Abbadia San Salvatore

Abbadia di Sant'Antimo





Badia di Coltibuono

Bagno Vignoni

Bolsena Lago





Castellina in Chianti

Castiglione d’Orcia

Castelnuovo Bererdenga

Castiglioncello Bandini

Castiglione della Pescaia


Città di Castello

Cività di Bagnoregio

Gaiole in Chianti

Iris Origo

La Foce




Monte Amiata




Monte Oliveto Maggiore




Parco Naturale della Maremma





Rocca d'Orcia


San Bruzio

San Galgano

San Quirico d'Orcia


Santa Fiora










Val di Chiana

Val d'Orcia





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Walking trails in Tuscany Travel guide for Tuscany


Asciano, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Monteroni d'Arbia, Rapolano Terme, San Giovanni d'Asso, Monterongriffoli, Montelifre, Pava and Chiusure are situated in the surroundings of Buenconvento and are within an hour's drive from Podere Santa Pia, a holiday house in southern Tuscany. The road which leads from Castiglioncello Bandini to Asciano and Buenconvento, passing first through Castello Porrona, Montalcino, the Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore, is breathtaking.

In this particular area of the Siena region, many forts and small hamlets are situated on the sites of ancient Etruscan and Roman settlements, evidence of which can still be seen today
The most ancient archaeological finds in this area (cult and divination objects) date back to when these hills were inhabited by the mythical descendants of the Lidi people. Many local place names, such as Porrona, Tergomeno, Calatine, Percenna, Trequanda, Tordovana, Elatora and Cetinali come from their language. Incredibly, the local pronunciation of the letter ‘C’ also reflects the Etruscan pronunciation of the letter. There are many ancient tombs in the area surrounding Montelifré at Belsedere, Porrona and at S.Stefano a Cennano. The necropolis at Poggio Pinci is only a few kilometres away and there is an ancient footpath (which today is part of the Crete Senese Tourist Footpath Network) which starts at Asciano and joins the Via Etrusca that goes from Chiusi to Roselle, to the sea and south to the towns of Sovrana, Sorano and Saturnia.[1]

Buonconvento is an ancient settlement south of Siena, along the Via Cassia, where the Arbia and Ombrone rivers meet in the heart of the magical hills of the Crete Senesi. The name Buenconvento derives from the Latin bonus conventus, meaning "happy, fortunate community".
The first residential settlements in the area of Buonconvento probably go back to the Etruscan and Roman Ages. Despite this historical data about the foundation of the village, its development starts on the 12th century, when the village already had a great importance as a place where the trading activities took place, promoted this latter by the closeness to the two rivers and to its position on the Via Francigena, one of Europe's major routes in the Middle Ages. The first written reference to the town appears in a document dated 1191 in which the king of France, Filippo Augusto, notes passing through Bon-couvent on his way back from the crusades.
Buonconvento became an even more important strategic town during the period when it was under the rule of Siena in the thirteenth century. In 1289 it was invaded by Sienese Ghibellines and occupied by imperial troops led by Enrico (or Arrigo) VII of Luxembourg. It was here in Buonconvento on the 24th August 1313 that the emperor died – his death signalled the end of the hopes of the Ghibelline forces.
After having been captured for a time by the army of Perugia, Buonconvento was fortified by the Sienese between 1371 and 1385. The old town centre is still surrounded by the splendid walls built in this period to defend the town. Remaining intact for centuries, protected by the moat and the Guelf battlements of the watch walkway, the village underwent great transformations in the 1800s, with the construction of buildings just outside the walls, including the Teatro dei Risorti.

The circuit of strong defense walls, the architectural style of which recalls that of Siena, once enclosed the entire village.
It had no openings other than two gates with thick wooden doors with iron fittings: Porta Senese on the northern side, toward Siena, and Porta Romana on the south, destroyed in 1944 by the retreating Germans.
Inside the walls, the village is crossed from north to south by Via Soccini, the old family whose members included a couple of heretics, who contested a number of church doctrines in the 16th century.


Matteo di Giovanni, Madonna col Bambino e due Angeli, originally in the Chiesa di San Lorenzo a Percenna

Among the most important monuments to see in Buonconvento we point out here the Parrocchiale di San Pietro, the Oratorio di San Sebastiano, the Palazzo Ricci, hosting today the Holy Art Museum of the valley of Arbia.
Inside the walls, the village is crossed from north to south by Via Soccini, the most aristocratic street in Buonconvento, with several palazzi. Palazzo Podestarile, with the 14th-century rectangular civic tower and the two Gothic arches in the façade, the Palazzo Comunale, or Town Hall, with its attractive brick front, and the imposing Palazzo Taja, built entirely in brick, and across from it is Palazzo Borghesi, built in the 14th century, which belonged to an old Sienese family whose coat of arms can be seen on the splendid façade.
The important art works by Sienese artists such as Duccio di Boninsegna, Sano di Pietro, Andrea di Bartoio and Lucca di Tommè that were originally located in the Parrocchiale di San Pietro, are now in the Val d'Arbia Museum of Sacred Art, in the 19th-century Palazzo Ricci-Socini which is further down the Via Soccini.
The museum exhibits Senese paintings, liturgical gold-works and furnishings, sculptures and parchments ranging from the 14th- to the 19th century. A Madonna with Child and Two Angels by Matteo di Giovanni and a Madonna with Child by Duccio da Boninsegna are particularly noteworthy. [1]

But Buonconvento also means Art Nouveau, a typically urban style which for some strange reason took root here as well, bringing the village to the attention of the art world. The Art Nouveau in Buonconvento was anything but provincial, and evolved into a calm, elegant style, that played on materials, colors and decorative effects, on both exteriors and in the decoration of interiors dominated by floral patterns, well represented in the frescoes, stained glass and wrought iron work. Beautiful examples of this style are the previously mentioned Palazzo Ricci-Socini, Palazzo Farnetani on Via Soccini 51, Palazzo Ricci on Via Roma 3, the Grisaldi del Taja nursery school on Via Dante, Palazzina Sensi and Palazzina Castellani Bettarini, on the same street.

