Extending over 18,500 hectares, the Val d'Orcia Valley is an amazing, fabulous place in central Italy, recognized as one of the most picturesque corners of the planet. No wonder its landscape, preserving the pristine beauty in our days, inspired the Renaissance artists to create magnificent landscape paintings.
The captivating and mesmerizing view of the Val d'Orcia Valley has become a real hallmark of ToscanaTherefore, travelers to Italy should definitely visit the provinces of Siena and Provincia di Grosseto and enjoy the pacific beauties of this renowned region.
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What is a valley?
The cultural landscape of Val d'Orcia is an ideal combination of the uniqueness of natural resources and economic, social activities of a person, which is distinguished by special care and aesthetic perception in contact with the outside world. The life of this corner was conducted under strict and wise state control, monitoring for several centuries the safety and improvement of the region.
The beauty of the Tuscan Valley of Val d'Orcia is made up of many components, full of rich palettes, a variety of shades and shapes, and playing a single symphony in a breathtaking landscape:
- The gentle hills shrouded in lush vegetation;
- The mesmerizing outlines of Mount Amiata;
- Endless golden fields with neat hay rolls;
- Olive and oak groves;
- Planted as if on a line of vineyards;
- Narrow tunnels of slender cypresses;
- Chestnut and beech trees, majestically spreading their dense crowns;
- Medieval settlements piously keeping a long history;
- Colorful villas and impregnable towers, immersed in an atmosphere of complete serenity and tranquility.
Interesting facts from the field of geology and history
The bizarre landscape of the central part of modern Italy began to form about 5 million years ago, after a significant drop in sea level. That is, the Val d'Orcia valley was formed on the site of the clay and sandy bottom of the once water kingdom that existed here.
This was followed by the eruption of the volcanoes of Radicofani and Amiata, the cured lava of which turned into dark rocks (trachytes). The relief of the earth's surface acquired its final shape after the erosion processes that created the channel of the Orcha River, its channels, streams and deep ravines.
- I advise you to read about: volcanoes Etna and Vesuvius.
In the era of antiquity, the Val d'Orcia valley played a huge role, since the famous Cassia Road (Via Cassia) that connected Rome with the northern part of the country passed along it. This route, with a length of 130 km, retained its commercial, political and religious significance until the Middle Ages. The continuous flow of merchants and pilgrims along an important, strategic path enriched the nearby communes and strengthened their position.
In the XIV - XV centuries, the picturesque region fell under the jurisdiction of the city-state of Siena. In the second half of the 16th century, the lands of the Val d'Orcia Valley already belonged to the Florentine Republic, and were used mainly for agricultural purposes. The Renaissance has become for this place a period of formation of an ideal model of harmonious relations between man and nature.
Since the mid-20th century, the Val d'Orcia Valley has experienced a new round of economic and cultural growth, turning into a popular destination for ecotourism lovers. The issue of preserving the aesthetics of the region has become the main and priority for nearby cities, which include:
- Montalcino (Montalcino);
- San Quirico d'Orcia;
- Castiglione d'Orcia (Castiglione d'Orcia);
- Radicofani (Radicofani).
Public organizations were created that popularized the uniqueness of the region, mechanisms were developed to optimize the production and trade of local agricultural products (mainly wine and cheeses).
I advise you to read about: Tuscany wines
How to get there and what to see
The most comfortable way to see the mesmerizing landscapes of the valley is to travel by car or bicycle. Read about rental features at auto.italy4.me.
You can get here with ease from any city in Italy. One of the options is to follow the A1 motorway through Milan, Rome and Naples (Milano - Roma - Napoli), and then you need to take the Chiusi - Chianciano Terme highway. You can also choose the path along the regional highway (Strada Regionale) No. 2, connecting Florence, Siena and Rome (Cassia Firenze - Siena - Roma). You should definitely visit the small medieval cities located on the top of the hills.
Pienza is a tiny commune, with a population of just over 2 thousand people, located among vineyards and olive groves.
The town is famous for the production of unusually delicious sheep cheese, and will appeal to lovers of gastronomic tours. Despite its miniature size, Pienza is of great interest from the point of view of architecture, as it was conceived as an "ideal Renaissance city." In the middle of the 15th century, the great Florentine master Bernardo Rossellino was engaged in space planning and construction work on the construction of the main structures.
The small commune of Montalcino, with a population density of just over 20 people per square kilometer, has truly gained world fame as the capital of winemaking. The local mild climate allows you to grow red Sangiovese (Sangiovese). From this special grape variety several types of noble drink are produced, including Brunello di Montalcino (Brunello di Montalcino) - recognized as one of the highest quality not only in Tuscany, but throughout Italy.
In addition to a large number of enotec shops in Montalcino, there are many shops with original goods of local artisans, as well as ancient architectural monuments that allow you to feel the spirit of the medieval era.
San Quirico d'Orcia
The tiny town of San Quirico d'Orcia was founded by the Etruscans, and covers an area of 42 km2.
It offers its visitors fabulous views of the valley - it is here at dawn that all professional photographers (see the selection) take off their masterpieces. Colorful narrow streets, centuries-old buildings, majestic ancient temples that have retained their pristine appearance, will not leave indifferent connoisseurs of history.
Castiglione d'Orcia is a small commune with a population of about 2.5 thousand people.
This walled city, towering above the beauties of the valley, is located next to the wild forests of Mount Amiata.
The unique medieval town of Radicofani, with a population of just over 1 thousand people, has remained untouched by the destructive power of time.
A powerful fortress, towering at the very top of the hill (about 900 m high), was built here in the 9th century. An unforgettable panoramic view of the valley opens from the observation terrace. Ancient temples made in the Romanesque style create a feeling of immersion in the atmosphere of a distant, centuries-old history.
Watch the video of Radicofani from the drone:
Where to stay - hotels and country houses
I recommend staying in the Val d'Orcia Valley at farmhouses, traveling by car - this type of holiday is very popular in Italy. By a special filter link, I selected for you the best accommodation options for tourists, more than 200 of them.
In addition to those mentioned above, I will cite the options I liked:
B&B Porta Castellana
Judging by the reviews, in the B&B Porta Castellana in the town of Montalcino, until now there have not been Russian-speaking tourists.
It’s time to correct this misunderstanding! Divine views, invaluable advice from the host on local restaurants and attractions. In summer, breakfast is served in the garden, and in winter it is served directly to your room.
Villa La Palazzetta
Offering an outdoor pool and valley views, La Palazzetta is located in Castiglione d'Orcia. An ideal place for a relaxing and secluded vacation.
Hotel Osteria Dell'Orcia
Hotel Osteria Dell'Orcia, a 4-star hotel with restaurant, is located next to the Via Francigena historic road, which served as a pilgrimage route.
The hotel is lonely on a hill with a pool and all the amenities you need. If you are looking for a balance between maximum comfort and unity with nature - be sure to consider this option. If heaven exists, then it should look like this place.
The à la carte restaurant with traditional stone walls, run by chef Eliana, offers Tuscan cuisine and an extensive wine list, including Brunello and Nobile di Montepulciano wines.
I liked, for example, the Podere Lamino farm next to Pienza.
Ideal for family or group of friends up to 8 people. 4 bedrooms and as many bathrooms, pool. For independent travelers I recommend this option.
In the comments to the article, I will be glad to answer your questions about choosing accommodation for your vacation in the Val d Orcha Valley, as well as read your reviews about this unique place.