Sinuous hills, cypresses, chapels surrounded by greenery and castles and villages where time seems to have stopped. The Val d’Orcia is a marvel of nature to be discovered slowly along one of the itineraries that wind along one of the most beautiful areas of Tuscany.
Geographically, the Val d’Orcia is a wide valley located in the province of Siena, north of Mount Amiata and close to the border with Umbria. Crossed by the river Orcia which gives it its name, it is famous throughout the world for its bucolic landscapes, for its medieval villages. We have created a useful guide to what to see absolutely in Val d’Orcia.
South of Tuscany, almost on the border with the province of Grosseto, the Val d’Orcia is a large protected natural park which since 2004 has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site: a wonderful land that rises on the slopes of Monte Amiata, famous for cypresses, vineyards and natural thermal springs.
When to go? Every season is the right one to savor the fruits that the earth gives, to admire the kaleidoscope of colors that hide under the thick blanket of morning fog and to enjoy the relaxation of natural lands.
What to see in Val d’Orcia?
Pienza is the ideal Renaissance city created by the humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini, passed into history as Pope Pius II. His project was to create a utopian city that was supposed to embody the principles of the Renaissance. The project was entrusted to the architect Bernardo called Rossellino, under the guidance of the great humanist Leon Battista Alberti. Don’t miss a visit to this wonderful city to see the Cathedral, Piazza Pio II and Palazzo Piccolomini. In the surroundings of Pienza, reach the small and delightful village of Castelmuzio.
Visiting Monticchiello is like taking a trip to a bygone era. The medieval village, immersed in the bucolic landscape, looks like a tower from afar. It is only as you approach the entrance that you can see the remains of the walls and the medieval gate.
Chapel of Vitaleta
If you are looking for a place to photograph, go to this beautiful chapel: one of the most incredible views of the Val d’Orcia, The chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta is located along the provincial road of Chianciano 146 between Pienza and San Quirico d’Orcia.
San Quirico d’Orcia
It is an ancient village of Etruscan origin, immersed in an almost fairytale scenario, made of vineyards and olive groves. The village stands out from the top of the hill for beautiful rocks and medieval churches. San Quirico d’Orcia is located along the Via Francigena.
It is a fraction of San Quirico d’Orcia and is a small town characterized by a large pool in the center of the residential area from which thermal waters flow. The waters of Bagno Vignoni were already known in Etruscan times.
Another beautiful village to visit is Castiglione d’Orcia, which is located on a hill in the middle of the Val d’Orcia, on the slopes of Monte Amiata. Worth a stop especially for the church of St. Mary Magdalene. Don’t miss a walk in Rocca d’Orcia, a tiny hamlet, where the ancient Tower of Tentennano is located: from up there the panorama sweeps across the Val d’Orcia.
Hermitage of the Living
Not too far from Castiglione d’Orcia there is a place known as Eremo del Vivo where you can visit the parish church of San Marcello and the adjoining oratory of San Bartolomeo, two sacred buildings that are located in Vivo d’Orcia (fraction of Castiglione).
Radicofani was an ancient Tuscan fortress, dominated by an immense fortress that for centuries protected the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Papal State. From the top of the Torre della Rocca you can admire the enchanting landscape that sweeps over the Val d’Orcia, on Mount Amiata, on Lake Trasimeno and Bolsena. In Radicofani, don’t miss a visit to the esoteric Bosco Isabella.
Hill of Cypresses
On a road trip along the Val d’Orcia, do not miss another important vantage point: a small hill where you will find a group of cypress trees that dominate a stretch of Cassia, the hill is near Torrenieri.
It certainly owes its fame to Brunello di Montalcino, but trust us if we tell you that Montalcino absolutely deserves a break. Located on a hill overlooking thousands of vineyards, it is characterized by a fortress that dominates the entire village and by the tower of the town hall which is one of the symbols. Don’t miss a visit to the churches and the civic museum.
Abbey of Sant’Antimo
Not too far from Montalcino, don’t miss a visit to the Abbey of Sant’Antimo, one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches in Tuscany. The church dates back to the 12th century and can be reached through a scenic route that passes through olive groves, vineyards and wheat fields.