Ufficio turistico comunale | via Soccini 18

Museo della Mezzadria Senese |

Weekly market | Local vendors assemble outside Buonconvento’s walls every Saturday (Piazza Antonio Gramsci 8:00 -13:00).
Nearby Montalcino has its market on Fridays.

Buonconvento Restaurants

Agriturismo Pieve Sprenna Restaurant
Pievesprenna, 53022 Buonconvento, 53022 Buonconvento

TNT Pub Pizzeria

Localita Bibbiano, 806157 Buonconvento

Le Antiche Mura
P. Garibaldi 38, Buonconvento

Ristorante Da Mario
Via Soccini, 60, Buonconvento

Osteria la via di mezzo
Via Soccini, 53, Buonconvento

Le Dolcezze
Via Roma, 42, Buonconvento

I Poggioli
Via V. Tassi, 6, 53022 Buonconvento

Ristorante Roma
Via Soccini, 14, 53022 Buonconvento

Il Sorbo Allegro
loc. Armena, 53022 Buonconvento


Pieve di Sant'Innocenza

The parish of Saint Innocenza in Piana is a sacred building near Buonconvento. Mentioned since 1081, it is a fortified structure which still keeps the characteristic elements of the military sienese architecture of the XIII-XIV century; one of its sides is the church, which has been made in fired-brick, like most part of the complex, but with stone-lines in the simple front. It has only a nave with trusses in sight, but it already shows gothic elements in a quadrilateral chapel which ends it, covered with a barrel vault and pointed-arch monophores. On the inside there are traces of a fourteenth-century fresco with Saint Christopher and another fresco, always fragmentary, where there is again the figure of the Blessed Franco da Grotti.

The church of San Lorenzo is a sacred building in Percenna, near Buonconvento. The church is the most ancient place of the Christian devotion in Buonconvento, which has risen, according to the tradition, in the same place where it rose a pagan temple. After several interventions which have deeply changed the original structure, now it shows the internal division in the central nave and in the lateral niches, which is very damaged in the left part for a static subsidence. The architectonic design dates back to the restoration of 1830. On the main altar it is exposed the articulated eighteenth-century processional machine, in wood carved with volutes, gilded and painted with a light blue, which held the canvas by Matteo di Giovanni with the Madonna with Christ Child and the angels, today kept in the Museo d'Arte Sacra della Val d'Arbia. On the left side, in walling, there is the sepulchral grave by Andrea Minucci.

Walking in Tuscany | Via Lauretana Antica
Walking Tour of Buonconvento

Entering from Bibbiano, it is easiest to park at the Coop on the left or to continue on to the Piazza Garibaldi to the right. Other parking must be accessed from the Via Cassia, either immediately in front of the town walls on the Cassia, or turning west at the northwest corner of the walls and driving around the walls to the town’s spare parking lot.

A walking tour of town might begin at the Piazza Matteotti, the site of the now-missing porta Romana and entrance to the central, walled portion of town. Here, the Via Roma becomes the Via Soccini. Shortly on your right is an agenzia di viaggio (travel agent), where you can find a map of Buonconvento that marks its stores and sights. A second travel agency sits in the Piazza Matteotti.

The central part of town is small enough that it is difficult to lose one’s way. Stroll down the main drag in the form of the Via Soccini, passing two restaurants (Osteria da Duccio and da Mario), a cafe (Mimo), and several shops.

Ahead, the Palazzo Podestarile with its civic tower occupies the curved part of the block on your right. The Sienese government built the palazzo in 1385, just after fortifying the town. The facade is typical Sienese medieval and was most recently restored in 1921, boasting gothic arches and twenty four coats of arms of local gentry. The interior lacked space for the city’s growing civic needs and thus was sold to private hands, but the comune maintains the tower.

The actual Palazzo Comunale is just before the Podestarile, at no.32 Via Soccini. The comune bought it from private hands in 1839. Above the balcony is a Borghesi family coat of arms. Also a part of the facade is the date 1860, which commemorates the union of Tuscany with greater Italy under the Savoy monarchy.

Next on your right, at no.18 of the Via Soccini is the Palazzo Ricci Soccini and site of the Museo d’Arte Sacra della Val d’Arbia. One and a half centuries ago, owner Raffaello Ricci restored the eighteenth century palace in the new Liberty style under the guidance of architect Gino Chierici. The facade boasts many characteristic features of the Italian Art Nouveau, exemplified by the contrast in colors of stone, brick, and strips of ceramic tiles in floral motifs that divide the building into horizontal courses. The classical windows on the first floor are ornamented with highly decorative ironworking. The balustrade on the second floor terrace echoes that theme, before the third floor returns to its classical roots. Elements of the Liberty style continue inside on the first and second floors, the staircase, and the bathrooms, reason enough for admission to the museum.

The Museo d’Arte Sacra della Val d’Arbia inside is well worth a visit as it is among the better small art museums in Tuscany, but delightfully free of crowds, an opportunity to view the art unencumbered and in the local context where it was produced. The museum boasts a series of masterpieces by artists of the Sienese school, collected from small churches all around the Val d’Arbia. Among the most precious are a Madonna and Child by Duccio da Buoninsegna and another by Pietro Lorenzetti. One room is dedicated to works of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, representing artists including Bartoleomeo di David and Francesco Vanni. Many works highlight the greatness of the Sienese school in the 1500s, with artists Rutilio Manetti and Bernardino Mei among others.
Open Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday from 10-12, Saturday from 2-4, and Sunday from 9-1.

Further on your right sits somber facade of the eighteenth century Palazzo del Traja at number 8, whose iron balcony rings the corner it makes with the Chiesa dei Santi Pietro e Paolo (church.) The 1103 on the church’s facade might refer to the date of its founding. As a church on the important Via Francigena pilgrimage route, it received many a great work of art, including oeuvres by Duccio and Sano di Pietro. These have all been moved to the nearby art museum for safekeeping. What rests is a fifteenth century table decorated in tempera by Matteo di Giovanni, another by Pietro di Francesco Orioli, and a fresco by Sano di Pietro showing the coronation of the Virgin. The facade as we see it today was restored in a classical style from 1702 to 1705, and decorated in travertine in 1723. The bell tower was restored in the early 1800s.

