With the town firmly on the Tuscan tourist trail you would expect that shopping in Pienza would be an experience. It doesn’t disappoint.
Shopping in Pienza
The Town Of Pienza
Situated firmly in the Val d’Orcia, which I wrote about in an earlier blog, Pienza sits high up with fabulous views of the countryside.
It sits between Montepulciano and Montalcino and the drive to get there passes acres of vineyards. Vineyards that produce local wine that is famous world-wide, including Brunello di Montalcino.
Arriving at Pienza, parking is outside the town walls. A short walk takes you through one of the arched entrances. Immediately, there are bars, tempting looking shops and large numbers of visitors to the town taking advantage of them.
Pienza And Pecorino Cheese
A little diversion into the world of cheese. Have you ever tasted pecorino cheese? It is made from sheep’s milk. There are four main areas producing it in Italy but with many different varieties available.
BB’s favorite is made with pistachios, personally I like my cheese without added flavors and I like my pecorino not too mature. I prefer it slightly soft and creamy. The taste of the cheese depends much on the food the sheep eat and serious pecorino producers take great care to feed sheep with the flavor of the cheese in mind. For example, certain herbs will add to the taste of the cheese and make it quite pungent.
More Than One Type of Pecorino
I once had a disagreement with a woman running a cheese shop in the UK. I asked if she had any pecorino and she produced a piece of cheese. Disappointed with being offered only one type I asked if she had any more and she told me there was only one pecorino cheese, Pecorino Romano. I begged to differ of course. I told her we had about ten different varieties of pecorino just in our local supermarket in Umbria and she still didn’t believe me. In the end I told her to Google pecorino and see what comes up! I wonder if she did?
Pecorino di Pienza
There is a famous cheese called Pecorino di Pienza that people may be familiar with. Produced locally within the Pienza area it is one of my favourite cheeses.
It is not a surprise, therefore, that shopping in Pienza includes visiting the many cheese shops selling rounds of pecorino! All of these shops offer locally produced cheese, and there are always samples available for tastings so you can find just the one you like.
You won’t be able to miss the cheese shops in Pienza because of the smell! The smell is quite strong and not to everyone’s taste so be warned.
You also need to use some discernment as to what is genuine local cheese and what is clearly mass produced.
As well as shops specializing in selling cheese, there are a number of delicatessens selling cheese alongside wine, olive oil, olives, dried mushrooms, pasta in all manner of shapes and colors and other local produce.
These shops all look great and everything is enticing to look at. If you start tasting things at one of the town’s main street, you won’t be able to manage to eat anything else by the time you get to the end. And you will have several shopping bags and a lighter wallet.
Other Shopping in Pienza
One type of shop that I have to treat carefully is anything selling lavender products as I am very allergic to it (think migraine and hives!).
This does restrict both my shopping activity and also my ability to take photographs at times. It is also my worst nightmare if someone sits next to me who is wearing lavender perfume! But I digress (surely not…).
This lavender shop in Pienza could be smelt several streets away. A beautiful shop displaying all sorts of lavender products, bouquets, potpourri, skin care etc.
I particularly liked the lavender-color bicycle used for the display which I thought was a nice touch.
Shopping in Pienza also reveals all manner of pottery, haberdashery and craft shops.
A glance up an alleyway can often reveal a beautiful little shop hidden away that is worth a visit. Whilst some things can be pricey, they tend to be good quality and worth considering.
It is also an opportunity to raise your eyes above the possibilities of shopping in Pienza and consider the beautiful architecture of the town (which I will talk about more in another blog). Beautiful flagstone or herringbone paving contrast with traditional stone wall buildings. And all decorated with wrought iron lamps and features as well as pots of plants adding a bit of green and floral interest.
Many of these town houses don’t have gardens so the front entrance becomes a focus, particularly for someone with a green thumb.
Beautiful Shop Windows
Hopefully I have got you excited at the prospect of shopping in Pienza.
But I hope you have also noticed the effort that people have gone to with window and entrance displays to make the shops attractive? Pienza is an ideal town for window shopping as you never know what you will find next. Like this green Vespa in a clothing shop window. So very Italian!
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