Val d’Orcia, also written as Valdorcia, is located south of Crete and extends from the hills south of Siena to Monte Amiata. It comprises grain fields, carefully-cultivated hills, streams and several medieval towns and villages such as Pienza, which was completely rebuilt in the mid 15th century, Montalcino, a hill town well-known for its red Brunello wine and Radicofani.
These municipalities, more Castiglione d'Orcia and San Quirico d'Orcia constitute the "Parco artistico, naturale e culturale della Val d'Orcia" (artistic, natural and cultural Park of the Val d'Orcia).
This area has become famous for the absolute beauty of its landscapes. This could be seen in the many movies that have been filmed here. Just to name a few: The English patient, the Gladiator, Under The Tuscan Sun and Romeo and Juliet are all movies that made use of the beautiful Tuscan scenery in Val d'Orcia. In 2004 Val d'Orcia was even added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
There are several bike or walk routes to be followed, to admire the beautiful landscape, but also to see the several churches of the area such as the Church of St Anna or the Church of St Antimo.
Book your accommodation, choosing between hotel, B&B, residence, farmhouse in Val d'Orcia!
We suggest to visit:
Pienza is a Renaissance town, famous for its design.
The works which completely transfigurated Pienza in 15th century were wanted by the most famous Pienza inhabitant: Enea Silvio Piccolomini, elevated to Pope Pius II in 1458. He wanted the ancient Castello di Corsignano as a Papal residence, changing it and Pienza in Renaissance style, inspired to a model of "ideal city" and to an utopia of ideal living and governing, where people could live in peace, in a balance of man and nature.
The renovation was made under the supervision of Bernardo Rossellino and Leon Battista Alberti.
To visit in Pienza: Palazzo Piccolomini, the Duomo (Cattedrale dell'Assunta) which houses several Sienese Renaissance artists paintings, Palazzo Borgia, Palazzo Comunale.
How to reach Pienza: from Siena take direction Monteroni - Buonconvento. After Buonconvento, take direction San Quirico d' Orcia and in San Quirico follow for Pienza.
Monticchiello - the town of Poor Theatre
Monticchiello is a small town in the heart of Val d'Orcia, near Pienza.
The medieval center is still visible in many remains of fortifications, that represent real symbols of its most flourishing period, under the Republic of Siena: the walls and towers, the main entrance to the city, the fortress, the twelfth-century Church of St. Leonard and Christopher with frescoes belonging to the fourteenth and fifteenth century.
The center lost its strategic importance after the fall of the Sienese Republic and the annexation to the Republic of Florence.
Today Monticchiello is famous for its "Poor Theatre" (Teatro Povero), a manifestation of street theater designed and developed entirely by locals, who deal with the writing of stories based on the life of the village and the history of Monticchiello, the creation of sets and composition of music. Such plays are then performed by the inhabitants themselves.
The shows take place from mid July to mid August, every evening except on Monday.
For more information: http://www.teatropovero.it/
Montalcino is known all around the world, especially thanks to its wine, the famous "Brunello di Montalcino".
The town, which takes its name from the many oaks (Montalcino = mountain of oaks) widespread in the area and represented in the coat of arms, is located between the Crete Senesi and the Val d'Orcia, close to Pienza and Monte Amiata.
Read more about Montalcino.
The ancient village situated in the north of Val d'Orcia has Etruscan origins. Possession of Siena since 1256 has kept intact its medieval origins.
There you can admire beautiful Renaissance buildings, medieval walls, the Collegiate Church of Saints Quirico and Julietta, the beautiful Park Leonini gardens (Horti Leonini).
A suggestion to visit Val d'Orcia: TRENO NATURA - the Val d'Orcia tourist rail
from the official website:
"The railway departs from Asciano station and covers two kms before it runs througn big valleys with bold viaducts and galleries. On the right a striking view of the outstanding gullies around the Monte Oliveto Maggiore Abbey opens to your eyes.
By Trequanda station the line enters the Asso valley. The train runs through sweet hills whose colours recalls the Siena clay and reaches the town San Giovanni d'Asso overlooked by the Middle Age Castle.
Still plunged in this amazing landscaspe, the line now approaches the monumental Torrenieri-Montalcino station which was built in 1865; beyond it the stretch goes through cultivated fields and comes closer to the Asso stream.
The shape of Montalcino stands out in the distance on the right side of the railway and on its feet green valleys stretch covered by wineyards which give birth to the esteemed wine Brunello. The herds aren't bothered by the train running and browse peacefully in the meadows. Sometimes some wildlife specimen even show up on the sides of the line such us pheasants, hares, foxes, wild pigs and fallow deer.
After passing the Casalta gallery, the line enters the valley Val d'Orcia and arrives in the little town Monte Amiata Scalo.
It then approches the stony bed of the river and they almost overlap. For a short track you can discern on the right the village Castelnuovo dell'Abate which arose near the old Abbey of Sant'Antimo, while on the left the mountain dominates and you can perceive the soft contours of the villages lying on its slopes.
The valley widens out. Here the railway runs through the wineyards and orchards of Villa Banfi and then arrives in Sant'Angelo-Cinigiano station. The small town Sant'Angelo Scalo has arisen around this station.
Treno Natura near Lucignano d'Arbia (picture by Benedetto Sabatini) The train keeps on running along the Orcia valley heading for the Maremma region, it passes under the Poggio le Mura Castle where the glas museum has its seat, crosses the Ombrone river and approches Monte Antico station.
300 meters ahead the Orcia river ends its run which started many kilometers before between Radicofani Rock and the Cetona Mountain. Its clear waters join those of the Ombrone river and flow together slowly to the sea.
Our line meets the one coming from Siena through Buonconvento and it then joins the Tirrenica Railway under the Middle Age village Montepescali".
Italian text by Stefano Maggi