Across from the Palazzo dei Traja sits the Palazzo Borghesi which dates to the fourteenth century. Legend had it that Emperor Henry VII died here, although subsequent research confirms he breathed his last in the church across the way. Occupying space in the ground floor of he Palazzo is the Oratorio of Saint Sebastian belonging to the historic order, the Contrafraternity of the Misericordia, whose roots in Buonconvento date to 1595, although they officially joined the order in devotion to emergency assistance in 1865. Entrance to their museum at this site, which offers a glimpse into the organizations private space, art collection, and antique emergency response equipment, is free but must be booked in advance: 348/7072500 The Oratorio’s fourteenth century style was restored at the turn of the nineteenth century. Its exceptional acoustics make it host to musical events planned by the Accademia Chigiana.

Continue a few more steps and you reach the porta Senese, the doorway to Siena, and a part of the walls provided by Siena in 1379. One coat of arms represents Siena, the other, Buonconvento. The wooden fittings of the gothic arch are original, untouched until their restoration in 1998. The battlements are in the Geulf style.

Just outside the door is a public garden and fountain, and to the right, the entrance to the Teatro dell’Accademia dei Risorti, which had been a horseshoe shaped theater with two rows of balconies in the classical style of eighteenth century Italy, when it was lost to bombardment in World War II. The newly restored theater was completed in 1976 and hosts special theatrical events and movies. The facing garden, the Monumento al Bersagliere is for soldiers in every war. The sculpture is the work of Sienese artist, Plinio Tammaro.

To continue right, circling the walls from the outside takes you to the doors of the Museo della Mezzadria Senese.

The Museo Etnografico della mezzadria is a quite exceptional museum offering a look at the old tenant farming system of the area. This becomes especially apt when you remember that Borgo Finocchieto refers to a village (borgo) based around the production of fennel (finocchio) whose roots are a staple vegetable to the Italian diet, and whose seeds stud the local salami. The mezzadria system operated based on a contract whereby the proprietor owned fifty percent of the production by peasant farmers living on the land. The system lasted well into the 1950s, when mechanization replaced many a job and droves of people abandoned farms for industrial jobs. The museum offers a video explaining the system, in Italian, but worth watching nonetheless, and various interactive features downstairs, where life size statues of farmers and proprietors tell you about life from their personal points of view. Displays highlight various aspects of the sharecropping life, from the harvest to special feasts and festivals. Upstairs, displays demonstrate the common living quarters of such farmers. This is a unique opportunity to witness what the very inside of Finocchieto might have looked like as few as fifty years ago. Open Thursday / Friday / Saturday / Sunday from 10 to 6.

Back inside the Porta Senese, turn left onto the Via del Sole to continue a tour of town. This road used to be called the Via degli Orti (of gardens) for its spaces devoted to grain, wine, and animals. Ahead is a carefully tended public garden with a well dating to 1857. To the left is the Piazza Arrigo VII (Henry VII), where the comune hosts various musical events and during the sagra, dancing.

San Giovanni d'Asso, Il Castello


San Giovanni d'Asso is located in the heart of the Crete Senesi, characterized by the imposing Medieval castle, home of the Truffle Museum.
Worth visiting are the Romanesque church of San Giovanni Battista and, lower down, the church of San Pietro in Villore (11th - 12th century). Over and above the fine stone of San Giovanni, another notable aspect is the environmental heritage of the localities around the Asso valley a decidedly superb landscape.
Don't miss the hamlet and castle of Monterongriffoli the rural districts of Vergelle , the poetry of Lucignano d'Asso, Montisi with its historic grange and the extraordinary white road of Pieve a Salti.

The church of San Pietro in Villore in San Giovanni d’Asso. has only one nave with semi-circular apse and covering with cross vaults, held up by a transversal arch on semi pilasters. Fruit of a restoration of the XX century is the ribbed belltower. The crypt is divided into 4 small naves of three spans. The front has its superior part in fired-brick, surrounded by a recurrence of bricks disposed as teeth a sow, held up by small corbels. The inferior part is scanned by five small arches; in the central one, wider, is kept the portal in the lunette of which is put a sculptural fragment of the High Middle Age. The small capital of the semi-columns which held up the arches are decorated with geometrical and anthropomorphic motives. Also the apse shows a very rich plastic decoration.



San Pietro in Villore parish church, San Giovanni d'Asso

San Giovanni d'Asso | Il Bosco della Ragnaia

The road from Montalcino to Radicofani runs through San Giovanni d’Asso, a small hamlet nestled comfortably in the hills of this beautiful landscape.
The ancient romanesque church of San Giovanni Battista is near to the castle, while in the lower part of the village lies the most important church in the area, the beautiful San Pietro in Villore, built in the 11th and 12th centuries, and which is now surrounded by many cypresses.
Among the numerous celebrations periodically taking place in San Giovanni d'Asso we remind the Exhibit of the White Truffle held yearly on November, during which it is possible to admire the famous typical white truffles.

Il Bosco della Ragnaia on the outskirts of San Giovanni d’Asso, is a modern garden created by artist and philosopher Sheppard Craige that includes elements of formal spaces, modern art, and wooded areas (boschi).
Links | Images




San Giovanni d'Asso | Il Bosco della Ragnaia

Within the municipal territory of Buonconvento rises the picturesque village of Montisi, with its Chiesa dell'Annunziata, its historical grain tower and the extraordinary dirt road of Pieve a Salti. Here, every year, on the Sunday nearest the 5th of August (the festival of the Madonna delle Nevi, the patron saint of Montisi) the joust Giostra di Simone is held.

Located in a hilltop medieval village in southern Tuscany, the Piccola Accademia di Montisi has been founded to provide a center of inspiration for musicians worldwide who have an interest in the harpsichord, its repertoire and its history.
The Piccola Accademia also offers a series of Summer Concerts introducing established artists and emerging new talents in the historic chapels, churches and monasteries within Montisi and its environs.

