Abbadia San Salvatore

Abbey of Sant'Antimo

Albarese

Acquapendente


anghiari

Archipelago Toscano


Arcidosso


Arezzo


Asciano


Badia di Coltibuono


Bagni San Filippo

Bagno Vignoni

Barberino Val d'Elsa

Beaches

Bolsena Lake


Bomarzo

Brunello di Montalcino

Buenconvento

Campagnatico


Capalbio


Castel del Piano


Castelfiorentino

Castell'Azarra

Castellina in Chianti


Castelmuzio


Castelnuovo Bererdenga


Castiglioncello Bandini


Castiglione della Pescaia


Castiglione d'Orcia


Castiglion Fiorentino


Celleno


Certaldo


Chinaciano Terme


Chianti


Chiusi


Cinigiano


Città di Castello

CivitÀ di Bagnoregio


Colle Val d'Elsa


Cortona


Crete Senesi


Diaccia Botrona

Isola d'Elba

Firenze


Follonica


Gaiole in Chianti


Gavorrano

Gerfalco


Greve in Chianti


Grosseto


Lago Trasimeno


La Foce


Manciano


Maremma


Massa Marittima


Montagnola Senese


Montalcino


Monte Amiata


Monte Argentario

montecalvello

Montefalco


Montemassi


Montemerano


Monte Oliveto Maggiore


Montepulciano


Monteriggioni


Monticchiello


Monticiano


Orbetello


Orvieto


Paganico


Parco Naturale della Maremma


Perugia


Piancastagnaio


Pienza


Pisa


Pitigliano

Prato

Radda in Chianti


Roccalbegna


Roccastrada


San Bruzio


San Casciano dei Bagni


San Galgano


San Gimignano


San Giovanni d'Asso


San Quirico d'Orcia


Sansepolcro


Santa Fiora


Sant'Antimo


Sarteano


Saturnia


Scansano


Scarlino


Seggiano


Siena


Sinalunga


Sorano


Sovana


Sovicille

Talamone

Tarquinia


Tavernelle Val di Pesa


Torrita di Siena


Trequanda


Tuscania


Umbria


Val d'Elsa


Val di Merse


Val d'Orcia


Valle d'Ombrone


Vetulonia


Viterbo

Volterra




 
Walking in Tuscany
             
 
Val d'Orcia, between Pienza and Bagno Vignoni


album Surroundings
       
   

Val d'orcia


   
   

One of the best places to slow travel in Tuscany is the Val d’Orcia, with its exquisite art, museums and churches in small hillside villages, its cuisine and epic countryside. We suggest a panoramic tour of the valley, so that the trip becomes a unique experience among the colors and atmospheres of this unique Tuscan landscape.
Explore the medieval hillside villages on your way to Siena, marvel at settlements that date back to Renaissance times, try some Pecorino cheese in Pienza, and some wine in Montalcino or Montepulciano, where the refined beauty of the squares and churches blends perfectly with the ancient traditions of its wines.

The landscape of the Val d’Orcia was celebrated by painters from the Siennese School, which flourished during the Renaissance. Images of the Val d’Orcia, and particularly depictions of landscapes where people are depicted as living in harmony with nature, have come to be seen as icons of the Renaissance and have profoundly influenced the development of landscape thinking.

 

Cypress trees in the Val d'Orcia

Cypress trees in the Val d'Orcia

 

 

Val d'Orcia is an exceptional reflection of the way the landscape was rewritten in Renaissance times to reflect the ideals of good governance and to create an aesthetically pleasing picture. It lies to the south-east of Siena, its northern boundary approximately 25 km from the city centre. The landscape reflects colonization by the merchants of Siena in the 14th and 15th centuries. They aimed to create a landscape of efficient agricultural units but also one that was pleasing to the eye. The landscape that resulted was one of careful and conscious planning and design and led to the beginning of the concept of 'landscape' as a man-made creation. The landscape was thus created to be efficient, functional, equitable and aesthetically pleasing. It was based on innovative tenure systems whereby the estates owned by merchants were divided into small properties and cultivated by families who lived on the land. Half of the produce was paid to the merchants as rent - sufficient to allow the merchants to reinvest in further agricultural improvements. The farms were mixed farms cultivating grain, vines, olives, fruit and vegetables and with hay meadows and pastures for livestock interspersed between the farms. Farmers practised transhumance with routes to Meremma and l'Amiata. An illustration of the aim for the farming landscape to create pleasing pictures is the persistent tradition of planting roses to embellish vineyards. Cypresses form a striking addition to the landscape planted along routes and around settlements, their regular form punctuating the rounded shapes of the hills and their dark colour contrasting strikingly with the pale landscape

