Italy-Pienza for Lunch and Pecorino Cheese
Another road trip into Tuscany to explore the countryside and various towns. Pienza is first on the list. It is known for the significant renaissance makeover at the direction of Pope Pius II as this was his birthplace. Driving through the countryside of rolling hills we turn a corner to see Pienza up on the hill. A town without the classic fortress look. It is here we see our first significant Duomo and embrace the natural beauty of town and nature in harmony that is so prevalent in the Tuscan countryside. This was a big photography day and an assortment of those photos and our trek can can be seen here.
Upon entering the town it is not long before a cheese shop swarms our senses of sight and smell. Pienza, I later found out, is very famous for its pecorino cheese (sheep cheese). We must have missed the sheep coming in. The methods of aging and varieties are extensive. Looking through the shop we see rounds that have been aged in ashes, another in walnut leaves and a red one rubbed in tomato paste. We sampled the cheese and decided that we would have to get some on our way out. It was soft, and a fairly immature cheese compared to say a cheddar.
Italian cured meats were another item that was displayed in many of the shops. Some were dedicated to cheese alone but many carried both. It has always been a mystery to me how one knows which meats are good when they’re just hanging in a shop or at home in a grocery store. I have had some great meats and then some that I would not feed my dog. Of course, I hear the Tuscan beef is excellent.
After shooting way too many photos we decided it was time to catch lunch and perhaps visit another town. First we purchased some cheese and searched for a place to eat. We chose a small sandwich shop where we could sit outside and enjoy watching fellow tourists walk by. They also had gelato. We decided to share a sandwich on foccacia bread that Elaine really enjoyed and asked why I had not yet baked this bread. The sandwich was great, yet simple in flavor and substance.
It was now time to try some gelato, but it was not to be so. Storm clouds swept in quickly and it was a mad dash to the car to avoid a drenching. I leave you with a picture of the Tuscan countryside from Pienza before the weather hit.