Piccola Accademia di Montisi | | Music Festival


Montelifre Castle is also important, while at Pava the historical parish church is significant.
Montelifré, situated on the top of a gently sloping Sienese hill which is itself dominated by the ruins of a castle dating back to the year 1000, rises along the SS38 between Trequanda and Montisi. Montelifré can be reached from Sinalunga traveling throughout the SS38 toward S.Giovanni d' Asso/Torrenieri or from Siena throughout the scenographic route going along Asciano and San Giovanni d'Asso.
During the Medieval period Monteranfredi became a castle, although it was destroyed and rebuilt many times. The fortress was very similar to the fortress at Montalcino which can be seen in the distance.
The castle, a great construction in stone having a triangular shape equipped with high and thick walls, dates back to the 13th century. The entire estate was bought by the Tolomeis (a merchant family from Siena) in 1328. This family suffered great losses when their bank went under in 1348 and they sold the estate and all their belongings after the terrible black death to Betto di Martinozzo, a merchant from Montepulciano.
The castle’s history reflects that of the Martinozzo family who were first connected to the Medici and then to the Lorena family. The hamlet and its surrounding woods still belongs to the same family. They have turned it into an Azienda Agrituristica (an Agricultural Tourist Business) and it’s possible to visit the San Biagio Church, the fortress, a twelfth/thirteenth century tower and the villa,
On the opposite side developed the small village Montelifre, enclosed by town walls gifted with two gates. The whole complex, castle and village, is now a private property, and visible only from the road.

Pava in the Valley of the Asso is surely one of the oldest and most important transit places which pilgrims used in the Etruscan-Roman period. The Pieve di Santa Maria a Pava dates back to the 4th century. Over the centuries, it was repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt, due mostly to the fact that the Val d'Asso and the Val d'Orcia were part of the great struggle between Siena and Florence. From the original structure, there remains a remarkable piece of rock, which can be seen on the outside of the lateral wall of the church.
Behind the church, one can still see a more or less circular foundation of the apse of a later version of the church.
The portal is enriched with a fresco, from the early 14th century, representing the 'Madonna with holy child and two saints'.

The Pieve di Santa Maria a Pava was one of the nineteen parishes which were contended in the Middle Ages between the dioceses of Siena and Arezzo. The front to which we enter by means of a small stairway, leaned against the ancient parsonage is very simple, in travertine ashlars and bricks. The archivolt portal, without a plastic decoration is enriched with a fragmentary frescoed lunette maybe of the XIV century, representing the Madonna with Christ Child and two Saints. The lateral face of the building is in travertine ashlars. Recovered after decades of abandon, it is nowadays a private property.


Pieve di Santa Maria in Pava
Monterongriffoli is a semi-inhabited medieval hamlet a few kilometers down the road from San Giovanni d' Asso near Montalcino, hidden behind the church, with no signposts and only a small carved stone plaque to identify it.



Buenconvento, gate


Monteroni d'Arbia is an agricultural center, crossed by the Via Francigena, 17 km southeast of Siena.
As an agricultural production centre of the ancient Republic of Siena, it preserves the sign of its most important monument in the imposing medieval fortified mill from the beginning of the fourteenth century, of which the original structure is nearly intact, with its brick keep and mill-pond.
In the days of the ancient Sienese Republic, Monteroni d’Arbia was a very important farm. Monteroni today still expresses the vitality of this land, thanks to considerable craft production and the traditional market. The 14th century fortified mill, whose great brick tower makes it easily visible, bears witness to the importance of this place in agricultural production.

The oratory of Barottoli is a sacred building in an anonymous place in Monteroni d’Arbia. It was built to keep an image with the Madonna with Christ Child of the XIV century, which was very venerated by the local people. The painting was on the wall of a ruined house; in 1615began the building of an oratory and the image was removed from the wall and collocated in 1617 on the main altar of the new building, completed in 1620. Today it is a private possessions and it presents a very decorated internal part, with a unique plant and four spans which end with cross vaults. On the two side-altars in stucco with white volutes, there are a copy of the canvas by Rutilio Manetti about “The Temptations of Saint Anthony” and an eighteenth-century painting which portraits Tobiolo and the Angel.

Comune Monteroni d'Arbia


Monteroni d'Arbia



Grancia di Cuna



The Pieve di San Giovanni Battista, at Corsano, dates from before 1031. With a nave and two aisles, it is an example of Romanesque architecture with Pisan and Lombard influences. It houses two canvasses by Alessandro Casolari.

The church of Sts. James and Chrstopher, at Cuna, has remains of 14th century frescoes.
On the road linking Siena and Monteroni another important point for the traveller seeking the genius loci of the Crete is the monumental farm of Cuna, an extraordinary fortified grancia hat was part of Santa Maria della Scala .
The splendid massive structure of Grancia di Cuna is a beautiful example of a medieval fortified grain tower (13th century), originally belonging to the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala which used it as a massive container for grain.

The word grancia, or grange of French derivation, denotes a building with the functions of storehouse and granary. In the middle ages granges were rural buildings situated on the estate of an abbey for the storage of agricultural produce. Initially the Sienese granges had both of these features. They came under the Spedale di S. Maria della Scala of Siena and consisted of buildings for storing the harvests of an extensive property. But in Siena the granges had an additional specific element: they were equipped with considerable fortified structures. They were built, in a word, not only to preserve agricultural produce but also and above all to defend it against military threats. The defensive apparatus consisted of three basic elements, though they are not visible everywhere today: walls, towers and granaries. A wall, the main defensive element, surrounded and protected the buildings. The plan was essentially quadrilateral and adapted to the local morphology.

Taking the Cassia in the direction of Buonconvento you soon come to Lucignano d’Arbia, a fortified village where the Romanesque parish church of San Giovanni Battista frescoed in the 6th century by Arcangelo Salimbeni is well worth a visit. Setting out once more from the Cassia, the road leading to Radi follows another splendid stretch of the Crete and arrives at the magnificent Corsano parish church.

