Posting from The Farm Files ~ Tuscany, Part Two

Emily of The Farm Files is guest posting again today continuing her wandering through Tuscany...sit back, relax and get comfortable because you will want to spend some time with this post. It is breathtaking!
All the photos were taken by Emily - not only can she paint a picture with her words, she is pretty awesome with a camera too!!
Ciao Bella!
I am thrilled to be here sharing my adventures involving a Tuscan farmhouse.
Yesterday, I shared details of La Bandita itself.
The property itself is amazing, and a person could definitely have a fulfilling vacation without ever stepping foot off the premises.
All Photos via Emily of The Farm Files
However, we chose to spend a few days touring the area.
We rented a car for this leg of the trip.
We started our Italian vacation in Venice and ended on the Amalfi Coast. When deciding on places to visit in between, we agreed that we would definitely like to include small towns in our itinerary.
I'm so glad we did.
We enjoyed several meals where we were the only non-Italian diners.
We sipped Brunello alongside the winemakers who actually made it.
We swapped popular nightlife for quiet dinners and cozy nights in... a different kind of authenticity.
As I mentioned in the earlier post, the manager at La Bandita created a personalized map each day.
Visiting various hill towns was great fun.
Many of them are as they have been for centuries.
Medieval fortresses atop hills.
No cars allowed inside the village gates.
Some where bustling with visitors and commerce, while others were practically deserted.
The Val d'Orcia is unbelievably gorgeous open countryside.
There is virtually no unsightly commerce to spoil the scene.
{from my understanding that can be the case in other parts of Tuscany}
Zipping around the countryside on your own schedule is certainly its own form of entertainment.
However, I found myself charmed by village life.
Some of our favorite spots were:
{beautiful, medieval and Renaissance village, gorgeous architecture,
one of the Twilight movies was filmed here}
Montepulciano, perched atop a hill, is actually visible from La Bandita, on the left of this photo.
San Biagio
{A church located right outside of Montepulciano}
The architecture {both inside and out} is breathtaking and worth a visit.
A 14th century fresco:

We visited this town for dinner.
So I only saw it in the dark.
We ate dinner at a little restaurant tucked right inside the village gate.
Be sure to have a meal at Osteria La Porta if you find yourself in Monticchiello.
Here, I enjoyed a plate of fresh ravioli with spinach and local truffles.
I still dream about it.
After dinner, we went for a walk through the narrow, hilly, cobble stoned streets.
And didn't see another soul.
It was like being on a movie set.
And impossibly romantic.
Bagno Vignoni
{A town built around ancient Roman baths}
Italians have traveled here to take the waters for centuries.
The town square is actually a pool of water.
The bubbles created by the hot water are visible on the surface.
There are modern spas, if you like to be pampered while travelling.
The old steps into the baths:
Sant'Angelo in Colle
{A typical medieval village on a hill}
I had one of my favorite meals in Italy at Il Leccio, located right on the central piazza.
Abbey of Sant'Antimo
{12th century Abbey}
This beauty of this place is hard to describe.
It is one of the few places in the world where monks worship using the Gregorian Chant.

Montalcino and Pienza
Pienza is the "ideal" city of the Renaissance.
These two towns are important to the history, and current economy, of the area.
They are certainly worth a visit, but I wanted to share a few of the lesser known places.

I hope that you are able to visit this corner of the world someday.
See the walled villages, the castles, the vineyards, the open farmland, the churches...
Sip local wines, eat olives from nearby groves, snack on local porcini cheese...
Watch the sun fade over the hillside.
And, if you've already visited, I hope you are able to return.

Thank you, Emily, for sharing Bella Toscana with us...I am quite sure anyone reading this is ready to book the next flight to Italy!

We can't wait for you to come back another time and tell us all about the rest of your travels! In the meantime, go check out The Farm Files and enjoy more of Emily's daily adventures!