I thought Bagno Vignoni was on flat land, but to get there we had to drive up winding switchback roads with breathtaking views of the Val d'Orcia far below. There were amazing views from our car park just at the edge of the Bagno Vignoni hamlet. So many hilltowns! (Will we actually get tired of this the way I got tired of castle after castle years ago in the Loire valley in France?)
There is so much to see here that I fear we won't have enough time... which leaves a question in my mind about where to go next. By design, our Voyage is part planned, part free-form (follow our noses). There is the nearby town of San Quirico d'Orcia with a castle keep on its Rocca (rocky prominence); Nearby Montalcino offers wine tasting with its famous Brunello; you can meditate with the Greogorian chants at the Sant'Antimo abbey; the legendary Sword in the Stone at the roofless cathedral and Abbey of San Galgano; enjoy the mountain air and views of the 5600 foot tall Monte Amiata; the natural park of the Maremma hills and coastline are to the east; and even Lake Bolsena, a large volcanic lake between the southern border of Tuscany and Umbria. Many Voyagers opt to head toward Florence, Pisa and the northern parts of Tuscany, but we are falling in love with the richness, history and nature of the Crete Sinese and the southern parts--the Off the Tourist Path places. So, when planning a visit to Italy, be flexible... just about everywhere you might go there is beauty, history and many things that will feed your soul. --JF
There were some nice restaurants surrounding the baths, but in typical "we don't need your business" style, dinner wasn't served until 7:30! It was around six. So, they close for at few hours at lunch (so THEY can go home and have THEIR lunch and snuggle with THEIR wife) exactly during the time most tourists want to eat. As my Dad used to say... they are real Lu-Lus! Will we ever get used to the Italian way of doing things? Many restaurants are closed for 3 hours during what Americans consider a peak lunch time period, and many don't open again until 7:30 or 8:00pm, well past Americans' dinner time!
Anyway, onward to find dinner. The sun was getting low in the Tuscan sky. Lucas wanted us to go "home" and cook but we'd have to shop first--a difficult thing to do when not all hilltowns have a supermarket or alimentari that happens to be open when you need something.