Castelnuovo Tancredi. The ancient castle is composed of a tower dating back to the eleventh century, and the later added Medicean style villa in the sixteenth century. Still later a church was constructed adjacent to the main villa, which was dedicated to the Saint Bartolomeo. On the main altar Lorenzetti dedicated a marvelous painting to the Madonna and her Child which can be admired today in the Buonconvento museum of Sacred Art. The estate has 8 hectares of specialized vineyards. [1]  
Castelnuovo Tancredi
Chiusure on the top of which survived the rearranged rests of an ancient castle which is part of Saint Angelo in Luco. It is situated on a high slope which, in the past, was covered with woods, where the Monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore was erected, into the village of Chiusure, about 1 km far. The antiquity of this settlement is testified by the fact that its church of Saint Angelo in Luco, at the beginning of the VIII century, was the object of a dispute among the bishops of Siena and those of Arezzo. It is also mentioned in the approval bill of the Congregation of the Olivetans, and of their major monastery, where it is said that it was founded in the district of Saint Michele in Luco’s parish. From some ancient sienese memoirs, we know that Antonio di Meo Tolomei bought Chiusure in 1333. It seems superfluous to add that the founder of the Congregation of Monte Oliveto belonged to the same sienese family of Tolomei and that the hillock of Acona, where the first hermitage was erected, was wooded.  
The fortified settlement of Bibbiano, commanding from a hill the Ombrone Valley and the underlying town of Buonconvento, dates back to the year 850. Bibbiano castle is made up of two structures, the keep and the double walled enclosure surrounded by the ditch, running on three of the four sides. The unique gatehouse is finely framed with sandstone ashlars and protected by a great number of arrowslits and loopholes. Facing the inner curtain is still visible the wall walk. The complex is, mainly for its still intact medieval aspect, one of most remarkable of the whole Sienese countryside. Today is private property visible only from the outside.  

The fortified settlement of Bibbiano


Castello Bibbiano, Buonconvento
Castello Bibbiano

The actual fortified village of Murlo, consisting of the imposing bishop's palace and its courtyard, has been expertly restored and is now centred on the magnificient Antiquarium, where the archaeological finds from the greatly significant site of Poggio Civitate are gathered. Palazzo Vescovile was erected on the site of an pre-existing Abbey first Benedettina then Camaldolese. The Duomo is dedicated to S. Giovanno Evangelista. Initially it was the Abbey Church, enlarged and modified from 1300 in the subsequent centuries until the radical intervention of 1936-1945. The interior has three naves on columns and of Roman structure with Gothic influences, and hosts exquisite works of art. Nearby are the ruins of Crevole Castle, whose cleft tower rises up blade-like from the dark green of the holm oaks to cut sharply into the sky.
Near Murlo, Poggio Civitate is the excavation site of an Etruscan patrician residence in the sixth and seventh centuries BC. Largely intact at the time of its unearthing, its architectural detailing illuminates elements of both the Etruscan Orientalizing Period and the Archaic.

Weekly market in Murlo (Casciano di Murlo) is on Thursday 8:00-13:00.
Near Murlo is Vescovado Di Murlo, an important centre that was formed by joining the villages Andica and Tinoni which were still separate at the beginning of the 19th century. In Vescovado the parish church of San Fortunato retains the large altarpiece in the form of a triptych by Benvenuto di Giovanni signed and dated 1475 representing the Madonna enthroned with Child, musician angels and Saints Catherine, Archangel Michael, Blaise and Lucy and above the Benedictory Christ and the Saints Ansano and Lawrence. This is a work of great formal elegance in which the consideration of the new ideas about perspective, derived from Vecchietta is here quite evident.
In the same church there is also the only surviving panel of a missing polyptych by Andrea di Niccolò painted for the parish church of Carli, the Madonna and Child, central panel of a triptych whose side panels representing the Saints are in museums abroad.
In Ancaiano, Guidoccio Cozzarelli had painted an altarpiece with a similar subject (The Madonna and Child with the Saints Sebastian, Bernardino and two Angels), dated 1491.

Weekly market in Vescovado di Murlo is Fortnightly on Monday.
The comune Trequanda comprises the three villages of Trequanda, Petroio and Castelmuzio. Petroio (13th century) is built on a curious circular plan and is one of the best brick castles in the region. A few kilometres to the northeast is the Abbadia a Sicile, a beautiful Italian old village. TTrequanda, a slighter larger village also preserves a good section of its castle. The Romanesque parish Chiesa dei SS. Pietro e Andrea has a brown-and-white chequered stone facade. Inside is a fresco of the Trasfiguration by Sodoma and a triptych by Giovanni di Paolo with Madonna and Child.  

Casa Santa Pia is a holiday house in southern Tuscany.
Buonconvento, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Monteroni d'Arbia, Rapolano Terme, San Giovanni d'Asso, Siena, Sinalunga and Trequanda are situated in the surroundings of Asciano and are within an hour's drive from Podere Santa Pia. The road which leads from Castiglioncello Bandini to Asciano and Buenconvento, passing first through Castello Porrona, Montalcino and the Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore, is breathtaking.
Arbia, Chiusure, Castelnuovo Scalo en Torre a Castello are frazioni of Asciano.
Distances from Podere Santa Pia | Buonconvento 46 km | San Giovanni d'Asso 51 km| Trequanda 62 km | Asciano 64 km | Montalcino 34 km


Enlarge map

[1] The Crete Senesi refers to an area of the Italian region of Tuscany to the south of Siena. It consists of a range of hills and woods among villages and includes the comuni of Asciano, Buonconvento, Monteroni d'Arbia, Rapolano Terme and San Giovanni d'Asso, all within the province of Siena.

Crete senesi are literally ‘Siennese clays’ and the distinctive grey colouration of the soil gives the landscape an appearance often described as lunar. This characteristic clay, known as mattaione, represents the sediments of the Pliocene sea which covered the area between 2.5 and 4.5 million years ago. In the nearby is also the semi-arid area known as Accona Desert. The area suffered extreme depopulation due to plagues in the Middle Ages, and the attendant prolonged lack of cultivation facilitated an almost complete erosion of the topsoil. It was later settled by Sicilian farmers adept to cultivating cereals on less than optimal conditions, and who were able to establish sustainable cultivation of wheat on the Siennese clays.

