This morning we drove to Bagno Vignoni, an ancient thermal bath site for the Romans and today. It’s a tiny town we’d been to before, with Elizabeth and Chuck, but this time we went to Piscine Val di Sole. It’s part of a hotel, but you can pay to use the facility. It’s two pools of hot thermal spring water in a beautiful setting with the Rocca d’Orcia formidable on the hill above. By the time we’d had lunch and wandered around it was 1:00, and they closed the pools for a whole hour, I guess to give the lifeguards a break. We sat and read and slept under the trees, and then at 2 we went into the wonderful warm water. You can stand under two waterfalls, and the water is hot! It was too hot to swim laps, although Richard gave it a try. In Italy, everyone, even men, have to wear bathing caps, so here’s a photo of Jack in his! There are also natural springs and ruins of earlier baths, and the water flows through chutes and the over the cliff into a bright turquoise pool below. We want to go there next time.
On the way home we stopped by Pienza, a wonderful, architecturally famous hill town. Pope Pius, from 1458- 1464, did a huge Renaissance upgrade of his small hometown, and even changed its name to Pienza, after himself. The town has a more open feel than Montepulciano, and the cathedral is beautiful with bright fresco borders on the arches in the interior. However, it was built so close to the cliff that the apse began to crack almost as soon as it was built. After all kinds of feats, they’ve gotten it straight. We didn’t stay very long but will return to see more since it’s only six kilometers away. Tonight, since we went to the supermercato this morning, I’m cooking dinner, and we will drink the wine that Maria, our hostess, gave us upon our arrival.