The Val d’Orcia Artistic Natural and Cultural Park run by municipalities San Quirico d’Orcia, Pienza, Montalcino, Castiglione d’Orcia and Radicofani, obtained the title of “UNESCO Cultural Landscape and World Heritage” on July 2, 2004. (Val d’Orcia Ltd. Tel. and fax 0577 898303).
SAN QUIRICO D'ORCIA
situated along the ancient road Cassia represents one of the medieval and best preserved hamlets of Siena outskirts. Don’t miss to visit the fifteenth century walls decorated with 14 small towers; the magnificent Romanesque Collegiate church (XII century); the Chigi Palace constructed in the second half of XVII century by Cardinal Flavio Chigi; the massive Cappuccini tower of polygonal-shape, the only remnants of original town walls; S. Francesco church called Madonna church as it houses the statue of Madonna Vitaleta made by Andrea della Robbia; the Horti Leonini gardens planted around 1580 by Diomede Leoni and considered to be an authentic “jewel” of an Italian-style garden of the 16th century. In summer period this classically green space hosts the annual sculpture festival “Forms in green” started in 1971. The magnificent small Romanesque Santa Maria Assunta church is known for its single aisle since 1017. The history of San Quirico d’Orcia is closely related to the visits of various important historical figures like the archbishop of Canterbury (in 990) and Frederick I° of Sweden (called Barbarossa) who in 1155 set a camp there to negotiate for his coronation as emperor with ambassadors of Papa Adriano IV. The feast of Barbarossa at San Quirico d’Orcia (on the third Sunday of June) is an event commemorating that historical and dramatic meeting. The olive harvest festival at the first week of December represents the distinguishing peculiarity of the hills of San Quirico d’Orcia in the production of excellent extra virgin olive oil, considered the best in the zone due to the olive grove characteristics. (Tourist Agency of San Quirico d’Orcia 0577 897111).
(Fraction of San Quirico d’Orcia) is located 5 Km away from the road Cassia. Since the Middle ages the thermal centre of Roman origin has enjoyed a great fame among eminent people. Among regular visitors coming to cure in its waters were Papa Pio II Piccolomini, Lorenzo Manifico of the Medici who remained there during 1490, as well as St Catherine from Siena who stayed from 1362 to 1367. The view of Val d’Orcia is dominated by Roman baths and the Mulini Park open to visitors after recent renovation. The waters rise up from the depth of 1000 m at the temperature of 52° and flow into a stone pool. Due to the high concentration of magnesium and calcium sulphate the waters are particularly beneficial for treating disorders of the skin, bones and mucous membranes. (Tourist Agency of Bagno Vignoni 0577 888975).
is located 8 Km from San Quirico d’Orcia and dates back to 714. Such “must visit” sights as the Scodellino falls and the Ermicciolo Park are ideal for walking and picnics besides the seventeenth century Piazza il Vecchietta with a travertine fountain of 1618 and Rocca Aldobrandesca. The Rock d’Orcia (fraction of Castiglione d’Orcia) is a small medieval town located at the feet of the ancient medieval tower with a small folk museum. You should not miss the baths of San Filippo, where thermal waters gush at a temperature from 25° to 52° C and are especially recommended for metabolic disorders, breathing apparatus and skin. The most spectacular destination is the Fosso Bianco with its great chalky incrustations, where you can take a bath under the waterfall or in two natural baths (one cold and one hot). This zone resembles, though in smaller dimensions, the fabulous chalky incrustations of Pamukkale in Turkey or the Mammoth Hot Springs of the American Yellowstone Park. Vivo d’Orcia is also worth visiting with its hermitage of the late Renaissance period constructed by the Camaldonesi monks around the millennium year. (Local Tourism Council of Castiglione d’Orcia 0577 887363).
is situated 15 Km away from San Quirico d’Orcia and is famous for its highly precious wine Brunello DOCG and for honey production. Montalcino region is known for numerous archeological findings of Etruscan and Roman age apart from Abbacy of Sant'Antimo of ’814, one of the most beautiful Roman constructions in Italy, where the monks still perform Gregorian songs. Numerous medieval constructions are scattered around the city, from the Communal Palace to gothic lodge buildings of Piazza del Popolo and at the Cathedral in the neoclassic style constructed over an ancient parish church of 1000. The Episcopal Palace (Palazzo Vescovile) houses such museums as Public, Diocesan and Archeological with the works of important Siena artists of XIII-XVI cc. and the ancient crucifix of Sant’Antimo dating back to the middle of 1100 and the churches of St. Agostino, St. Egidio and San Francesco, all constructed from XIII to XIV cc., apart from the Madonna del Soccorso Sanctuary. You should not miss a folk festival of the thrush recalling ancient rural traditions. (Tourist Office at Montalcino 0577 849321- 0577 849331).
is situated 10 Km away from San Quirico d’Orcia and is named after the Renaissance humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini born in 1405 and later risen to the See of Rome under the name of Pio II in 1458. Pienza, already mentioned in 828, with Pio II became the papal seat and in 1462 the bishop’s seat. Still at present the town of Pienza remains a small architectural jewel and one of the most important artistic towns among Siena provinces. From 1458 Pio II started its restoration assigning the work to the famous architect Bernardo Rossellino who in only three years constructed in the main square the Piccolomini Palace and the Duomo (Cathedral) that houses works of Vecchietto, Matteo di Giovanni and Sano di Pietro. Next to the Duomo there is a Canonic house and the Diocesan museum, hosting the works of il Sodoma school, Flemish tapestries of 1400 and 1500, wooden sculptures of XIV cent. and Pio II’s pluvial, Famous Communal and Bishop’s Palaces also worth a visit. Outside the town walls one can opt for the Romanesque church Pieve di Corsignano and in a few km proceed to Spedaletto castle or the Olivetan monastery of S. Anna in Camprena frescoed by il Sodoma. Pienza is also famous for cheese processing, like the notorious "cacio di Pienza". (Tourist Information Office of Pienza 0578/749071).
