At the time I hoped that I was getting unique shots, but really, Noel? Like that is even possible?
And this is simply to show how varied the landscape of Tuscany can be.
It was quite a day; thanks to RH, our fearless leader!