Discovering Val d’Orcia on a Tuscany Tour
When in Tuscany do not disregard to experience a tour around the beautiful region of Val d’Orcia. There, you will be able to appreciate that the amazing medieval castles, sunny rolling hills, isolated hilltop towns, charming farmhouses and isolated rural homes, avenues of cypresses, rows of vineyards, olive groves, and golden wheat fields which are just some of the elements of the fantastic and harmonious landscapes of this beautiful region.
Crossed by the Orcia River, from which the valley derives its name, this wonderful region in southern Tuscany stretches along the provinces of Siena and Grosseto. The area is now protected as a natural and cultural park, and it has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 2004. Beautiful nature is the actual absolute protagonist in Val d’Orcia, with many different colors according to the season. There are few other places that are able to impress the traveler so deeply. It is almost a surreal, somewhat suspended land, which is home to the most precious and appreciated Italian wines. Without doubt, no Tuscany wine tour would be complete without visiting the local wineries. The impressive views of Val d’Orcia, which inspired so many Renaissance painters, is dotted with many little villages, castles, abbeys and hamlets, each telling a fascinating ancient history.
Time here can still pass slowly and you can enjoy every second of it. You’ll discover villages like Pienza, a real jewel known as the “Ideal City”: a unique Renaissance monument designed by the great humanist Pope Pius II, with its narrow winding streets and the beautiful Palazzo Piccolomini. And then you’ll find Castiglion d’Orcia with its fortress, Abbadia S. Salvatore and its ancient Benedictine Abbey, Radicofani standing high on a cliff top with its imposing castle tower and the walled medieval city of Montalcino, dominated by the 14th century fortress offering breathtaking views all over the valley. East of Pienza you will then be charmed by the harmonious renaissance hilltop town of Montepulciano.
After a day visiting museums, castles and ancient abbeys, you can relax in one of the region’s many thermal baths, such as the ones in Bagno Vignoni or in Bagni di San Filippo. Bagno Vignoni is highly recommended: you’ll find an absolutely unique tiny hamlet with a series of ancient buildings all surrounding the central Renaissance swimming pool with its beautiful arcades! It is perfect for a relaxing vacation, far from the crowds!
This region is very rich in high quality local products such as the “pecorino” cheese (a typical cheese made with sheep’s milk) of Pienza, the genuine olive oil, the gorgeous wine resulting from a long and ancient tradition, saffron, mushrooms, chestnuts, truffles, game and a lot of other specialties.
Definitely, a vacation in Tuscany is a special journey between sweet tastes and marvellous panoramas that you will never forget. Some of the most beautiful photos you see of Tuscany come from this paradise!