The colonization of the landscape involved creating new settlements for farmers and their families and labourers needed to work the land. It also involved greatly enlarging and improving existing villages. The most dramatic example of a planned new town is Pienza, named after its founder Pope Pius II who commissioned in 1459 Bernardo Rossellino to enlarge his village to create an ideal city with cathedral, palaces and civic buildings surrounding a central piazza, thus bringing together civil and religious authorities. Larger fortified settlements on hills include Montalcino, originally a 13th-century frontier post, Radicofani, Castiglion d'Orcia, Rocca d'Orcia and Monticchello. Elsewhere the landscape is studded with smaller villages on smaller hills, some also fortified. In many cases these settlements include remains of 13th-century buildings when Siena first gained control of the area, buildings from the great period of expansion in the 14th and 15th centuries, and also later buildings constructed under Florentine control in the 16th centuries.

The World Heritage site is significant in that the large farmhouses assume a dominant position in the landscape and are enriched by prominent architectural elements such as loggias, belvederes, porches and avenues of trees bordering the approach roads.

The strategic importance of the area, its connection with Siena, and its development, are all intertwined with the Via Francigena which has traversed the area north-south since Roman times (when it was know as the Via Cassia) linking Rome with the north of Italy and France. Since late medieval times, the route has been used an ecclesiastical route, linking the Church of Rome with its dioceses. It also facilitated a flow of pilgrims and merchants and generally allowed the transmission of people and ideas to enter the region. The route fostered the development of fine churches and monasteries such as the Collegiata di San Quirico in the Abbey of Sant'Antimo.

In the Val d'Orcia (and also in Siena) the landscape is strongly associated with utopian ideals. Siena was a sort of 'commune' and the Val d'Orcia a model of sustainable rural development, and both manifested the highest aesthetic qualities. The ideal landscape was painted by Lorenzetti in the Town Hall in Siena in 1338-40; it became reality in the Val d'Orcia and was then immortalized in paintings by artists such as Giovanni di Paolo, and Sano di Petri, who in turn helped to strengthen the ideals.[1]

The Val d'Orcia is natural setting of extraordinary beauty. It has become known all over the world as the classic Tuscan landscape. Important films like the Oscar winners The English Patient, La Vita è Bella and Gladiator were shot here, as well as Romeo and Juliet directed by Franco Zeffirelli, and most recently Under the Tuscan Sun, cementing the Val D’Orcia’s beauty in cinematic history. Ultimately, Shadow Dancer by the American writer/director Brad Mirman was filmed over the course of six weeks in the splendid farmland among Radicofani, Castiglion d'Orcia, San Quirico and Abbadia San Salvatore.
Bagno Vignoni is also the location where parts of Andrei Tarkovsky's 1983 film Nostalghia were shot.

Bagno Vignoni is nowadays famous and appreciated all around the world as an outstanding health spa, surrounded by landscapes of stunning beauty. Besides its thermal waters, the most characteristic feature of Bagno Vignoni is its spa facility, which has remained unchanged through time. The water that surfaces in the main square of the town is very hot, with a temperature of 52° C.The thermal water pool is placed in the center of the square, surrounded on three sides by perimeter walls measuring around one and a half meter in height. There are also buildings designed by Bernardo Rossellino in honor of Pope Pius II and the loggia where Saint Catherine from Siena is said to have stopped.


