The Val d’Orcia area is one of Tuscany’s gems, away from the hustle and bustle of Florence itself. Its breath-taking scenery was designed and developed by the Sienese city-state in the 14th and 15th centuries to create an ideal of peaceful governance and citizenship in harmony with nature. These landscapes became the preferred subject matter of Renaissance artists, creating icons of the age: the vistas are picture-perfect.
But the appeal of Val d’Orcia doesn’t stop there. Its natural wonders are equalled by its fascinating culture and monuments, and together these have earned it the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area’s food and wine are also world-famous.
The rolling hills of Val d’Orcia are interspersed with picturesque towns and villages, each one steeped in its own unique cultural history and offering its own unique delights. The hilltop comune of Montalcino, on the site of an ancient Etruscan settlement, is the birthplace of the bold Brunello wine. By visiting a Montalcino winery you can witness the long-kept secrets of this red wine’s creation, from Sangiovese grape all the way to the final product. And where better to taste Brunello di Montalcino than in Montalcino itself?
San Quirico d’Orcia and Pienza
It is San Quirico d’Orcia’s art and history that make it so special. This beautiful medieval town in the Orcia valley is the site of a magnificent castle and various Romanesque churches, known for housing works by the likes of Giambologna and Andrea della Robbia.
Pienza was once dubbed the ‘Ideal City’, after Pope Pius II rebuilt it in the model of the perfect Renaissance town in the fifteenth century. Today, Pienza still lives up to that sobriquet. Its narrow winding streets will charm you, while the gardens of Palazzo Piccolomini provide views over the whole Val d’Orcia. Pienza is also the ideal spot to try Pecorino Toscano and some of the region’s other cheeses, and to experience such an intoxicating mixture of strong and delicate flavours.
The perfect place to end your journey through Val d’Orcia is Montepulciano: its Vino Nobile is considered by connoisseurs to be one of the finest wines in the world, while film-lovers are thrilled to discover that much of vampire blockbuster New Moon was shot in Montepulciano’s historic town centre.
Val d’Orcia is a wonderful tapestry of towns and landscapes, culture and nature. Why not book Ciao Florence’s tour of the region and take the stress out of navigating from place to place? A knowledgeable guide also accompanies you throughout this all-day tour, providing cultural titbits and practical assistance along the way.