Sweet Last Day in Toscana

Even though it has been a month, I want to post about a most magnificent day right before I came back to the USA. I had been working non-stop on the photo shoot of Casa San Marco for 3 weeks, exhausted and desperately in need of some relax time. I had one day left and I asked my friends, Denyse and Claudio if they would take me to somewhere wonderful out in the Tuscan countryside, like maybe the little country church out near Pienza in the Val d’Orcia, Cappella di Vitaleta, one of the most quintessential country churches in Tuscany, and certainly one of the most photographed.  “Ma certo”, Denyse replied.  We headed out on Sunday morning, and I was over the moon excited, I have wanted to see this church since forever, having seen it in photos for years. They took me to an incredible lunch place at Bagno Vignoni, the weather was spring warm, beautiful, deep blue skies. I could feel myself letting down immediately.

Bagno_VignoniBagno Vignoni Thermal Springs


Denyse and Claudio



Around Tuscany_3 copy

Satiated, we headed for the next stop, Cappella di Vitaleta, I am rabid with excitement. The hills in the Val d’Orcia are the most incredible shade of emerald green, spring has arrived and trees are blossoming everywhere.

Around Tuscany_47

I see it in the distance long before we arrive. Can’t miss it.

Cappella di Vitaleta

We drive on a gravel road and finally get as far as we can via macchina. We climb out of the car and proceed on foot the rest of the way. This was what I saw.

P1070490 IMG_7650 IMG_7644

This is one of the most beautiful places I have EVER been to in my life. I am rested, restored, tranquila, and happy.

But that is not the last stop. One more surprise. We walk back to the car, with these emerald greens hills everywhere, hop in and head for the next church on the tour. I can not remember the name, but it is supposed to be pretty wonderful and it was sadly closed.


However, we wander around, and as often happens, I find some wonderful photo ops.

IMG_7679 IMG_7682It’s all in the details.

Upon some further investigation, I meander over to the graveyard adjoining the church and go poking around. There is a broken window up top, and I’m determined to look inside this chapel.


The round window is were I climbed up at least 12 feet on unstable roof tiles and thorny blackberry bushes. I didn’t care. I was obsessed with looking in through that broken window.


I hear voices approaching and scramble back down, over the tiles, nearly breaking my neck but who cares, this was an adventure in the making.


I make my way around to the front of the graveyard and see that there are two older signori talking with Denyse and Claudio, and the chapel and graveyard was totally open. (I did not need to climb up roof tiles to see in but the view was great) Of course, I need to enter. The signori have lived in this area all their lives and explain to us how a young woman , Giordana, mayor of the town, , had died back in the 1970’s and this little chapel was some sort of homage to her. They take me inside and show me a handmade journal/sketchbook that resides there on a little school desk, it is a guestbook of sorts, but it is dedicated to the woman mayor who had passed on. And it is in English, obviously written by a foreigner. I wasn’t able to get them to tell me who did this book and why it was in English.

It was simply exquisite. And it just lives there. I mean, a sketchbook/journal (one of my everlasting passions) just hanging out in some obscure graveyard chapel? How likely is that?




Un pensiero per Giordana. A thought for Giordana.






P1070517The signori told many stories, and were happy to have us as an audience.  These are the precious moments that are the richest in Italy. Having unexpected adventures with a couple of old guys in a crumbly graveyard chapel. Ordinary moments and sweetest of sweet.

I am so fulfilled, I have had my perfect day in the Val d’ Orcia. It could not have been more dreamy.

Grazie infinite Denyse e Claudio~

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15 Responses to Sweet Last Day in Toscana

  1. frankiebouv says:


  2. Lori Landau says:

    OH! OH!! OH!!!!!! I just lived (and relaxed) vicariously through you. this was just what I needed this morning. and I’m inspired to leave a mystery sketchbook somewhere………WOW! xoxo

  3. Natalia says:

    what a wonderful photo essay! thank you for sharing!!!

  4. Liane Cabot says:

    Stacey your pictures and words help me to really be there. Gracie! I leave for Italy in July. would love to meet for coffee to get your advice of how to create my “sweet Day.” Liane

  5. How wonderful! And I will remember this — something new for us to look forward to on our next visit. We had several surprise adventures like this on our last trip. It’s surprises like this that make a trip special and memorable.

  6. rachel aviles says:

    wonderful photos and love the climbing part, could not have been what it was without that! thanks for sharing honey

  7. Lesley Levy says:

    Hauntingly beautiful Stacey…thank you

  8. Lesley says:

    Just lovely Stacey…take me there!

    Lesley XOXO

  9. Debi burton says:

    What a treat . . . this is what I laid eyes on first thing this morning. I’m transformed–what a splendid recreation of your experience, Stacey. Thanks so much for making my day!! xoxo Debi

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