Villa La Foce


A view across the garden and the Val d'Orcia, towards a horizon dominated by the volcanic peak of Monte Amiata


La Foce lies on the hills overlooking the Val d’Orcia, between Monticchiello and Chianciano Terme.
Iris Origo's La Foce is the last, and in many ways the best, of the Anglo-Florentine villas. Created by an Anglo-American married to an Italian, it engaged with the land and the people of Tuscany in a way that few had done before; it also adapted to the changing economic and social conditions which ultimately destroyed the Anglo-Florentine community.

From Etruscan times (a burial-place dating from the 7th century BC to the 2nd AD has been recently excavated on the property), the settlement of La Foce has been continuously inhabited for many centuries. In medieval times, ts strategic position on the historical Via Francigena leading to Rome greatly increased its significance. The Villa itself (now available for rent) was built in the late 15th century as a hostel for pilgrims and merchants traveling on this busy road.

In 1924 the clay-covered hills were bought by Antonio and Iris Origo, who dedicated their lives to bringing progress and social change to the then poverty-ridden area, building a profitable farm on the enormous property. Today the estate – a combination of woods, cultivated fields and olive groves – is run by the Origo daughters, Benedetta and Donata. The garden, is an ideal combination between the landscape and 20th century architecture, blending Italian and English traditions and taste.


Villa La Foce estate


The Origos engaged an English architect, Cecil Pinsent, who had previously done extensive work on Bernard Berenson’s Villa I Tatti in Florence, to restructure the main buildings and create a large garden at La Foce. The vast garden was conceived to enhance the Renaissance house and expand the spectacular view over the valley of the Orcia and the Amiata mountain. The harmony between buildings, garden and nature makes La Foce an ideal example of Tuscany’s architectural and cultural evolution.

The garden grew gradually, between 1925 and 1939. The villa is surrounded by a formal Italian garden, which is divided into geometrical ‘rooms’ by box hedges with lemon trees in terracotta pots. Travertine stairs lead to the rose garden and a winding wisteria-covered pergola bordered by lavender hedge. Gentle informal terraces climb up the hill, where cherry trees, pines and cypresses grow among wild broom, thyme and rosemary, and a long cypress avenue leads to a 17th-century stone statue. Through the wood, a path joins the garden and the family cemetery, considered one of Pinsent’s best creations.


Opening hours: the garden is open to the public every Wednesday afternoon. Guided tours leave from the Fattoria courtyard every hour from 3 to 7 PM (April-September) and 3 to 5 PM (October-March).

Gardens in Tuscany | Villa La Foce

Villa La Foce Estate | La Foce - 61, Strada della Vittoria -53042 Chianciano Terme - Siena | www.lafoce.com

 

"The Val d'Orcia itself, with its uncannily lunar crete senesi (clay-earth hillocks), had long become barren; prey to soil erosion, antiquated farming practices, rampant deforestation and social strife."


La Foce was a farm-estate of roughly 7,000 hectares (“a place with enough work for our lifetime”, as Iris noted). Embedded in the Val d’Orcia, beneath the benign gaze of Monte Amiata – an extinct volcano as well as a site significant to the Etruscans – and with the fortified medieval village of Radicofani standing sentinel on the skyline, the estate had fallen to rack and ruin. The Val d’Orcia itself, with its uncannily lunar crete senesi (clay-earth hillocks), had long become barren; prey to soil erosion, antiquated farming practices, rampant deforestation and social strife.

A forlorn desert of barren clay hills rising from a parched valley, the estate had been mismanaged for centuries. Only a fraction of the land was good, only a fraction of that was cultivated, the forests were neglected and the twenty-five outlying farms were in varying states of disrepair - some were virtually inaccessible while most contained several dozen inhabitants crammed into a few dark, airless rooms. To the south stood the black, basalt cliffs and towering fortress of Radicofani, to the west was the summit of Monte Amiata, an extinct volcano which blocked the sea breezes but did nothing to stop the bitter tramontana wind from the north and the hot dry scirocco from the south.
Despite this unpromising prospect, the Origos were enchanted:


To live in the shadow of that mysterious mountain, to arrest the erosion of those steep ridges, to turn this bare clay into wheat-fields, to rebuild these farms and see prosperity return to their inhabitants, to restore the greenness of these mutilated woods - that, we were sure, was the life that we wanted.


