Month: June 2011

Sorano and Pitigliano – Tuscany, Italy

Sorano and Pitigliano are only about 8kms apart and are equally stunning and unique. My jaw completely dropped when I saw both of these towns from afar. It’s insane seeing these two cities rising right off of the cliffs. They’re  a part of these cliffs and just seem to blend out of them into the buildings. There are even windows in the side of the cliff (note to self- find a way to go under the city next time to check them out!). They seemed like something you would see in a movie about a far off land or something. I couldn’t believe two places so unique were so close together as well! We didn’t even get a chance to properly explore Sorano or Pitigliano except for a quick dinner in Sorano because we spent all of our time checking out different viewpoints and Etruscan pathways outside of these two towns. I’m definitely setting aside more time for Sorano and Pitigliano next time I’m in the area!

Follow the link to check out our other day trip while staying in Montiano, to picturesque town, Pereta. You can also take a stroll through all my Italy adventures here.

The weather there was so amazing for photos on our drive from Pitigliano to Sorano with the huge dark thundercloud in behind.

I couldn’t believe the timing of this. My Dad and I had good luck seeing this little car herd the sheep. Definitely modern sheep-herding at its best!

All the photos below were taken in Sorano, Italy.

Etruscan home.

Sorano is so stunning! Wow- I would looooove to photograph a wedding here someday.


Here’s a little Super 8 Video I took with my iPhone of Pitigliano:


Pereta, Italy

My first glimpse of Pereta was when I was 18. The family I was au-pairing for took me here to a friend’s pizzeria for dinner one night. I remember rounding a corner and seeing a cemetery just outside of Pereta and gasping at how beautiful it was. Each gravestone had a small light on it, making it look like it was filled with candles. It was really so beautiful. After eating pizza with the family, I went down to the graveyard by myself and walked around the eerily beautiful place, before I got scared (it was dark out and I was in a graveyard, ok) and started my way back to the pizzeria. Halfway back, the owner of the pizzeria, Franco, jumped out from behind a car in his full-white chef’s uniform and yelled “BOO!!” I jumped 5 feet off the ground and let out a good scream, to which Franco burst out laughing and looked pretty happy with himself. hahaha.

Because the pizzeria was just outside the walls of Pereta and it had been so dark, I had no idea it was so beautiful in the day time and didn’t return while I was au-pairing in the area. When I came back with my Dad, it was with the thought that I’d stay until it got dark to see the cemetery at night again since the mental picture of that had always stayed with me. So this time going to Pereta in the day and rounding that corner, I let out another gasp, not for the cemetery this time, but for the town itself. The first photo below is the view that greeted me. There was a heavy downpour when we first arrived and a beautiful heavy mist was circling in the valley below the town.  It looked like a beautiful little hamlet.

My Dad and I parked and walked toward the beautiful big archway entrance into the old part of Pereta. Some kids were playing soccer and my Dad jumped in and kicked the ball around for a minute. The kids got into it playing and laughing with him. That’s my Dad! : ) We were in heaven exploring this little town with so much character and equally interesting and nice inhabitants. We kept getting ahead of each other and calling the other to come look at a beautiful wall, doorway or street we had each found. We were so transfixed that we split up down different streets at one point but were too into what we were both seeing that we didn’t see each other again until an hour or two later. haha.

I came upon a cute little girl hula-hooping in bright pink slippers who asked me, “Cosa fai?” (What are you doing?). I told her I was taking photos and she grinned and asked to see. Then her friend came down the street and she happily ran over and grabbed her hand and skipped away. At that point, my Dad rounded a corner and we promptly had to show each other the spots the other had missed. By that point, our stomachs were growling so we went in search of the ristorante “Maria and Luciano,” we had heard was amazing. Unfortunately it was so amazing that it was all booked up for the night. haha- Next time I’ll make a reservation!

Despite our rumbling tummies and the other restaurants we tried being booked up due to the holiday weekend, we didn’t want to leave this little gem of a town. We lingered a little longer and I saw the cute little hula hoop girl  running around laughing with friends, handing out flyers for some festivities happening in Pereta that weekend. Walking back to the car, I saw someone walking their dog, the dog walking up on top of the low lying wall leaving the town, while the owner walked beside. The owner stepped away for a second and I snapped a picture. Due to our starving stomachs, we didn’t get to stay in Pereta till it was dark to see if the cemetery still lights up. When we drove by, the gates were closed and there was a sign that seemed to say you needed an appointment (that’s what I gathered anyways) so I wonder if it still lights up at night. I hope so. It’s always nice to leave a place wanting more though and I’ll definitely return to Pereta again.

