Beautiful hike in Pienza + Pizza
What better way to spend a day in the Val d'Orcia than to go for a hike in that area! This hike takes about 2.5 hours (depending on your speed) and is located in a territory declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site - both Pienza the town and the valley around it (Val d'Orcia). This means that it is untouched and no one can build in this area unless they are restoring an already existing structure. The hike starts in Pienza and goes to one of the most photographed places in Tuscany called the Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta.
The small chapel, framed by two rows of cypress trees was built in the spot where legend says the Virgin Mary appeared to a shepherdess. In 1533, a statue of the Virgin Mary by Andrea della Robbia was installed in the church and is conserved there still today.
Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta
What to expect:
The hike is quite hilly so good walking shoes is a must (plus water). It has gorgeous vistas and sight-lines which means you won't get much cover from the sun but nonetheless, its a fun walk. You start in Pienza, walk down into the valley and back up to the Chapel, then down again into the valley and finish by heading back up into Pienza. It is a gravel trail and once you find the start, you should be good to go as there are signs along the way. Below is map to help you get on the right trail.
When to start the hike and most importantly, LUNCH!
We love hitting this hike around 10am so by the time you are back up in Pienza, its lunch time. There is a great Neapolitan pizza place at the start/end of the hike that is perfect nourishment for the sweaty workout. There are a ton of restaurant recommendations inside the walls of the town but this pizza place is outside the walls on the main drag that will take you into town (SP146). It is also right by the end/start of the hike. Like most places in small town Italy, it doesnt have much of an online presence but trust me, you want to find this place. If you google "Snoopy Bar" or "Il Giardino", its right there and has an outdoor patio in the front with a huge menu of pizzas. Its the wood fired oven, Neapolitan bubbly outside rim of a crust with a thin interior kind of pizza. The toppings are also very different from what you would normally see at other pizzerias.
More maps to get you started:
The start of the hike can be a little tricky to find. Below are more details.