If you plan to leave for Tuscany you should definitely make a stop to visit the Val d'Orcia, the Crete Senesi and the wonderful wines of the area, the most famous is undoubtedly the Brunello di Montalcino. The Tuscan region, as we said, is rich in wine but also beautiful landscapes! So do not forget your camera and go to the discovery of the Val d'Orcia with this our quick guide to the most scenic areas.
Our route starts from Pienza, which is part of the common natural heritage, artistic, cultural protected by UNESCO. Pienza is a Renaissance village in the famous Val d'Orcia valley characterized by large hills adorned with cypress agglomerations. The village was rebuilt by Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who became Pope Pius II, who decided to found it again entrusting the project to Rossellino. In just four years he realized the main buildings of the city: the Duomo, Palazzo Piccolomini (the papal residence), the Town Hall and the Bishop's Palace Borgia. During your walk through the streets of the beautiful village of Pienza, go to Palazzo Piccolomini, and will not be disappointed! By some openings of the building it is possible to take great pictures of the Val d'Orcia, managing to catch a glimpse of the Fortress of Radicofani on the southern hill and Mount Amiata to the west. Small curiosity for film connoisseurs. Palazzo Piccolomini was chosen by Franco Zeffirelli to shoot some scenes of the famous film "Romeo and Juliet". Typical village festival is the "cheese melted" in the square Pope Pius. An ancient phrase in rhyme says: "Pienza is served because of Jewel Author, and tasting of its Taste Cheese!"
The village of San Quirico d'Orcia, is situated on top of a hill and offers breathtaking views of the typical landscape of the Val d'Orcia. Before reaching San Quirico you can see groups of cypress trees on the nearby hills. The cypress trees are the symbol of the landscaped area and represent one of the target taken better into account by photographers. The main photographic path goes right from Pienza to San Quirico d'Orcia where the Chapel of Our Lady of Vitaleta. It is a small church in the middle of cornfields, surrounded by cypress trees and is recognized as a UNESCO good. The village is surrounded by medieval walls with four main entrances. Entering through the northwest door you can admire the façade of the Collegiate Church of San Quirico and Giuditta, a beautiful Romanesque church. Near the Iron gate, along the Francigena road, you will find the Church of Santa Maria Assunta. Another element not to be missed, the Horti Leonini, beautiful gardens, with access from the central Freedom Square and to the right of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta.
In the west of San Quirico d'Orcia is a charming medieval village, Montalcino, also surrounded by walls and dominated by a castle. This place, with its breathtaking views, is capable of transmitting a calm and a peace of mind like no other. The town of Montalcino has become rich and famous thanks to the Brunello, one of the best Italian wines and among the most popular in the world. The old town of Montalcino is dominated by the mighty fortress, built in 1361. The fort has remained intact since the Middle Ages and often become an ideal location for festivals, events and concerts, such as the famous Jazz & Wine Festival, held every year in of July. Another attraction of Montalcino is the characteristic tower of the Palazzo dei Priori, the town hall, which overlooks the main square, Piazza del Popolo. Also visit the Cathedral, the Bishop's Palace and the churches of Sant 'Agostino, Sant' Egidio, San Francisco and the Church of the Madonna del Soccorso.
Sant'Antimo is surely a photographers paradise, a place where nature and architecture intertwine and blend. The Abbey of Sant'Antimo is one of the most significant architectural monuments of Romanesque and a significant example of monastic building of the early twelfth century. The magnificence of the church is enhanced by the surrounding landscape filled with olive groves. According to tradition it was founded by Charlemagne, but the first certain document dates back to 814, at the time of his son Louis the Pious.
We have now reached a good point of our journey and it is almost obligatory to make a stop at Terme di Bagno Vignoni, a village located in the Natural Artistic Park of Val d'Orcia. At the center of the village is the famous "Piazza delle Sorgenti", a rectangular tank that has within it a hot and steaming thermal spring water from the underground aquifer of volcanic origins clearly. The thermal baths of Bagno Vignoni were frequented by famous people such as Pope Pius II, Catherine of Siena, Lorenzo de' Medici and many other artists who considered it a top vacation destination. The spa area, despite the ravages of war, devastation and fires that involved the entire Val d'Orcia in the Middle Ages, has since remained amazingly unchanged over time.
The most famous monument in the city of Castiglione d'Orcia territory is certainly the Rocca di Tentennano. This imposing fortress is placed on top of a limestone hill that rises over the Val d'Orcia and overlooks the small medieval village of Rocca d'Orcia. From Castiglione, along a small uphill road, we arrive at the Rocca Aldobrandesca. Extraordinary is the view towards Rocca Tentennano. A note of interest is the Piazza il Vecchietta, dedicated to Lorenzo di Pietro (1412-1480) who was known as Vecchietta; He was a painter, sculptor and architect of the original Castiglione. The picturesque square is in the heart of the historical center, is oddly sloping and has a great pit in the middle of the fifteenth century travertine.
In the slopes of Mount Amiata we reach the splendid village of Castiglione d'Orcia, Bagni San Filippo. It 'a very charming spa town with sulphurous springs which over the years have formed calcareous conglomerates that have given birth to cascades of enormous charm. But there are not only the baths, San Filippo is a very cultural place. Along the road that leads from Campiglia to Bagni San Filippo is the Cave of St. Philip. The cave was excavated in one large block of travertine and divided in two by a partition. According to tradition, the cave has taken refuge in the past St. Philip Benizi in 1267 to escape the imminent election as Pope, to live as a hermit. For those interested, on 22 and 23 August it will be as usual organized a pilgrimage to the cave, now transformed into rock chapel.