Following so soon after the devastation of the First World War, with its mustard gas, barbed wire and trench warfare, it is hardly surprising that the idealistic couple should decide to devote themselves to repairing the land. The estate had not always been barren, however, and Origo, a romantic as well as a budding historian, was as seduced by the region's past as by its potential future. In her autobiography she proudly recounts how the valley had been colonized by the Etruscans, how local chestnut woods had supplied timber for the Roman galleys in the second Punic war, and how, as part of the famous Via Francigena - the medieval pilgrim route to Rome, the local roads had been linked to the whole of Christian Europe. In fact, her own villa had been built at the end of the fifteenth century as a hostel for those very pilgrims. [3]
The Origos briskly, pragmatically, set about restoring the infrastructure of the entire estate. They implemented progressive social ideals as well as far-seeing farming methods which employed innovative agricultural practices. The estate’s farm-houses, eventually more than 50 in all, were renovated and/or completely rebuilt; the main villa was refurbished; and a school and dispensary were created, the latter named after Gianni, the Origo’s first-born, who had died of meningitis at the ageof seven.[4]
In 1933 Pinsent added the chapel and cemetery which he considered one of his finest works. Situated in woodland at some distance from the house, the cemetery was enclosed by cypresses and walls, against which grew pittosporurn, and it was planted by the Marchesa with blue periwinkle and roses amongst the graves so that it formed a garden, a thing unknown in Italy at that time.

 



Atilla is said to have introduced the maremmano oxen from the Hungarian steppes to plough the heavy Italian soil; these picturesque creatures were loved by the Anglo-Florentines, as much for their noble patience as for their utilitarian strength. Gradually the maremmano were interbred with the chianini, finer white oxen from the Val di Chiana whom Origo described as 'gentle as evening moths'.

 

 


Villa La Foce, cemetery, where Iris Origo and her husband are buried, alongside Gianni.

     

Near La Foce, are the Renaissance and medieval towns of Pienza, Montepulciano, Monticchiello, San Quirico d'Orcia and Montalcino. The countryside abounds in lovely walks among woods and the characteristic crete senesi (clay hills) and famous wines such as the Vino Nobile and Brunello can be tasted in the local cellars.

   
   

Pienza


Klik voor het volgende hoofdstuk

Pienza


Pienza is the 'touchstone' of Renaissance urbanism.
Pienza was rebuilt from a village called Corsignano, which was the birthplace of Enea Silvio Piccolomini.
The leading humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini (1405-64), elected to the papal throne in 1458 as Pius II, was born in Corsignano, situated on a hill overlooking the Orcia and Asso valley a short distance south-east of Siena. When he returned there after becoming pope, he was struck by the extreme misery of its inhabitants, which inspired him to endow his birthplace with new buildings, and make it his summer court.. The monumental center of Pienza is the Piazza Pio II, living example of the utopian ideal city designed by humanists architects of the fifteenth century. The square rontains all the main buildings of the village, the Cathedral, the Bishop's Palace, the Palazzo Piccolomini, Municipal Palace, the Palauo Ammannati and a fine 15th century well.

By his death in 1464, Pius had rebuilt the town’s medieval centre into a crown jewel of the Renaissance, and renamed the town after himself.
Dominating the lovely piazza is the cathedral church, with its magnificent facade of
local travertine stone. The cathedral was built out over the slope of the hill, and its apse has subsided. A crack runs across the floor and up the transept walls, noticeable even at the church’s dedication in 1462.
Famous today is the complete set of five painted altarpieces by the leading Sienese
painters of the day, Giovanni di Paolo, Matteo di Giovanni, Sano di Pietro and Lorenzo di Pietro called Vechietta.
Pienza has been designated as part of the world-wide heritage of humanity by UNESCO.

