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Saturday 13 April 2024
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Sapori Tipici Toscani
Sapori Tipici Toscani
Sapori Tipici Toscani
Sapori Tipici Toscani

The Val d’Orcia and Its Main Towns

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The fascinating area of Tuscany known as Val d’Orcia is a land rich in flavours and colours.

Frequently painted by artists of the Senese School during the Renaissance, the Val d’Orcia has been a favourite haunt for European travellers through the centuries and has been described in the works of many Italian and international writers.

The river Orcia, a tributary of the river Ombrone, has given its name to this region of Tuscany, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. The surreal landscape is a popular location for adverts and films. Although inhabited since Etruscan times, the Val d’Orcia is rich in Medieval and Renaissance architecture.

Those who intend to explore this region should begin at San Quirico d’Orcia, an ancient town that stands along what was once the Via Francigena, the route pilgrims would take on their way from Siena to Rome.

The Medieval old town of San Quirico has survived untouched, with the magnificent Romanesque Collegiata of St Quirico and St Giuditta, erected between the 12th and 13th century. The nearby Medieval hamlet of Rocca d’Orcia is also well worth a visit and commands stunning views over the valley below. The 12th century Rocca di Tentennano fortress, also known as Rocca di Tintinnano, once belonged to the Tignosi family and today functions as an exhibition centre.

Not far from here is Pienza, a small town planning gem designed by Bernardo Rossellino for the Piccolomini Pope Pius II. The unusual, trapezoid-shaped main square is lined with fine palazzi such as Palazzo Borgia and Palazzo Piccolomini. The Cathedral also looks onto the main square.

Famed for its popular theatre, Monticchiello is still surrounded by its 13th century fortifications, while Bagno Vignoni is remarkable for its square that contains the thermal waters that have attracted so many illustrious visitors through the centuries, from St Catherine of Siena to Lorenzo Il Magnifico. Near Bagno Vignoni, the Parco dei Mulini tour of old mills is well worth a try.

Known internationally for its prized wine, Montalcino was originally built by the Senese. Its magnificent fortress is today open to the public, who can come here and sip Brunello and eat cheese as they walk along the ramparts.

Castiglion d’Orcia, which marks the boundary between the Val d’Orcia and the woodlands of Monte Amiata, has retained its original fortified citadel appearance and is dominated by the remains of the Rocca Aldobrandesca. It produces a particularly prized extra virgin olive oil.

From here, the Medieval village of Vivo d’Orcia, which stands by the river Vivo, is within easy reach. The landscape here is rich in water, which runs into a number of falls. The magnificent 16th century villa owned by the Counts Cervini was initially a Camaldolese monastery.

Campiglia d’Orcia is also worth visiting, along with the Visconti palazzo known as Campigliola. The 14th century castle of Ripa d’Orcia is still remarkably well preserved.



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

  Transport in town
Map of Hotels in Siena 
Town Map Siena 

  Transport out of town
Train services 

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

Reservation Services Siena 
Last Minute Siena 

  Where to eat and drink
Disco Dancing 
Pubs & Wine Bar 

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 

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
Typical Tuscan flavours 
Oleum Evo online selling 
Sapori Tipici Italiani buy online now 
il Prosciutto Cotto