Medieval castles, sinuous hills, ancient villages, beautiful farmhouses, isolated farmhouses, avenues of cypresses, fabulous vineyards and olive groves, and gold-colored wheat fields: these are just some of the elements that make up the fantastic and harmonious landscapes of the Val d’Orcia!
Crossed by the river Orcia, from which the valley takes its name, this splendid region in the south of Tuscany winds along the provinces of Siena and Grosseto. The entire area is now a protected park, and has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 2004.
The beautiful landscapes of the Val d’Orcia, which inspired many Renaissance painters, are dotted with many small castles, abbeys, villages and villages, including Montalcino, San Quirico d’Orcia and Pienza, each with its own incredible history.
Montalcino, a medieval city where you can visit the Diocesan Civic Museum of Sacred Art, which houses one of the richest collections of painting and wooden sculpture of the Sienese school. Particular then the Town Hall, whose slender structure is flanked by a high bell tower that stands almost like a lookout tower.
Once here, it is naturally worth exploring the beautiful surrounding countryside, towards Castelnuovo dell’Abate the splendid Abbey of Sant’Antimo stands alone, one of the highest examples of Romanesque-French in Italy.
Montalcino is also famous for its fine wine production, starting with the well-known Brunello. A perfect time to get in touch with the authenticity of local flavors is the last Sunday in October, on the occasion of the characteristic “Sagra del Tordo“. The Truffle Museum was born in the village, the first in Italy dedicated to the precious and fragrant tuber.
Montepulciano, a village full of imposing Renaissance palaces, artisan shops, churches with splendid facades and even more beautiful and interesting interiors.
The main square, Piazza Grande, is dominated by the beautiful tower and the gothic facade of the Palazzo Comunale. Opposite the town hall is the Dome, dating back to the end of the 16th century.
Below the walls you can admire the temple of the Madonna di San Biagio, considered a very high example of architecture, stands out in the distance in the green countryside thanks to the travertine with which the building was built.
Montepulciano is also internationally known for its Vino Nobile, one of the most popular Tuscan wines in the world, obtained from the pressing of grapes from the vineyards surrounding the village.
Pienza, the best known center of the Val d’Orcia and known as the city of Pope Pius II. Much of the significant historical and artistic heritage of Pienza is concentrated in the suggestive square dedicated to Pope Pius II, Piazza Pio II, where the Palio del cacio al melt takes place in the first week of September. All the buildings that overlook it were created by Bernardo Rossellino, such as the Cathedral of the Assumption.
On the left stands Palazzo Borgia, today the seat of the Diocesan Museum. In the square there is also the Palazzo Comunale, with its low and large tower with clock, which inside preserves a valuable fresco of the Sienese school of the fifteenth century with the Madonna and Child and the patrons of Pienza, while at the corner with Corso Rossellino there is Palazzo degli Ammannati. Pienza is famous for pecorino, one of the best Italian cheeses and at the same time with the longest history.
The whole area is rich in local products of great quality such as the fabulous pecorino di Pienza, intense olive oil, delicious wine, saffron, mushrooms, truffles, game, and many other specialties.
Also famous are the thermal baths in the area, such as the one in Bagno Vignoni or Bagni di San Filippo.
Val d’Orcia is an extraordinary land, a perfect combination of landscape and man-made work. In 2004 it was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco for the beauty of its rolling hills and its characteristic villages.