Follow the link to check out our other day trip while staying in Montiano, to the stunning towns of Sorano and Pitigliano. You can also take a stroll through all my Italy adventures here.

Here’s a little Super 8 video I took on my iPhone of Pereta:

Montiano and Magliano in Grosseto, Italy

When I was a teen I was so love (and still am) with the movie Stealing Beauty in which Liv Tyler goes to Italy for a summer. It was that movie that inspired me to go au-pair in Italy when I was 18 for 6 months. I lucked out and got to stay on the beautiful property you see in front of the hilltop town of Montiano in Magliano in Toscana, in this photo below. It was a wonderful family that had hired me to teach their 2 older daughters English in the afternoon and look after their adorable baby in the morning. The family was just opening up a brand new Agriturismo which is like a B&B/apartments to rent in Italian countryside that has a focus on some sort of agriculture on the property. The family I stayed with made organic olive oil.  The property had the family’s home, a barn, a neat old little building that doubled as a chicken coop and a home for their male sheep part of the year, as well as the agriculturist and a small little building that contained a nice big bedroom and bathroom, where I stayed for most of my time there. It was like something out of a movie. Everyday when I woke up, I could see sheep grazing directly outside my window and hear beautiful church bells ringing in the little hilltop town of Montiano only one or two kilometers away. It was really a magical 6 months for me that I have returned to many times in my memories.

My sister was able to come and visit me for a month in the summer which was so great and since then, I have always wanted to take my parents there. The family I stayed with ended up moving a year later and I had been waiting for someone else to open the agriturismo. Luckily, I did a google search for Fontelisa (the name of the home/property) a few months before my trip and lo and behold, after years of waiting, someone had reopened Agriturismo Fontelisa! I was so excited and my Dad jumped on board to stay there for a few nights. So from Venice, we hopped on a train to Pisa where we rented a car and drove to Agriturismo Fontelisa in the beautiful Maremma region of Tuscany. We found Fontelisa in wonderful hands with the new owner, Gennaro.

It was so wonderful to go back and walk down memory lane and show my dad all my old haunts. We especially loved looking around the cute little hilltop town of Montiano that was so close by with all its charming and friendly locals. Within hours we felt like we knew half the town and had made some new friends as everyone greets you and is happy to stop and have a conversation. I was able to practice my Italian, especially with all the translating I did for my Dad who often seemed to forget I wasn’t fluent. haha. It was great though as it pushed me to speak Italian more and, although I’m sure it was very broken, I was able to converse more than I thought I could in my favourite language to learn. : ) We would be having a conversation with one person, when someone above would open their window and join in.

In Montiano, we met a woman from Morocco, a woman from Egypt and a girl my age from Spain, living in Montiano. I was surprised they all knew about the town seeing as I never once saw a fellow English speaking traveler in the town while we were there. Plus, Montiano (or the one I’m talking about anyways) is hard to even find on an Italian map (or even google maps for that matter). haha.

Montiano is so small, it doesn’t take long at all to walk all of the small streets in the old part of town on the top. But we were happy to linger and take our time. There are beautiful views looking out from the top of the town and we also enjoyed getting lunch to go from my favourite bakery (the only bakery in Montiano) that I’ve ever eaten at in Italy. We returned there quite a few more times for slices of margherita pizza and more, during our stay at Fontelisa. ; )

We saw some gorgeous places on our day trips from Fontelisa which I’ll be sharing over the next few blog posts. This one is for the two nearest towns to Agriturismo Fontelisa, which are Montiano and Magliano. My Dad and I hope to go back to this area again someday and bring my mom and sister with us! I saw more than ever this trip how much I had lucked out when I got that job au-pairing in this particular spot back in 2004.

Follow the links to check out our day trips to Pereta, Sorano and Pitigliano, while staying in Montiano.

The photos below were taken in Magliano in Toscana.

This sunset shot was taken from the top of Montiano.