A Tuscan Itinerary: Val d'Orcia
Courtesy of La Bandita
Located in central Italy, Val d’Orcia is the Brooklyn of Tuscany, thanks to an abundance of artisanal everything. It is home to small-batch pastamakers, dairy farmers and upstart wineries that have created a bold new class of Brunello. Tiny workshops sell hand-tooled leather goods, textiles and ceramics. The scent of local Pecorino wafts from the many specialty food shops. And two stylish hotels have put a decidedly luxe stamp on things.
Val d’Orcia’s neo-Tuscan verve is most evident in two rustic-chic La Bandita properties situated in and around the Renaissance town of Pienza. La Bandita Townhouse (rooms, from $265; 111 Corso Rossellino; 39-0578/749-005; labanditatownhouse.com), a former convent, sits smack in the middle of one of the most charming towns in Tuscany. The 12 guest rooms are minimalist yet warm, a fusion of crisp Italian linens, honey-colored stone, wood floors and whimsical accents like a handwoven straw bag to be used for shopping. La Bandita (rooms, from $265; Podere La Bandita; 39-333/404-6704; la-bandita.com) is an idyllic villa surrounded by verdant, Cypress-and-sheep-speckled grounds with airy lounging areas, shaded terraces for alfresco dining and an infinity pool. The restaurants offer a set menu of fresh, local fare served at oversized tables. The communal setup lends itself to making fast friends with, well, everyone.
Try the farm-to-table experience at Monteverdi (39-05/7826-8146; monteverdituscany.com/dining), where celebrated chef Paolo Coluccio whips up dishes like lavender risotto. At organic farm Podere Il Casale (64 Podere Il Casale; podereilcasale.it), one crosses peacocks and the random donkey before sitting down to a hearty meal and a drop-dead-gorgeous view of the Val d’Oracia valley. Exquisite cheeses, olive oil, pasta and honey are available for purchase.
Tucked into Via Dogali, an ancient cobblestone street in Pienza, Officine 904 (16 Pienza Via Dogali; officine904.it), led by a husband-and-wife designing duo, quietly produces some of the most fabulous (and versatile) bags in Italy. The hyper-modern wares can also be purchased online.