Itineraries of the Val d’Orcia among breathtaking landscapes and precious works of art
The tour of the Val d’Orcia fascinates visitors from the whole world
Surely, at least once, you stopped to behold a photo of a hilly landscape, disturbed only by a street lined by cypress trees leading to an isolated farmhouse. Well, you should know that this enchanting type of landscape is located in the Val d’Orcia, in the southern part of the Siena province. This wide valley was formed by the river Orcia, which collects the waters of the tributaries that descend from Mount Amiata and then flows into the Ombrone: generations of farmers have lived in the valley, cultivating it with the utmost respect for the environment. Even now, its inhabitants are characterized by their attention to the landscape, in fact they created the natural artistic and cultural Park of the Val d’Orcia; the outstanding balance between the work of man and nature has even led to the recognition of the Val d’Orcia as World Heritage Site by UNESCO, in 2004. Today, the area is distinguished by its wide cultural, gastronomical and thermal offer.
Things to see in Val d’Orcia
All the towns of the Val d’Orcia will leave you breathless, but Pienza and Montalcino are the most striking. Pienza is located about 50 km from Siena, to which it is also connected by bus. Pienza was once a small village called Corsignano; but its story has changed in 1458, when its noble citizen, Enea Silvio Piccolomini, became Pope Pius II. He therefore decided to rebuild the town according to the concepts of an ideal Renaissance city, and these forms are still intact today. Montalcino, instead, developed gradually, starting even from the Etruscan era; like many other towns of the area of Siena, it enjoyed its golden period during the Middle Ages. This era, in fact, is when many of its monuments were built, such as the nearby Abbey of Sant’Antimo, in the Romanesque style. Montalcino is 40 km from Siena and can also be reached by train and / or bus, as well as with your own car.
Things to do in Val d’Orcia
Often, those who stay in Siena visit the Val d’Orcia to dedicate a day to relax. In its territory there are, in fact, two major spas: Bagno Vignoni and Bagni San Filippo. Bagno Vignoni is a unique place, with the main square occupied almost entirely by the thermal pool used in ancient times. Today’s spas are located in some hotels, but they are also open to those not staying there. At Bagni San Filippo lies a real spa, with swimming pool, restaurant and wellness center. But those who know the secrets of the territory prefers to attend the free thermal baths, hidden in the midst of a lush forest. In the villages of the Val d’Orcia you can also find picturesque shops and cozy restaurants, where you can buy and taste the culinary specialties of the area; you can not leave the valley without having drunk a glass of Brunello di Montalcino, paired with a plate of pici and a cutting board with pecorino cheese or Cinta Senese DOP cured meats. Pici are a type of homemade pasta similar to spaghetti, often seasoned with tomato sauce and aglione, meat sauce or bread crumbs fried in olive oil. The Cinta Senese instead is a local breed of pigs, characterized by a white fur strip on the back of the animal.