28 Km far from San Quiro d’Orcia emerges on top of elevated volcanic cliff of basalt rock. This Etruscan-origin settlement is situated in the heart of the medieval Via Francigena and offers unforgettable panoramic views stretching from the Amiata to the Appennine mountain chain, from the lakes of Bolsena or the Trasimeno to the Tyrrhenian. The dominating point in the view with its powerful mole is the feudal castle built in the Carolingian era. Rocca is steeped in the legend of Ghino di Tacco, who was expelled from Siena, then at the end of XII century became host of the castle and with his sudden raids preyed on the riches and bags of merchants and pilgrims crossing Via Francigena. Dante even quoted him in the canto of Purgatory for his fierce revenge towards Benincasa da Laterina and afterwards for the murder of the uncle and brother. Boccaccio dedicated to him the second novel of the tenth day in “Decameron” in the episode of the Abbot di Cluny, forced to stay at the Ghino’s castle and cured from the stomach-ache only with roasted bread and forced fasting. Finally Ghino confessed to the abbot to have become bandit not for his wickedness but in response to tolerated suffering and thus gained forgiveness. (Tourist Information Office of Radicofani 0578 55684).
(fraction of Pienza) is situated 16 Km from San Quirico d’Orcia and is an enchanting town that gained its importance in the middle ages for its fortresses. Now Monticchiello, apart from artistic treasures spread around the town is an official seat of the Theatre Povero (Tepotratos 0578 755735).
OTHER LOCAL SIGHTS TO VISIT
From San Quirico d’Orcia you can also reach:
situated 24 Km from San Quirico d'Orcia, is the birthplace of the Nobile wine (first Italian wine acknowledged as "D.O.C.G", famous since 790 D.C.). In July the country becomes a theatre of important music manifestation: International Art Festival and on the last week of August there is a folkloristic contest Bravio delle Botti. For the holiday of Assunta, however, at the churchyard of the cathedral, it is held the medieval festival Bruscello that deals with religious, chivalrous arguments and local legends, mainly in hendecasyllable verse in octets accompanied with accordion and violin music.
situated 29 Km from San Quirico d'Orcia is notable for numerous archeological findings dating back to VII A.C. and treatment in numerous hot springs with their therapeutic qualities particularly efficient for disorders of lever, biliary tract, joints and breathing apparatus. Chianciano Terme also hosts the Natural Pietroporciana reserve with its most precious ultra-centennial beechwood, distinguished among Italian biotypes. Inside the reserve one can find an extraordinary and fascinating landscape, the habitat of deers and wild boars, buzzards and wales, apart from numerous arboreal species of brushwood. (Tourist Information Office of Chianciano 0578 636408)
situated 33 Km from San Quirico d'Orcia, is famous for numerous archeological evidence from the Paleolithic to the Bronze and Iron Ages, apart from numerous necropolis of Etruscan origin and other pictorial proofs of XIV and XV centuries. You should visit the Castle and the Public Archeological Museum besides a medieval settlement of Castiglioncello del Trinoro. (Tourist Information Office of Sarteano 0578 265312)
situated 40 Km from San Quirico d'Orcia, represents an enchanting location of medieval origin with the Civic Museum of the Prehistory of Mount Cetona and the Archeological Naturalistic Park of Mount Cetona. (Tourist Office 0578 239143 – Civic Museum of the Prehistory of Mount Cetona 0578 238004)
situated 45 Km from San Quirico d'Orcia. This Etruscan origin town attracts the visitors with the most important Archeological National Museum, Etruscan tombs, the Cathedral Museum and the Porsenna Labyrinth. (Tourist Office 0578 227667) - (Archeological National Museum 0578 20177 Fax 0578 224452 e-mail: email@example.com )
SAN CASCIANO DEI BAGNI
situated 49 Km from San Quirico d'Orcia, is a very beautiful medieval settlement and important thermal centre with numerous hot springs of excellent therapeutic quality. (Tourist Information Office 0578 58141).
45 Km from San Quirico d’Orcia, is the administrative centre of the region; an enchanting city of art, history and culture, also famous for the Palio (traditional horse race) held twice a year (on July 2 and August 16). Siena was founded at the age of Emperor August as the Roman colony and at present is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy.
The Amiata is the highest peak of the Tyrrhenian Apennine as well as one of the few mountains in the world covered with continuous chestnut forests up to 1.200 m and majestic beech trees up to the peak at the height of 1.740 m. The Amiata is attractive in any season of the year. It can offer something for every taste: for nature and adventure lovers, for art and history enthusiasts, for those who admire healthy holidays and just for sport amateurs. Unchanged from the morphological point of view, the Amiata, high and isolated, becomes from December to March the principal skiing district of Tuscany and one of the key landmarks of the Central and Southern Italy. At the slopes of the mountain you can find about fifteen installations and downhill tracks of all difficulty levels spread for 13 km long.