Christmas Shopping in Pienza: SAY “CHEESE”! -(by Mari R.) – Oh my gosh, it is almost Christmas and, as usual, I don’t have my presents ready yet! I need some ideas! It’s very difficult to find the right gift for some friends of mine. Panic.
Luckly, I have an ace up my sleeve: special food for special people.
Well, following my idea, today I am going to a small famous village in the Val D’Orcia where I can buy some excellent pecorino cheese.
Pienza Shopping Tour
Pienza is a gem, perched on the top of a hill as Pope Pius the second wanted: simple, harmonious and extremely beautiful. The main square, named after the wise Pope (Piazza Pio II), is unique. Here, the soul becomes lighter and lighter in perfect harmony with the surrounding beauty.
I would love to tell you something about this Pope, man of God, and all the beauty that he has given to this small place, but not today, sorry. Today I am here just to buy presents! We will be back, I promise, and will show you around, telling you more about Enea Silvio Piccolomini and his town.
Natale in Pienza
Last year Pienza was full of colourful Christmas market stalls, but not this year.
Of course, the streets and all the shops have been decorated but in a very simple way: green garlands and Laurel festoons enriched with brilliant red apples and pomegranates.
Some shops have baskets full of laurel and apples hanging outside. It is simple but very beautiful. The atmosphere is very festive.
In a corner of the main square, there is a big tree decorated with red and golden baubels. I love it!
There are also cribs: I Presepi, a symbol of our Italian tradition; some inside churches , others placed in more unusual places.
Corso Rossellino is full of nice shops. It easy for me to be distracted by things in shop windows…I must be strong and go straight to the main target for today.
I know where to go, and I have only to follow the sweet pecorino smell to find the shop.
Here it is! “Marusco e Maria” the best pecorino cheese in Tuscany, according to my taste of course!
The strong smell surrounds me and draws me inside the shop. But this is not a shop, it is more like “a place of delights”. Different types of Pecorino are on display.
The cheese can be seasoned in many different ways. A cheese can be put under wood ashes, wrapped in nut leaves, covered with straw. Every treatment gives the cheese a very unique smell and taste. Each one different.
The owners are nice people and we are offered free tastings , assaggi. It’s a delicious experience, my taste buds are thrilled.
With my friends we decide to buy a couple of them. I am sure they will be much appreciated as Christmas gifts. Being a special delicatessen, gastronomia, there are other delicacies , prelibatezze, too. Cheese made with goat milk, easily recognized for its pungent smell. Fresh pecorino cheese flavored with truffle,tartufo, red pepper, peperoncino, or wild herbs, erbe selvatiche …the smell is overwhelming. There is also a large selection of Italian and Tuscany honey , Miele Toscano. I take a small gift for myself: Lavender honey that I have never tested before, it will be a sweet surprise.
My friends decide to go for jams and preserves. Some are quite unusual; have you ever tasted the combination: peach and whiskey jam?
We also can’t resist to buy a small selection of artisanal beers. It appears they are high quality. Now our cheese, jams, beers are ready and placed in simple paper bags. The presents are done, my Christmas saved.
Now I can peacefully enjoy Pienza for a while.
Merry Christmas everyone! Buon Natale!