Just two and a half kilometres distance – an easy walk and one to take your time on so as to enjoy the surrounds to the full. Leave behind your robe and sandles for a morning or afternoon and enjoy this stroll of pure and exhilirating freedom. From the hotel go down the road which leads to Cassia, and after a few hundred metres turn left (it is well signposted) and start to go up on the dirt gravel road. Soon you will appreciate the beauty of the surrounds , and once you arrive at Vignoni Alto the surprise is a pleasurable one indeed. There is the keep of the old castle dating back to the 11th century, not much of it remaining to this day unfortunately. Yet the borgo itself is a delight, its corners and secrets a joy. And then there is the church of San Biagio, of Roman origin but greatly revamped over the centuries and with a single nave which never fails to impress visitors – style and elegance are the characteristics, simplicity and reverence the prevailing mood. Inside, on a loop, there are Gregorian chants as an invitation to remain a minute or two and to meditate in peace, an invitation appealing to even the most agnostic of beings! Meditation done, step out and cast your gaze over the whole of Val d’Orcia, a triumph of rolling beauty. What a conundrum Italy is! Schizofrenia seems to prevail at times – screaming and shouting and collapses and devastation the order of the day most of the time, and an ever present distancing from the vital elements which would give sense to our existence. If a crumb of sensitivity remains, then it can certainly be experienced here, for one can walk, enjoy, discover, contemplate and take possession of a moment or two of rare beauty. After all, if you are here at Bagno Vignoni, there will be a reason behind your choice. True!
Ps. San Biagio was a doctor and also bishop of Sebaste in Armenia and his martyrdom occured during the persecution of the the Christians around the year 316, and during the contrasts between the emperors of Costantino (Occidente) and Licino (Oriente). Captured by the Romans, he was beaten and skinned alive with the iron instruments used to weave the wool, and then beheaded for having refused to renounce his Christian faith. He is a a Saint known and much venerated in both the Occidente and the Orient. His cult is widespread both in the Catholic and Orthodox Church. It is a fact that the thickness of walls can at times be very slender and that we all descend from migrant men and women. Amen.