Tuscany | Le Crete Senesi

Museo d'Arte Sacra della Val d'Arbia

Inaugurated in 1979 into another expositive context, the Museum has been moved into the Palace Ricci Solini, a delicious example of architecture and internal decoration in Liberty style. It was a parish priest from Buonconvento, don Crescenzio Massari, who, in 1926, collected all the works of art and created Museum of Sacred Art of Val d’Arbia, which is richer and more complete than the first one, but with the same purposes of the starting collection: to document the worship and the artistic expression of the valley’s devotion. The collection consists in sacred art-works (paintings, sculptures, textile goldsmitheries) of the territory of Val d’Arbia, to testify the sienese culture from the XIII to the XIX century, with its main protagonists: Duccio, Pietro Lorenzetti, Luca di Tommé, Andrea di Bortolo (XIV century); Sano di Pietro, Matteo di Giovanni, Girolamo di Benvenuto, Pietro di Domenico, Guidoccio Cozzarelli (XV century); the followers of Beccafumi, from Bartolomeo di David to the Brescianino and Riccio (XVI century); Rutilio Manetti, Francesco Vanni, Astolfo Petrazzi, Ventura e Simondio Salimbeni, Francesco Bartolini and Bernardino Mei (XVII century). Very interesting is also the presence of objects used by the laic companies, in particular the so called “stretchers” and the different tabernacles and the small temple created by the main artists of that time.

Arbia Valley Museum of Religious Art | Via Soccini, 17 | Opening time: Tues. to Sat. 10-12 and 15-17, Sun. 10-12 (winter). Tues. to Sat. 10-12 and 16-19, Sun. 10-12 (summer) • closed on Monday.


The Sienese Saints of the Fifteenth Century | Buonconvento, Museo d'Arte Sacra of Arbia Valley
The presence inside the museum in Buonconvento of an altarpiece on which Sano di Pietro has flanked the Virgin and Child with the saints Bernardine and Catherine of Siena offers the occasion to delve more deeply into the topic of these two “new” Sienese fifteenth-century saints.
The Franciscan Bernardino degli Albizzeschi (born in Massa Marittima in 1380, but Sienese by adoption) was one of the most famous preachers of the fifteenth century. After dying “in the odor of sanctity” in L’Aquila in 1444, he was canonized just a few years later, in 1450, to the great joy of the Sienese.
Little more than a decade later, in 1461, the Sienese pope Pius II canonized also the Dominican nun Caterina Benincasa (Siena, 1347-1380), who is celebrated today mainly for having fostered the return of the papacy from Avignon, but in the fifteenth century was greatly venerated by the Dominican order for, among other things, having been given the honor of miraculously receiving the stigmata.
Sano di Pietro’s altarpiece, datable to the 1460s, bears good witness to the “success” of the two new saints, who would soon join the traditional patrons Ansanus, Crescentius, Sabinus, and Victor as the true advocates for the city of Siena.
Bernardine’s popularity resulted in the portrait of this gaunt friar (usually shown with the panel of the monogram of Christ which he would hold up to the crowd during his sermons) becoming a favorite subject for altarpieces, starting immediately after his death and even before his canonization, as demonstrated by numerous works on display in the exhibition and others in museums in and around Siena. Among his most authoritative “iconographers” were Sassetta, Pietro di Giovanni Ambrosi, Sano di Pietro and Vecchietta, who unquestionably knew him personally.

Art in Tuscany | The Sienese School of painting



Hidden secrets in Tuscany | Podere Santa Pia


Monte Cucco wine region
Castiglioncello Bandini
San Qurico d'Orcia
Rocca di Tentennano
Rocca di Tentennano


Cipresses between Montalcino and Pienza
Montalcino Restaurants

      S.Angelo in Colle Restaurants

Castello Banfi La Taverna
Castello di Poggio alle Mura | Poggio Alle Mura, 53024 Poggio alle Mura
Castello di Poggio alle Mura | Poggio Alle Mura, 53024 Poggio alle Mura
Open for Lunch
(January, 30th - December, 8th )
Monday – Saturday
From April 8th till November 4th, open from Monday to Sunday

Re di Macchia
Via Soccorso Saloni 21, Montalcino
Tel: 0577-846116 email:
Closed: Thursday

Taverna del Grappolo Blu
Scale di via Moglio 1, Montalcino
Tel: 0577-847150
Always open

Osteria di Porta al cassero
Via della Libertà 9, Montalcino
Tel: 0577-847196
Closed: Wednesday


Boccon di Vino
Loc. Colombaio Tozzi 201, Montalcino
Tel: 0577-848233
Closed: Tuesday

Il Giglio
Via Soccorso Saloni 5, Montalcino
Tel: 0577-848167 email:
Closed: Tuesday

Le Potazzine - La Vineria
Piazza Garibaldi 8, Montalcino
Tel: 0577-846054
Closed: Monday
(Potazzine is the Italian word for very
colorful and vivacious birds which
inhabit the Tuscan countryside.)

Ristorante Al Giardino
Piazza Cavour 2, Montalcino
Tel: 0577-849076
Closed: Sunday

Ristorante Trattoria L'Angolo
Via Ricasoli 9, Montalcinio
Tel: 0577-848017
Closed: Tuesday

Trattoria Il Pozzo
S. Angelo in Colle, Piazza del Pozzo
Telefono 0577 844015
Nel cuore del borgo medievale di S. Angelo in Colle, dove la Val d'Orcia incontra la Maremma, Franca e Paola Binarelli propongono ogni giorno, in una calorosa atmosfera familiare, i migliori piatti della cucina tipica del territorio.

Ristorante Il Leccio |
S. Angelo in Colle, Via Costa Castellare
Telefono 0577. 844 175

Podere Santa Pia is located 3 km from Castigliocello Bandini, 15 km from Abazziia San 't Antimo and Montalcino, and 1 hour away from the seaside and close to art cities like Siena, Pienza, Montepulciano and San Quirico d'Orcia.

This page uses material from the Wikipedia articles Abbey of Sant'Antimo, Montalcino, published under the GNU Free Documentation License.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Abbey of Sant'Antimo.

Val d'Arbia's trails | A well marked path system taking you through the unpolluted countryside of the Sienese Crete.

