- Travel tips
- 12 June 2022
Val d’Orcia tour for a unique experience of Tuscany
When a tourist thinks of Tuscany, generally, among the first things that come to mind are the cities of art and nature. Yes, nature in its most delightful forms, such as the narrow streets among the cypresses, the outdoor picnics and the tastings of fine wines among the vineyards.
If you want to experience the myth of Tuscany in all its aspects, Val d’Orcia is the ideal place. It is a peaceful area, surrounded by greenery, where everything seems perfect. Villages of a bygone era that blend into the rolling hills with fascinating colors. If you are looking for a holiday dedicated to relaxation, nature and good food in the midst of picturesque villages, then Val d’Orcia is the place for you.
Siena, city of art and the gateway to Val d’Orcia from the North
Siena is a city of art with one of the most beautiful “piazzas” in Italy. You can start your tour towards the Val d’Orcia right from here. Piazza del Campo, the square where the Palio di Siena (horse race) takes place will surprise you with its size and architecture. The square is dominated by the Torre del Mangia, on which you can climb up the stairs to enjoy the view of the square and the city from above.
Another landmark is the Cathedral of Siena. Its architecture is considered superb and you can find famous paintings inside. You can fill the day wandering through the many streets of the city between shopping and panoramic views.
Pienza, a small city at the footsteps of the film “Gladiator”
If you are looking for a logistical point to stay in Val d’Orcia, I recommend that you look around the village of Pienza. In fact, Pienza is located in the heart of Val d’Orcia halfway between the more famous towns such as Montalcino or Montepulciano and in my opinion, the surrounding area offers the best views of the Sienese hills.
I stayed at the “Il Casalino” farmhouse on the slopes of the town. I suggest this type of accommodation with gardens to enjoy the landscape and be in direct contact with nature.
In Pienza you will find many viewpoints, starting with the view from the city walls itself. The center is very nice with a whole series of small handicraft shops and local culinary specialties. Pienza is famous above all for its pecorino cheese.
You can take a pleasant walk starting from the Romanesque church (located a little lower than the historic center) and go down among the famous fields where some scenes of the film “The Gladiator” were shot.
Montalcino or Montepulciano, the dilemma of Brunello or Nobile wine
If you are a wine lover, then Val d’Orcia is a real paradise. Here, world-renowned quality wines are produced, such as Brunello di Montalcino and Nobile di Montepulciano.
I recommend that you take some time to enjoy a tasting of the local wines. I tried it at the “Corte Pavone” winery adjacent to Montalcino. The entrance is majestic and all to be photographed thanks to its long tree-lined avenue that leads to the cellar. The surrounding vineyards make the place truly pleasant and relaxing. Here I tried the delicious Brunello risotto.
Montepulciano, in my opinion, has a more picturesque old town. With a few Euros you can climb the Torre del Palazzo Comunale for a completely different view of its main square; on sunny days, the horizon reaches as far as Siena and Perugia.
To eat an excellent pizza, I recommend the “Re al Quadrato” pizzeria which is located in a corner adjacent to the main square.
Drive on country roads among cypresses and surrounded by breathtaking views
Val d’Orcia seems so perfect because everything is well cared for and tidy. The colors of the hills are incredible and there is nothing out of place.
One of the activities that fascinated me the most was driving through the many country roads (the gravel is well placed and smooth). Although the main cities are connected by asphalt roads, there are many unpaved roads that are also marked by GPS navigators. The view is sensational: you can drive your car in the middle of the green, narrow streets full of cypresses and with animals crossing the road.
There is no shortage of stops to take pictures or to enjoy nature, such as the “Cipressi Ring” or the view of the Chapel of Madonna Vitaleta. You can park your car on the side of the road and get off to take a stroll among sunflowers in the nature with colors full of life.
Val d’Orcia offers picnic, bike or vintage car experiences between the various locations
There are many other picturesque villages such as San Quirico d’Orcia, Bagno Vignoni (famous for its thermal waters) or Monticchiello. Each corner is characteristic and in direct contact with nature. And since it is nature that reigns in Val d’Orcia, there is no shortage of experiences in the midst of greenery.
The same country roads are ideal for cycling outings or simple walks. You can organize a well-defined route to spend a carefree day. Having a picnic in these parts is a must: many farmhouses give you a picnic basket filled with food and a bottle of wine.
Do you want to live the Italian myth to the fullest? There is also the possibility of renting a historic car such as the legendary Fiat 500 or similar to feel as if you are living in another era.
Val d’Orcia can be considered as “the living room” of Tuscany for how graceful and elegant it is. A trip to these parts, believe me, will surprise you.
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