Travel /
Toscana

DISCOVERING VAL D’ORCIA

 
 

The Sienese countryside is a natural work of art. It is a perfect landscape, preserved with wisdom and orderliness. Travelling along the ancient roads, fascinating vistas open up to tell its story, like looking upon a painting, such is its perfection.

 

One of the most beautiful and sensational areas is the Val d’Orcia, a beautiful area full of hills and colours that change with the succession of the seasons. Along the way you will encounter traditional villages of extraordinary charm. 

 

Pienza is a small architectural jewel of perfect proportions. Indeed, it caught the eye of Maestro Franco Zeffirelli who, at Palazzo Piccolomini, decided to shoot some scenes of the film “Romeo and Juliet”. Walking through the streets of the village you will notice some have particularly romantic names such as “Via dell’Amore, Via del Bacio, Via della Fortuna” (the street of Love, the Kiss and Good Luck respectively).

 

Pienza is also the home of the DOP of Pecorino, one of the oldest cheeses in the world, made with sheep’s milk. To taste the many varieties of this typical cheese, try La Taverna del Pecorino and Enoteca Marusco e Maria

 

Montepulciano and Montalcino are surrounded by vineyards and two great wines are produced here: Nobile and Brunello. In addition to sipping an excellent wine, you can admire the view over the entire valley. The panoramic terrace of the Caffè Poliziano in Montepulciano is simply beautiful. The medieval village is filled with elegant Renaissance palaces.

 

Montalcino is a treasure trove of art, history and, what else but exceptional Tuscan food. The world-famous Brunello is perfectly accompanied by a plate of excellent Cinta Senese cured meats, or with a dish of “Pici“, the handmade pasta typical of the province of Siena. 

 

In San Giovanni d’Asso, a small village perched near Montalcino, you can find the first museum in Italy dedicated to the truffle, highly recommended for lovers of the precious tuber.  

 

Absolutely not to be missed is the village of Bagno Vignoni, in the municipality of San Quirico d’Orcia, famous for its thermal spring waters. A large rectangular pool is located in the central square, “Piazza delle Sorgenti”. At night the vapours of the warm spa waters rise, creating a fairy-tale atmosphere and an enchanting scene. For a swim in the free spas just follow the path of the Parco dei Mulini which, setting off from the town centre, will take you to a natural thermal water pool in just a few minutes’ walk.

 

The still warm and clear days of autumn are my favourites for admiring the colours of the countryside and experiencing the grape and olive harvest season. Stock up on cheeses, good wine and Tuscan bread, and enjoy the sunset in one of the many charming settings that the landscape offers.

 

Villages

 

Montepulciano

Montalcino

Bagno Vignoni

Pienza

Castiglione d’Orcia

 

STAY

 

Locanda del Loggiato is a house dating from the 14th century in the centre of Bagno Vignoni. Here you can experience authentic Tuscan hospitality. Barbara and Sabrina, with their enthusiastic smiles and love for their land, will welcome you and guide you to discover the most beautiful places to visit. The b&b is furnished in typical Tuscan style, with terracotta floors and exposed beams. The bedrooms are a dream decorated with four-poster beds, warm and inviting tones, antique and vintage furnishings. There are no televisions (by design), but instead radios to delight guests with music. The common area is a large living room with sofas and a beautiful piano, and the fireplace which is ideal during the winter to warm up and relax after a day out. 

 

Still under the same ownership, Villa Pienza is an elegant Tuscan farmhouse nestled in the heart of the Val d’Orcia, 10 minutes by car from the town. All the rooms are cared for down to the smallest detail. From the windows you can enjoy incredible views of the countryside all around. In the garden you will find aromatic herbs and wild flowers. The large swimming pool can be heated on request to enjoy a nice warm swim even on cool autumn days. A spacious porch furnished with a large table is the perfect place to dine outdoors while sipping a glass of good wine.

 

Locanda in Tuscany is a family-run inn with a magical atmosphere. Claudia, the owner, is personally responsible for the interiors and her exquisite taste is clear to see. For the most part the furnishings are recovered and reused materials, carefully sought out and lovingly returned to life. Old windows become frames for the mirrors, doors are converted to headboards for the beds, theatre curtains are used to embellish huge shower spaces. Everything is designed with the care and relaxation of guests in mind. Prior to arrival, you can choose the type of sheets on which you want to sleep: cotton or linen. From the windows and the swimming pool you will enjoy a 360° view over the Sienese countryside, deliberately clear of garden furniture and parasols, in order to leave the view of the landscape unspoiled. 

 

EAT

 

Dopolavoro la Foce was built in 1939 as a meeting place for the agricultural workers of the homonymous company. Today it is an excellent restaurant that specialises in traditional Tuscan dishes. 

 

To taste the authentic flavours of this land whilst enjoying a view that goes as far as the eye can see over the countryside, including a breathtaking view of the Val d’Orcia, I wholeheartedly recommend a stop at the Locanda in Tuscany restaurant,  Taverna di Mozart, or Podere il Casale 

 

At the Taverna di Mozart all the dishes are made using exclusively local ingredients. I recommend you try the hand-made pici with flour from the Mulino Val d’Orcia.

 

Fonte alla Vena offers traditional cooking, typical of the area, with particular attention to rediscovering ‘poor’ and ancient recipes, and using seasonal ingredients 

 

APERITIVO

 

At Idyllum the cocktails are excellent, and perfect for enjoying in the unusual surroundings of the stables of Palazzo Piccolomini, or outdoors in front of an “idyllic” panorama. 

 

Caffè Poliziano is one of the most famous bars of Italy, and makes a perfect stop for enjoying a drink or a coffee from the terrace with a view. 

 

 

SHOP

 

The bio products of Mulino Val d’Orcia

The cheeses and cured meats produced by Podere il Casale 

Enrico Paolucci’s handcrafted creations

 

EXPERIENCE NATURE

 

The Bagni San Filippo baths are an unmissable stop dedicated to wellness. The water rises from the depths of the earth, making a forceful return to the light and forming concretions of rare beauty.

 

The botanical garden of Puscina Flowers is an essential experience for flower lovers. A floral adventure immersed in colours and scents and surrounded by the beauty of the Sienese countryside.

 

WINE!

 

In the cellar at Podere Brizio, you will find the wine shop where you can try the Brunello di Montalcino produced by this label. From the windows of the room on clear days you can also see the sea. Wine tours of the estate can be organised, starting from the aromatic garden located in front of the pergola of the Foresteria. Here you will be welcomed by the guide who will accompany you among the vineyards located on ancient lands of marine origin

SIGHTS

 

I cipressi di San Quirico d’Orcia

Cappella della Madonna di Vitaleta

Monticchiello –  Teatro Povero 

La Riserva Naturale Lucciobella

Abbazia di Sant’Antimo – Montalcino