 
The Piccolomini Palace was built in 1459 by famed architect Bernardo Rossellino. The Piccolomini family lived in the Palazzo until 1962.
On the ground floor, the inner courtyard and rooms present the architectural structure; several exhibition stations illustrate Pius II's ambitious humanist project for the ideal city. The first floor is the location of the appartamento nobile where the halls open onto the rooms: the dining room, the music room, the study, the weapons room, the library, and several bedrooms, including that of Enea himself. The piano nobile rooms are furnished with antiques of the period, paintings, objets d?art, and many tokens of a past that still remains intact.
The true architectural theme of Palazzo Piccolomini is its relationship with nature and the landscape. From the portico on the rear, unfolds an extraordinary view of the Valdorcia and Monte Amiata. Inserted into this panorama, on the ground floor of the palazzo, a square-shaped garden bound by walls with a well in the middle, is the first hanging garden of the Renaissance.

Gardens in Tuscany | The Piccolomini garden in Pienza

Architecture in Tuscany | Piazza Pio II

 
Piccolomini garden

 

 
Montepulciano



Montepulciano, is built along a narrow limestone ridge and, at 605 m (1,950 ft) above sea level. The city, full of elegant Renaissance palaces, ancient churches, charming squares and hidden corners, boasts vast panoramas all over the wonderful Val d'Orcia and Val di Chiana valleys that surround it.
Montepulciano is encircled by walls and fortifications designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder in 1511 for Cosimo I. Inside the walls the streets are crammed with Renaissance-style palazzi and churches, but the town is chiefly known for its good local Vino Nobile wines. a long, winding street called the Corso climbs up into the main square, which crowns the summit of the hill.


Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Biagio, on the road to Chianciano, just outside Montepulciano


The main street of Montepulciano stretches for 1.5 kilometers from the Porta al Prato to the Piazza Grande at the top of the hill. The main landmarks include:

* The Palazzo Comunale, designed by Michelozzo in the tradition of the Palazzo della Signoria (Palazzo Vecchio) of Florence.
* Palazzo Tarugi, attributed to Antonio da Sangallo the Elder or Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola. It is entirely in travertine, with a portico which was once open to the public.
* The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, or the Duomo of Montepulciano, constructed between 1594 and 1680, includes a masterpiece from the Sienese School, a massive Assumption of the Virgin triptych painted by Taddeo di Bartolo in 1401.
* The Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Biagio is on the road to Chianciano outside the city. It is a typical 16th century Tuscan edifice, designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder on a pre-existing Pieve, between 1518 and 1545. It has a circular (central) plan with a large dome over a terrace and a squared tambour. The exterior, with two bell towers, is built in white travertine.

As in Cinigiano, Calici di stelle is the main summer event in Montepulciano. The Strada del Vino Nobile offers an enogastronomic tour in the various Quarters of Montepulciano with wine tastings and a typical dinner under the guidance of expert Sommeliers and never the less various entertainments and music shows.

The Bravio delle Botti takes place on the last Sunday of August along the main alleys of the town centre of Montepulciano. It is an original challenge between the eight Contradas that compete for a painted cloth banner. The two athletes, called Spingitori, roll 80 kilos barrels in a uphill race for about 1800 metres along the main street of the town through the historical centre, until they reach the churchyard of the Duomo in Piazza Grande.


 
Montepulciano, San Biagio
Montepulciano, Palazzo Publicco

Montalcino



The picturesque fourteenth-century Fortress of Montalcino


The town is located to the west of Pienza, close to the Crete Senesi in Val d'Orcia.
The hill upon which Montalcino sits has been settled probably since Etruscan times. Its first mention in historical documents in 814 AD suggests there was a church here in the 9th century, most likely built by monks who were associated with the nearby Abbey of Sant'Antimo. The population grew suddenly in the middle of the tenth century when people fleeing the nearby town of Roselle took up residence in the town.

The town takes its name from a variety of oak tree that once covered the terrain. The very high site of the town offers stunning views over the Asso, Ombrone and Arbia valleys of Tuscany, dotted with silvery olive orchards, vineyards, fields and villages. The lower slopes of the Montalcino hill itself are dominated by highly productive vines and olive orchards.