Via Lauretana Antica

In this area there are some farms about 4 kilometres from Asciano, along the Via Lauretana Antica, being in a raised position as regards to the surrounding valleys. Turning the eyes southwards, you can enjoy a splendid view over the village of Asciano.
Menchiari (Santa Caterina) is a resort made up of two farmhouses between Vescona and Mucigliani, along the Via Lauretana Antica, between Asciano and Siena. From here you can admire one of the most beautiful landscapes of the Crete and be amazed by the sight of the marriage of the light blue of the small lakes at the bottom of the valley and the green of the field in the springtime.

Mezzavia. The name of this ancient farmhouse in bricks comes from the fact that it rises on a hill exactly in the middle of the Via Lauretana.
Strada bianca di Medane is a country road which, a little after the village of Arbia, going towards Asciano along the Lauretana Antica until Medane. Proceedings on the tops of the hills, it is on a splendid position to admire the landscapes on the Crete and Siena. This road links to another one which is equally interesting for its landscapes and which leads from Monteroni to San Martino in Grancia and Vescona, in front of the castle of San Fabiano.

Strada bianca di Montauto da Lucignano d'Arbia ad Asciano starts a little before Cassia to reach the historic centre of Lucignano d’Arbia, coming from the south, linking the Val d’Arbia with the Ombrone valley and proceeding along the tops of the hills. The road climbs up among curves and slopes until Montauto, a small ancient medieval commune, now turned into a private villa, to then go down among calanques of great landscape-impact until the Valley of Ombrone, some kilometres from Asciano.

Strada del Pecorile. This road, which starts from the ex Porta Massini and leading southwards, along the public gardens, was really important in the past because it linked Asciano and Trequanda, Chiusure and San Giovanni d’ Asso. Its main characteristic is that, some kilometres from the village, it goes on a series of calcareous hills, which are the highest of the area and ,for this reason, they guarantee splendid panoramic foreshortenings.

Nearby the town of Sant'Angelo in Colle
Nearby the town of Sant’Angelo in Colle, 6km from Sant’Antimo, an enchanting well-preserved village on the top of a hill contained in its circle of walls. You can drive there on a dirt road from Sant’Antimo or on a paved road from Montalcino.

Circular walk from Sant'Antimo

There is a hiking trial from Sant'Antimo which takes you up into the woods towards Montalcino.
The trail is well marked - it goes to your right from the main pathway to the church, just before you turn left to go to the church. Both times we were there we walked out along the trail for about 30 minutes, then walked back, but you can walk all the way to Montalcino. You get some lovely views of the church and the valley along the trail.
The Blue Guide also mentions the town of Sant'Angelo in Colle, 6km from Sant'Antimo, as being an "enchanting well-preserved village on the top of a hill ... contained in its circle of walls". You can drive there on a white road (dirt road) from Sant'Antimo or on a paved road from Montalcino.

The Via Francigena in provincia di Siena

The Via Francigena | From Siena to Ponte d'Arbia | 28,5 km


Departure: Siena, Piazza del Campo
Arrival: Ponte D'Arbia, Centro Cresti
Length: 28.5 km
ype of travel: On foot, by mountain bike
Travel time on foot (h: min): 6.20

Getting to the starting point: Empoli-Siena-Grosseto and Siena-Chiusi railway lines, Siena or Monteroni d'Arbia station

The 28.5 km leg of the Via Francigena begins in Siena and takes less than 7 hours. A challenging course along the roads of the Val d'Arbia, with rolling landscapes and views on the skyline of the city of Siena, leading to the Grancia di Cuna, an ancient fortified farm that was owned by the Santa Maria della Scala hospice.
Continuing along the foothills of the Siena Crete, you pass Monteroni d'Arbia and reach Quinciano. A short distance away is the fortified town of Lucignano, with the Romanesque church of San Giovanni Battista. After a stretch along the railway line is the end of this leg in Ponte d'Arbia.

A second itinerary starts in Buonconvento, near the Ponte d'Arbia, and leads to San Quirico d'Orcia, in the heart of the Val d'Oria.

Buonconvento - San-Quirico-d'Orcia | Via Francigena | 17 km


From Buonconvento to Monte Oliveto Maggiore


Start: Buonconvento
Arrival: Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore
Distance: 9 km

This scenic walk leads from Val d'Arbia to the treasure of the Crete: the Abbazia di Monte Oliveto whose isolation is a visual metaphor for the solitude that inspires its monks to retreat from worldly pleasures. It is massive yet camouflaged by the surrounding woods and a grandiose, wide-open landscape


Castello Bibbiano, Buonconvento   BibbianoBuonconventoCastello3   BibbianoBuonconventoCastello2
Castello Bibbiano, Buonconvento  

Castello di Bibbiano, Bibbiano


  Castello di Bibbiano, Bibbiano

Maps and descriptions available in Podere Santa Pia

Kompass map 653 Pienza - Montalcino - Monte Amiata (1:50.000)
Touring Club Italiano (map 8 Toskana, 1:200.000)


Walking in Tuscany | San Quirico d'Orcia, Bagni Vignoni, Castiglione d'Orcia, Rocca d'Orcia, Montalcino, La Foce
Trekking in Tuscany | Rocca d'Orcia

Podere Santa Pia, situated in a particularly scenic valley, which overlooks on the hills around Cinigiano,
up to the Maremma seashore and Monte Christo

The Maremma is a large area in southern Tuscany. It is a perfect microcosm that stretches between the provinces of Livorno and Grosseto. In the Divine Commedy, Dante Alighieri identified its borders from "Cecina to Corneto" (Tarquinia in Lazio). Maremma is unique because of the variety of its territory: blue sea, long beaches, black rock, hills covered with woods, marshes and flat lands, green hills and natural thermal baths.

Wines in Tuscany
In the case of Montalcino, gradual economic decline has recently been reversed by economic growth due to the increasing popularity of the town's famous wine Brunello di Montalcino, made from the sangiovese grosso grapes grown within the comune. The number of producers of the wine has grown from only 11 in the 1960s to more than 200 today, producing some 330,000 cases of the Brunello wine annually. Brunello was the first wine to be awarded Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) status. In addition to Brunello di Montalcino, which must be aged five years prior to release, 6 years for the Riserva, Rosso di Montalcino (DOC), made from sangiovese grosso grapes and aged one year, and a variety of Super Tuscan wines are also produced within the comune, as well as the Moscadello sweet white wines for which it was most famous until the development of the Brunello series.

