Crete Senesi, which literally means Siennese Clays, is the name of the area to the south of Siena. This is a great place to go to if you are looking for some peaceful time. This is an area mainly characterised by pure and untouched nature; hills, woods, waters and a semi-desert, breaking up the green landscape that is typical of Tuscany.
As you can see in the picture at the end of the page the clays appeared as a lunar landscape; this area was covered by sea about 2,5 million years ago.
A great amount of picturesque villages can also be found here, however. A good example of such a village would be Asciano, where you will find a variety of historical monuments. But also Buonconvento, Monteroni d'Arbia, Rapolano Terme and San Giovanni d'Asso are worth a visit.
In this area you can find several spa's as well, for some extra relaxation. In other words Crete Senesi is the perfect place to stop your mind just for a while and to forget about the rest of the world for a couple of days.
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The village preserves its historic center in the ancient medieval structure. It's located in the heart of Crete Senesi, close to Desert Accona.
Its origin follows the myth of Romulus and Remus: the legend told that the sons of Remus, Senio and Aschio fled from Rome to escape hatred uncle founder of Rome Romulus, Senio refuging on the banks of Tressa river and creating Siena, and Aschio on the banks of Ombrone river founding Asciano.
In reality Asciano was founded under Siena control to which it remained always faithful, like in the Montaperti historic battle in 1260, when thanks to Asciano, Siena won against Florence.
Merged first with Medici's possession and later to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, it followed the events of the other Tuscan territories.
Places of interest to visit in Asciano are: the Collegiate Church of St. Agatha, the Etruscan Museum, the San Lorenzo church, the Museum of Sacred Art (with works by Lorenzetti "San Michele Arcangelo" and "Madonna col Bambino").
The Abbey was founded in 1313 by Bernardo Tolomei and played an important role during the Renaissance not only as a religious center but also as a place of economic and cultural exchange.
Today, it is still an active religious center run by the Benedictines, and it collects inside, valuable manuscripts and scrolls restored by monks. It's the seat of the "Istituto di restauro del libro" (Book Restoration Institute).
On the road that leads to the Abbey you will find tall cypresses that, standing in the desert of the Crete Senesi, create a spectacular landscape.
Buonconvento is a historical village that lies in the Ombrone valley.
Its history is linked to the history of Siena until the fall of the latter and the annexation to the Medici Grand Duchy in 1554.
It keeps intact the fourteenth century walls, as well as some features of the medieval village, as the "chiasso buio" (literally blind alley), a road paved with medieval arches tunnel.
Attractions: Palace Podestarile with the 25 arms of the old mayors, the Town Hall and Taja Palace, Palazzo Borghese, Palazzo del Glorione, the Oratory of St. Sebastian and the Church of SS. Peter and Paul, the Sacred Art Museum of the Val d'Arbia housed in a 18th century Palazzo Ricci-Socini (which preserves important works, including those of Duccio di Boninsegna).
It's considerated to be one of the most beautiful towns in Italy.
The ancient village on the border of the Crete Senesi was founded in the 13th century, and it was, until 1810, a Podestà of Buonconvento property. It has grown around the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala that built a fortified mill in '300 .
During the war between Florence and Siena, the village was attacked and, consequently, annexed to the Grand Duchy of Florence.
The name was inspired by nearby Mount "Roni", while Arbia is the torrent that flows through the town.
The small village is located between Val di Chiana and Chianti and is famous for its spa waters of the San Giovanni and Ancient Queriolaia Baths. The thermal waters have been known since antiquity, as testified by the ruins of an Imperial Roman bath complex, and are famous for having hosted Giuseppe Garibaldi, who took refuge there to heal the wound in the Battle of Aspromonte.
The structure of the country is affected by the quarries of travertine and marble, which one time helped to increase local economy.
Rapolano waters, which have a temperature of about 39 ° C (37,4F), are sulphurous-bicarbonate-calcium waters.
San Giovanni d'Asso
This small village, inhabited since ancient times, completely surrounds the castle of San Giovanni and is crossed by the River Asso.
The origin of the village dates back to Etruscans, while the development of the city, like testified by the buildings style, was in the Middle Ages.
In the castle of St. John, the highest point of the country, the Museum of truffle was created .
Attractions in San Giovanni d'Asso: Castle of St John, Castle Montisi (on Monte Ghisi), the castles Accarigi and Castelverdelli, the Parish of St. John the Baptist, the Church of San Pietro in Villore.
Events: the carousel of Simon in August, when four horsemen (one for every districts of Montisi) try to hit a target with a spear, the festival of crackles on the first Sunday after Easter.
The white truffle is one of the characteristic flavors of the Crete Senesi, so that in autumn there's a traveling exhibition of white truffle in some countries of Crete: San Giovanni d'Asso, Petroio, Montisi, Asciano, Buonconvento, Monteroni d'Arbia, Serre Rapolano between Crete and the Val d'Orcia.