The first medieval walls were built in the 13th century. The fortress was built at the highest point of the town in 1361, on a pentagonal plan designed by the Sienese architects Mino Foresi and Domenico di Feo. The fortress incorporates some of the pre-existing southern walls, the pre-existing structures including the keep of Santo Martini, the San Giovanni tower and an ancient basilica which now serves as the fortress chapel.Though the town itself was eventually conquered, the fortress itself was never taken, an admirable feat, considering the size of the Sienese and Florentine forces that besieged Montalcino at varying intervals.

Down the narrow, short street that extends from the main gate of the fortress is the Chiesa di Sant'Agostino with its simple Romanesque façade, also built in the 13th century.

 
Montalcino, Piazza del Popolo

The building adjacent to the church is a one-time convent, but it is now the home of the Musei Riuniti which is both a civic and diocesan museum. The museums hold various works, including a gorgeous wooden crucifix by an unknown artist of the Sienese school, two beautiful 15th century wooden sculptures, including one of an incredibly moving Madonna by an anonymous artist which has become the symbol of Montalcino on the various posters and pubblicity, and several other sculptures in terracotta which appear to be of the Della Robbia school. The collection also includes a St Peter and St Paul by Ambrogio Lorenzetti and a Virgin and Child by Simone Martini. There are also more modern works from the beginning of the 20th century that offset and reflect the older works of art in the artful way they are presented by the curator.

The Duomo (cathedral), dedicated to San Salvatore, was originally built in the 14th Century, but it now has a neo-classical appearance thanks to extensive renovation work that was done in the early 19th century under the direction of Sienese architect Agostino Fantasici. originally the Piazza della Principessa Margherita, is down the hill from the fortress and Duomo on the via Matteotti. The principal building on the piazza is the town hall, once the Palazzo dei Priori (built late 13th, early 14th century) which was for many years the Palazzo Comunale. The palace is adorned with the coats of arms of the Podesta who once ruled the city. A very high medieval tower is incorporated into the palazzo. Close by is a Renaissance structure with six round arches, called La Loggia, which was started at the very end of the 14th century and finished in the early 15th, but which has undergone much restoration work over the subsequent centuries.


 

Montalcino, Via Ricasoli

The Abbey of Sant'Antimo


The Abbey of Sant'Antimo


The Abbey of Sant'Antimo (Abbazia di Sant'Antimo) is a beautiful Romanesque church, in a picture-perfect setting just south of Montalcino. It sits in a large valley with views of the hill town Castelnuovo dell'Abate, rolling hills covered in olive groves and vineyards, and wild forests. Sant'Antimo is "one of the finest Romanesque religious buildings in Italy."
Its name refers to Saint Anthimus of Rome, whose relics were moved here during the late 8th century. The Romanesque church was built during the 12th century, in order to enlarge the preexistant monastery. As such, the actual structure is the result of diverse constructions and modifications executed over the centuries.

Gregorian chants are usually sung about 11 a.m. on Sundays. They are also
sung every day at 9 a.m and, during vesper services, at 19h on working days and
at 18.30h on Sundays. Services and songs are done also in other times of
the night and of the day.

Visiting hours

Weekdays:
10.30 a.m. - 12.30 p.m. /
3.00 - 6.30 p.m.
Sundays and Holidays:
9.15 - 10.45 a.m. / 3.00 - 6.00 p.m.


 
The Abbey of Sant'Antimo was constructed on the site of a Roman villa. In the 4th and 5th centuries the village of Castelnuovo dell'Abate,
on the hills nearby, was an important inhabited centre, endowed with a parish.
Pieces recycled from the villa were reused in the church and are still visible in the tower.



San Quirico d'Orcia


San Quirico d'Orcia
San Quirico 'Orcia


San Quirico d'Orcia, a small medieval town where you can breathe the history of Tuscany, is a charming town on the northern edge of the Val d'Orcia, on the hills that separate the Val d'Orcia from Val d'Asso.

