3 days in Valdorcia, to discover and rediscover
Today and in a few days time I propose 2 itineraries for those coming for the first time to the area and also for those who already know this territory. I hope to interest you and help you discover more
By Donatella Cinelli Colombini
To be guided by those who live here is completely different to an itinerary written by a professional guide because the choice of places is dictated by emotions rather than by their historical or artistic value, for this reason the programme is more intimate and maybe more fun.
To the area included in the Parco della Valdorcia -Castiglion d’Orcia, Montalcino, Pienza, Radicofani and San Quirico – I add the Val d’Asso which historically belonged to the same territory, it is the land of the white truffle and the terracotta, San Giovanni d’Asso and Trequanda where Fattoria del Colle is found.
Today’s itinerary is for those who have been in this area many many times. It stays clear of the cult places, those that are more famous.
You need a camera and comfy shoes because you will be walking a lot. It goes without saying that I suggest sleeping at Fattoria del Colle!
ONE DAY WITH THA SPAS
Bagno Vignoni – Parco dei Mulini; the hot thermal waters descend through canals created in the XVI century to source the mills, similar to the Cyclops caves. You need a guide (Parco della Valdorcia +39 0577 898303 tour has a cost) here they will tell you about the places and the history, the 1950’s are closer to medieval times than to our modern technological times.
Coming back from Bagno Vignoni there is a path on the left that goes over the Orcia river. Go by car, par kit at the entrance to the sample. The small village resembles a nativity scene. Here you find the home where Santa Caterina lived, and from here you can reach the rocca di Tentennano where the saint miraculously learnt how to write (10-13/15-18 shut on Wednesdays).
The panorama is incredible and immense. For a snack go to Rocca d’Orcia where the Osteria Perillà (0577 887280) will offer you delicious high quality food, in small rooms which once were the prisons, and there are even some torture instruments still there-
Continue with your car long the Cassia SS2direction Rome, you will find what most consider the most beautiful kilometre of route in Italy. All around there are hills cultivated with crops that seem intact from centuries ago. A crossroads on the right will take you to Bagni di San Filippo. On the hill where the houses are there are woods with a hot and calcareous waterfall, this is called fosso bianco. It is possible to take a dip in small pools as the Etruscans did. You will feel sensations tied to the past that make you feel good also thanks to the contact with nature.
A DAY OF CULTURE AND NATURE
Here we start form San Giovanni d’Asso, the capital of white truffle from the Crete senesi. When the village finishes there is the “Ragnaia di Sheppard” created by the American artist Sheppard Craige as a means of meditation upon man and nature. It will surprise you and make you think.
Continue towards Castelumzio and then follow for Pienza, turning off on the right for Sant’Anna in Camprena a Benedictine convent from the XV century where the film “The English patient” was filmed.
Next visit Pienza, city wanted by Pope Pius II. Just out of the village one finds the workshop owned by Piero Sbarluzzi the last renaissance artisan/artist. Go back to Pienza to visit the museum. Two works of art to be seen: la Madonna di Monticchiello by Ambrogio Lorenzetti and the Piviale di Pio II made in England in the 14th century.
Stop in the Via del bacio, next to the Duomo, it’s always good to kiss!
Visit also the Pieve di Corsignano where the baptismal fount used for the Pope is still existent. Stop off also at Ospedaletto this too is a film set….
The next stop is Vignoni Alto to be reached using the route that goes up from Bagno Vignoni. This is a small hamlet built around the year 1000 from where the panorama is wonderful. A short distance away is Rocca d’Orcia, which is a
castle with its fortifying walls. The Orcia River flows 400 meters further down and resembles an American canyon. Go towards San Quirico d’Orcia and then towards Torrenieri leaving the main road and taking the Provinciale 137 which offers a beautiful panorama and the experience of the worst bends for the car race the MilleMiglia.
Continue forward for San Giovanni d’Asso for a nice stop at the Osteria delle Crete where Donatella the chef is great in preparing dishes based on truffle and then please stop in Montisi to finish the evening
with some bubbles allowing Gianluca from il Barrino and conclude with ice cream by the maestro Tony Cafarelli. Fattoria del Colle is only 8 km away and maybe it could be a good idea to go there for a regenerating stop over.
To taste Orcia wine Fattoria del Colle is an ideal place and offers tours of the winery together with tastings of Leone Rosso (Sangiovese and Merlot ) and Cenerentola (Sangiovese and an old local variety called Foglia Tonda) as well as a trek through he vines.
Montalcino is an obligatory stop 35 km away where Casato Prime Donne offers a very captivating experience regarding Brunello and its history Monday to Friday 9-13/15-18 weekends upon booking). In the cellar there are frescoes that regard the local history and it is also possible to have an itinerant tastings where wines are matched with music (upon booking).You will discover that Brunello does not satisfy only the palate but it also regenerates the spirit.
Other than the classic visit– Montalcino Medieval fortress then followed by a tour of the village centre and a quick excursion to Sant’Antimo – I suggest a tour via the dirt tracks which is slower but more panoramic. You will see the Brunello territory from a different angle, watching he grape pickers at work among the vines. The itinerary begins under Castelnuovo dell’Abate and goes towards Sant’Angelo, a hamlet that
deserves a stop for the beautiful view. Go along the Provincial road to Grosseto until you get to the crossroads on the right for Argiano and continue until the 117 Maremmana going towards the right until Provinciale 103 towards Castiglion del Bosco the splendid Resort belonging to Ferragamo. You will reach the area of the medieval castles and Buonconvento. Here it is worth stopping and to visit inside the medieval walls.
WHAT TO EAT
For those who desire a super typical meal: pinci al sugo or cacio e pepe, zuppa di fagioli, rostinciana di maiale and ossi di morto. The name of pinci changes on the inside area of the Val d’Orcia, they become pici and the typical dressing is duck sauce alternated with pappardelle con sugo bugiardo (pork) and chianina steak, tagliata and peposo (coke in wine) but remember also the snails in sauce.
WHAT TO BUY
Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, Orcia Doc, Olio extra virgin, white truffle from the Crete Senesi November) honey, cold cuts from the medieval breed Cinta Senese, saffron, Pecorino cheese …….. Terracotta objects, majolica, wrought iron objects, olive wood souvenirs….