San Quirico d’Orcia, the Val d’Orcia lounge
10 things to see do taste and buy in San Quirico d’Orcia, the most glamorous, most photographed and most refined small city of art in Tuscany
San Quirico d’Orcia is one of the most beautiful cities of art in Italy (30 km from Fattoria del Colle). This resembles an open air lounge thanks to the beauty of its monuments and the century old history that blend in with the glamour of International VIP visitors who want to own a house here: the last of which is Jennifer Lopez who has been looking for a villa for her holidays.
The village centre dates back to before the year one thousand, along the Via Francigena – from Canterbury to Rome- when this route substituted the Roman Cassia route as it became impracticable because of the Valdichiana bogs. The passage of sovereigns such as Federico Barbarossa, pilgrims, merchants and whole armies. This meant making the fortune of the villages every 20 km along the route. In fact this was just the right distance for those on foot or who had to change horses.
WHAT TO SEE
1) PALAZZO CHIGI: built in the 17th century by a family of Sienese-Roman bankers, to accommodate their relative Pope Alessandro VII who in fact never lived there. Inside the hall have frescoes with mythological subjects. Be careful in entering the decorated rooms, you might enter the Mayor’s office.
2) HORTI LEONINI:a splendid example of Italian style garden created by Diomede Leoni at the end of the 16th century.
3) COLLEGIATE CHURCH OF SAINT QUIRICO AND GIULITTA: built on a parish from the 8th century. Magnificent portals from the end of the 13th century. Inside there are some inlays by Antonio Barilli coming from the Cathedral in Siena. The Altarpiece by Sano Di Pietro and the tomb of Enrico di Nassau who died here in 1451.
4) VIA FRANCIGENA: that runs the whole village with the name of Via Dante. Take note of the houses, towers and palaces on both sides of the road. Near the end, facing south, to the left is the “Spedale” built by the Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala in Siena to welcome pilgrims.
5) CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA ASSUNTA: dating back to the 11th century in Romanesque style.
WHAT TO DO
6) Selfies and photos: in the municipality of San Quirico there are many of the most photographed localities of Italy. The group of cypress trees among the bare hills of the Crete Senesi (between Torrenieri and San Quirico), or the Vitaleta chapel (between San Quirico and Pienza) this is a true travertine masterpiece in the middle of the countryside. And how about the water square in Bagno Vignoni, only medieval thermal spa still preserved?
7) Walking trail along the walls of San Quirico. Along the path there are flowers, and contemporary works of art. Hiking or biking along the panoramic, well signposted, dirt tracks that run through the surrounding countryside.
WHAT TO EAT
8) Snail in sauce are so famous that the inhabitants of San Quirico are called Chiocciolai. The most famous are those cooked in the Il Garibaldi restaurant.
WHAT TO BUY
9) Food Shopping: Doc Orcia wines produced with great manual care from vineyards and small wineries that are right here in this territory. Saffron grown in Valdorcia for centuries, Aglione, giant garlic, which is more easily digested and does not give you bad breath. Cinta Senese cold cuts made with meat from the pig of medieval origins rear bred in the woods. Just one recommendation do not leave the fat, it is the best part.
10) Ceramics – San Quirico was a ceramics centre of great importance in the 17th and 18th century because the Chigi family had had experts come from Pesaro and Urbino. Still today there are artisans who continue this noble tradition.