Among the most important monuments are to be mentioned the beautiful Collegiate church of Saints Quirico and Giulitta, built over the ruins of the church of Osenna dating back to the eighth century, with a magnificent Romanesque portal with zoomorphic sculptures and a lintel with the fight between monsters. On the right side there is another Lombardic portal supported by caryatids from the school of Giovanni Pisano.

On the back of the collegiate there is Palazzo Chigi, built by Carlo Fontana for the Cardinal Flavio Chigi. Walking down the via Francigena, today called Via Dante Alighieri, you arrive in Piazza della Liberta’ with the church of San Francesco, bearing a Madonna painted by Della Robbia.
On the square there is the Porta Nuova, opening to the Horti Leonini, an Italian style garden built by Diomede Leoni in 1540.
Continuing you come to the church of Santa Maria Assunta, in Romanesque style with Lombardic influences, with another interesting portal built with material coming from the Abbey of Sant’Antimo.

 
Collegiata dei Santi Quirico e Giulitta, portal


Bagno Vignoni



Bagno Vignoni is known since Roman times for the curative properties of its thermal waters.
The peculiarity of this village is the lack of a central square, which was replaced by a huge tub in the 16th century, fed directly from the termal source - making Bagno Vignoni a very special place.

Bagno Vignoni


The thermal baths, probably well known even in Etruscan times, were definitely enjoyed by the Romans as testified by a plaque located under the arcade of the church of San Caterina, which indicates the consecrating of these waters to the Nymphs. Thanks to their close vicinity to Via Francigena, important thoroughfare which connected northern Europe to the Italic peninsular, these baths became more and more popular during the medieval period.

Bagno Vignoni became a halting and refreshment point for the numerous pilgrims who traveled the Via Francigena on their way to Rome, one of the main destinations for the Christian pilgrimages. The thermal waters of Vignoni were used both for personal hygiene and for curing numerous illnesses. For this reason the spa also became a popular resort for famous dignitaries like Pope Pio II Piccolomini and Lorenzo il Magnifico.


Bagni di San Filippo

In the heart of the Val d’Orcia, San Filippo is characterized by suggestive calcareous sediments made by the hot sulphurous water.
San Filippo is only half an hour away from Bagno Vignoni and it has a similar past: the waters of San Filippo were known by Romans, became famous in Middle Ages, treated famous people like Lorenzo il Magnificio and other princes of the Medici family.

The huge oak tree at Le Checche

The huge oak tree at Le Checche is situated near Pienza along the provincial road no. 53 which goes from Bagno Vignoni to Radicofani, across the Val d'Orcia. The oak tree (Quercus pubescens Willd), is characterized by large, imposing, cross branches; it is 360 years old, it is 20 mt high, with a diametre of 19 mt;the girt of the trunk is of 4,65 mt.


 


Bagni di San Filippo

 


Monica Bellucci in Bagni San Filippo, Le Meraviglie 2014

 
   
Monte Amiata and the Val d'Orcia, view from La Foce

 
Enlarge map Val d'Orcia

 



Walking in the Val d'Orcia
[1]

   
From San Quirico d'Orcia to Bagno Vignoni
Bagno Vignoni - La Foce
Bagno Vignoni - Bagno Vignoni
Castiglione d'Orcia - Castiglione d'Orcia

Walking in the Val d'Orcia [2]

 

Borgo dell'Eremo
and Chiesa di San Marcello

Vivo d'Orcia - Vivo d'Orcia
Castelnuovo dell'Abate - Vivo d'Orcia

The Castle of Vivo d'Orcia lies in the widespread Orcia valley in southern Tuscany, 35 km north of Podere Santa Pia. The area surrounding Montalcino has been famed for centuries by artists and poets for its beautiful yet peaceful landscapes, comprising of soft rolling valleys and lightly peppered with olive groves and vineyards of superior quality.
Vivo d'Orcia is a splendid outlying district of Castiglion d'Orcia, set in a valley outside time. At the foot of the castle, the river Vivo runs whose sources rise in the locality of Ermicciolo. Starting in the middle ages flour-mills, paper-mills and ironworks were built along the torrent and, in the 1920’s, one of the first hydroelectric power stations. Traces of these old buildings, covered with climbing plants, may still be seen here in one of the area’s most beautiful and evocative landscapes.

