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Saturday 21 October 2017
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The Crete Senesi

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The area to the south east of Siena, with its unique and at times lunar landscape, is known as the Crete Senesi.

The road that leads from Siena to Montalcino crosses the heart of the Crete and is among the most beautiful sections of countryside in Italy.

As the name implies, this terrain is particularly rich in clay. The landscape is made up of soft, rolling hills and winding roads, with here and there white, dune-like hillocks that give an almost other-worldly feel to the panorama. Those who first visit this region will be struck by its unreal quality and by the extraordinary changes that come over the landscape at different times of day and season, ranging from bright orange at sunset to grey.

The Crete Senesi abound in Medieval hamlets, churches, castles and fortresses, as well as many farms that indicate the strong peasant traditions of this area. Inhabited since the Etruscans, the town of Asciano is among the area’s loveliest hamlets and stands at a crossroads between a number of ancient roads such as the Via Lauretana, the Via di Rapolano and the Monte Sante Marie dirt road.

Sections of the fortifications are still standing and the interior of Asciano is a mesh of narrow Medieval streets and ancient palazzi. The Basilica of Sant’Agata contains works by Signorelli and Sodoma, while the gothic Church of San Bernardino houses the Museo Etrusco. Not far from Asciano, the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore – founded originally by Bernardo Tolomei – is one of the most important monastic complexes of the entire Siena area.

The Crete Senesi are known for a number of prized agricultural products. The countryside here is ideal for grazing or for growing sunflowers, grain and vines. The legendary Brunello di Montalcino is produced in this area and the sheep milk of Asciano, which is milked from sheep that feed on the scented bushes of the Crete, is used to produce a unique brand of pecorino cheese. The area around San Giovanni d’Asso, which is the oldest hamlet in the entire Crete region, produces black truffles as well as the sought-after and costly white version. A truffle market fair is in fact held here in November and the basements of the ancient castle house Italy’s first Museo del Tartufo truffle museum.

Among the area’s other typical products are the Chiusure artichokes and Montalcino honey. Montalcino is also known for its grappa made from Brunello grapes and in recent years the Crete olive oil has increased both in quality and quantity.

All the area’s produce can be found at the Mercatino delle Crete Senesi, which is held in Asciano every second Sunday of the month and also features local crafts.

The area around Serre di Rapolano also has a number of travertine marble quarries. The first official mention of these quarries dates back to 1597, when the quarries are listed as having supplied the raw materials for the building of the Church of Santa Maria in Provenzano, in Siena. The same quarries later supplied travertine for the construction of the Church of San Biagio in Montepulciano and for the façade and bell tower of the Cathedral of Pienza.


 

All'inizio

  General information
Town map 
Siena in the Renaissance 
Siena in the Middle Ages 
Siena in Antiquity 

  Transport in town
Town Map Siena 

  Transport out of town
Train services 

  Where to Stay
Historical Residences 
Hotels 
Farm Holidays and Country Houses  
Residence, Apartments 
Bed & Breakfasts 

  OFFERS & LAST MINUTE
Reservation Services Siena 
Last Minute Siena 

  Where to eat and drink
Disco Dancing 
Restaurants 
Pubs & Wine Bar 

  Education
Siena University 
University for Foreigners 

  Art and monuments
Palazzo Piccolomini and Palazzo delle Papesse 
Palazzo Chigi-Saracini 
Palazzo d’Elci degli Alessi 
Loggia della Mercanzia 
Palazzo Sansedoni 
Palazzo Chigi-Zondadari 
Fonte Gaia fountain 
Carthusian Monastery of Pontignano  
Forte di Santa Barbara 

  Art and religion
Church of Sant’Agostino 
The Duomo – The Cathedral of the Assunta 
Church of the Osservanza  
The Oratory of San Bernardino 
Church of San Francesco 
Short Biography of St Catherine of Siena  
St Catherine Sanctuary 
Church of S. Niccolò al Carmine 

  Museums and galleries
The Museo Civico 
Bologna-Buonsignori museum 
Accademia dei Fisiocritici 
I Musei Senesi 

  Art and tourist attractions
Cappella di Piazza 
The Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia 
Piazza del Campo 
The Montagnola Senese and the Fortified Village of Sovicille 
The Castles of Belcaro and Quattro Torri 

  The Palio of Siena
The Origins 
The July and August Palio 
The Contrade 
The Days of the Palio 
The Drappellone 
The Eve of the Palio 
The Corteo Storico Procession 
The Race 
The Patron Saint and Oratory of Each Contrada 
Weekly Appointments in each Contrada from April onwards 

  Sightseeing
Via di Città (formerly Via Galgaria), Siena’s Most Elegant Street 
Croce del Travaglio Place 
From Piazza del Campo to the Duomo Along Via di Città 
The Curves of Piazza del Campo 
Costarella dei Barbieri street 
Borgo d’Ovile 
The Terzo of Camollia – main streets 
Casato di Sopra e Casato di Sotto 
Terzo di San Martino district  
The Terzo di Città District - Via Stalloreggi, Via San Quirico 
The Terzo di Città District – The Pinacoteca Nazionale 

  What to see & do
Wedding in Siena 
Golf courses in Siena and Tuscany 
Wedding in Tuscany - Siena area 
San Casciano dei Bagni 
Chianciano Terme 
Bagni San Filippo 
Bagno Vignoni 
Rapolano Terme - Baths of San Giovanni and Baths of the Antica Querciolaia 
The Countryside around Siena and its Thermal Water Springs 

  Monte Amiata
Monte Amiata - nature tourism the year round 
SkiPass Monte Amiata 
WebCam sul Monte Amiata 
Meteo Monte Amiata 

  Specials - Out of town
Gift Ideas for traveling 
The Val d’Orcia and Its Main Towns 
Pienza - the old town centre 
Montepulciano - the old town centre 
San Quirico d’Orcia - the old town centre 
Montalcino and the Land of Brunello 
The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore and the Crete 
The Crete Senesi 
Castellina in Chianti and the Via Chiantigiana Towards Siena 
Siena and Southern Chianti - from the Castle of Montalto to the Castle of Brolio and on to the Castle of Meleto 
The Chianti Hills - Monte Calvo, Monte Luco and Monte San Michele 
Cortona and the Valdichiana 
San Gimignano - The old town centre and its major sights 
The Val d’Elsa - Monteriggioni and Colle di Val d’Elsa 
Along the Old Via Francigena 

  Typical products
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