When I first visited Tuscany with my friends 15 years ago, we just spent a few days in the northern part. (Little did I know that only a year later, I would be working around Italy as a tour leader, returning to Tuscany over and over again.) During this first visit, I was looking at the postcards showing a beautiful secluded chapel. Yes, postcards, as we are talking about times before social media. So, I really loved this chapel, but I found out it was located further south, nestled among the fields of Val d'Orcia, and we did not have time to see it. I had to wait another year to get a chance to finally see la cappella in person.
While it is surely one of the most photographed buildings in Tuscany, I didn't meet anyone when I was there. It was just me and my friend, having this magical place all to ourselves. This small church is a real gem, the cypress trees on both sides and the rolling hills all around make it a picture-perfect sight. It was built in the 12th century in a place where - according to the legend - the Virgin Mary appeared to a shepherdess. The building was restored in the 19th century, getting a simple neoclassical facade and a rose window.
The chapel can be found close to the country road between Pienza and San Quirico d'Orcia. Look out for the signpost and turn off onto the dirt road. After a short drive you'll have to park your car and walk about one kilometer to the chapel.
It really is a magical place, a very important building in the Tuscan landscape. Photographers surely have it on their bucket list, but I recommend a visit to anyone looking for a suggestive place, some peaceful time or some quiet moments of worship in a unique location. La Cappella della Madonna di Vitaleta is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.