Maps and further descriptions are available in Podere Sante Pia.

 

 

Walk around Pienza
Montepulciano - Pienza | 11 km, 3 hours


   
     

Photo gallery Monastero di Sant'Anna in Camprena

Photo Gallery Val d'Orcia

 

   
  Pienza   Cappella della Madonna di Vitaleta
       

 

 

    Monastero di Sant'Anna in Camprena, cortile
     

 

 

 
BagniSanFilippoBalenaFossoBianco2   Sant'Angelo in Colle   L'Abbazia di Sant'Antimo (Montalcino)

Bagni San Filippo

 

  Sant'Angelo in Colle   L'Abbazia di Sant'Antimo, l'abside della chiesa originaria [1]

Walking in Tuscany | San Quirico d'Orcia, Bagni Vignoni, Castiglione d'Orcia, Rocca d'Orcia, Montalcino, La Foce

Walking in Tuscany | Rocca d'Orcia, Castelnuovo dell'Abate - Vivo d'Orcia


Historic Centre of the City of Pienza | whc.unesco.org

Trekking Val d'orcia


[1] Val d'Orcia - UNESCO World Heritage Centre
Dotted with cypress trees and the dramatic slopes of the volcanic mountains Amiata and Radicofani, the natural park of the Orcia Valley is one of Tuscany’s best-preserved natural wonders just added in the UNESCO's WORLD HERITAGE LIST and is universally recognized as one of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth.
[3] Katie Campbell , A modern pastoral in an ancient landscape - Iris Origo's La Foce, in Paradise of Exiles: The Anglo-American Gardens of Florence, pp. 154-167.
[4] How An Irish-American Writer survived World War II in Tuscany (Val d’Orcia) | www.trustandtravel.com

 



Located on the outskirts of Castiglioncello Bandini, Podere Santa Pia offers the quiet tranquility of a private retreat, with numerous attractions and gorgeous small hillside villages only a short drive away. Enjoy the exquisite art, museums and churches in the nearby cities, then relish the cuisine and epic countryside of the Maremma.
Podere Santa Pia highlights the best of the quintessential Italian region.

Hidden secrets in Tuscany | Holiday home Podere Santa Pia

Cappella della Madonna di Vitaleta
Podere Santa Pia
 
Podere Santa Pia
 
San Quirico d'Orcia, Cappella della Madonna di Vitaleta



Rocca di Tentennano
Banfi, Castello di Poggio alle Mura
Siena, Duomo
Rocca di Tentennano


The landscape ot the Val d'Orcia as it unfolds nowadays was created by wealthy Siennese merchants in the 14th and 15th centuries. The farms cultivate mainly grains, vines and olives. Rows of cypresses are also a distinctive sight. The beauty of the area inspired Renaissance painters and early travellers on Via Francigena. And Iris Origo.

 

The Val d'Orcia between La Foce and Radicofani


  'We live on a large farm in southern Tuscany - twelve miles from the station and five from the nearest village. The country is wild and lonely: the climate harsh. Our house stands on a hillside, looking down over a wide and beautiful valley, beyond which rises Monte Amiata, wooded with chestnuts and beeches. Nearer by, on this side of the valley, lie slopes of cultivated land: wheat, olives and vines, but among them still stand some ridges of dust-coloured clay hillocks, the crete senesi - as bare and colourless as elephants' backs, as mountains of the moon. The wide river-bed in the valley holds a rushing stream in the rainy season, but during the summer a mere trickle, in a wide desert of stones. And then, when the wheat ripens and the alfalfa has been cut, the last patches of green disappear from the landscape. The whole valley becomes dust-coloured - a land without mercy, without shade. If you sit under an olive-tree you are not shaded; the leaves are like little flickering tongues of fire. At evening and morning the distant hills are misty and blue, but under one's feet the dry earth is hard. The cry of the cicadas shrills in the noonday.' [Iris Origo, War in Val d'Orcia' (1947), p.15-16 ]