Brunello di Montalcino is a red Italian wine produced in the vineyards surrounding the town of Montalcino located about 120 km south of Florence in the Tuscany wine region. Brunello, roughly translated as "small dark one" in the local dialect, is the unofficial name of the clone of Sangiovese (also known as Sangiovese Grosso) grown in the Montalcino region. In 1980, the Brunello di Montalcino was awarded the first Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) designation and today is one of Italy's best-known and most expensive wines.
Brunello di Montalcino is made 100% from Sangiovese. Traditionally, the wine goes through an extended maceration period where color and flavor are extracted from the skins. Following fermentation the wine is then aged in oak. Traditionally, the wines are aged 3 years or more "in botte"-large Slavonian oak casks that impart little oak flavor and generally produce more austere wines. Some winemakers will use small French barrique which impart a more pronounced vanilla oak flavor and add a certain fruitiness to the wine. There is a middle ground where the wine is aged in small barrique for a short time and then spends a longer sojourn in the traditional botte.
Most producers will separate their production between a normale and riserva bottling. The normale bottles are released on the market 50 months after harvest and the riserva are released a year afterward. The current aging requirements were established in 1998 and dictate that Brunellos are to be aged in oak for 2 years and at least 4 months in a bottle before release. Winemakers who intentionally stray from these rules and regulations can possibly receive a conviction of commercial fraud accompanied by an imprisonment sentence of up to six years.

The Sangiovese grape is the most widely planted grape in the Montalcino region and is the only permitted grape in the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. The particular clones of Sangiovese are unique to the Montalcino region and have developed in adaption to that area's specific terroir. The altitude and climate of the Montalcino region has provided an area where Sangiovese ripens more fully and consistently than anywhere else in Tuscany. These factors contribute to the body, color, extract and tannins commonly associated with Brunello di Montalcino. In contrast to Chianti, the other famous Sangiovese based wine of Tuscany, Brunello di Montalcinos have a more fleshy texture with common aromas and flavors of blackberry, black cherry, black raspberry, chocolate, leather and violets.
Brunello is often compared with the Pinot noir wines of Burgundy with its smooth tannins and ripe, fruit driven character. The high acidity of the wine allows it to pair well with food, especially grilled meat and game. A large portion of Brunello sold in the United States is purchased in restaurants. The wine has become particularly popular in America with nearly 1 out of every 3 bottles of Brunello di Montalcino being sold in the US. Brunello di Montalcino are known for their ability to age with well made examples from exceptional vintages often showcasing development for several decades. Master of Wine Mary Ewing-Mulligan notes that most Brunellos often need at least 10 years before they shed their youthfulness and start to harmonize their flavors.

In addition to Brunello di Montalcino, producers in the Montalcino region can produce wine under Rosso di Montalcino, Sant'Antimo and Moscadello di Montalcino DOCs as well as the generic Indicazione geografica tipica designation of Toscana IGT.

Member companies of the DOCG Brunello di Montalcino [1]

A     B     C     D         F     G     H     I     J     K     L     M     N     O     P     Q     R     S     T     U     V     W     Z

Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino

The Consortium of the Brunello of Montalcino Wine was founded in 1967, on the morn of its being branded a D.O.C. wine, as a free association between winemakers bent on safeguarding their wine and on accentuating its qualities. The Consortium has favored the onset of a productive fabric made of old and new, small and large winemaking firms alike, brought together by the common interest of respecting nature and aspiring to the highest quality of wine.
The Consortium organizes events in Italy and abroad, as well as participation by winemakers in trade fairs. It manages public relations and the image of Montalcino wines through its press office, and distributes news and information on an official website, with numerous publications in several languages. A business more in the shadows but no less important is the assistance service provided to specialized press and to opinion makers, to which it caters with organized wine tasting and sampling events and tours. The assistance given to members on the standards that govern wine production are just as important.

Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino, Piazza Cavour n. 8, 53024 Montalcino |

La Strada del Vino Montecucco (The wine road of the Montecucco)

Also the wine road of the Montecucco is part of the four Maremman wine roads. It is located in the interior of the Maremma towards the Monte Amiata. Starting from north with Bagno di Petriolo, passing Civitella Marittima until the center of the area with Cinignano. From there it goes towards west, passing the Mountain Montecucco after which is called the wine road, until Campagnatico. The easter part is Monticello, Castel del Piano (Torre dell’Orologio), Seggiano until reaching Ansedonia.

La Strada del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (The wine road of the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano)

The area of the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is situated between the Val d’Orcia (Orcia Valley) and the Val di Chiana (Chiana Valley), borders in the east with Umbria. The road starts in the north with Abbadia towards Montepulciano, passing Cervognano, Acquaviva until S. Albino. Only after two years of storage the wine can be called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. This wine was the first one classified as DOCG and is one of the most important Italian wine types byond the Italian bounds. Already in the 17th century, Francesco Redi called this wine the king of the Tuscan wine. The Rosso di Montepulciano, classified as DOC-wine is not aged for two years in wood barrels and is intended for the immediate consumption.

La Strada del Vino Orcia has its headquarters at the foot of the Fortress to Tentennano of Castiglione d'Orcia. Thirteen municipalities are included in the DOC Orcia Buonconvento, Castiglione d'Orcia, Pienza, Radicofani, San Giovanni d'Asso, San Quirico d'Orcia, Trequanda, Abbadia San Salvatore, Chianciano Terme, Montalcino, San Casciano dei Bagni, Sarteano Torrita di Siena. The common element in the territory on which runs the Wine Route Orcia is the landscape, the most characteristic and charming of Tuscany, perhaps the most beautiful countryside in the world.

Strada del Vino Orcia | Castelnuovo Tancredi | Az.Ag. Castelnuovo Tancredi - 53021 Buonconvento - Siena

The Castelnuovo Tancredi farm estate is situated amongst the rolling hills of the Sienese countryside, confining the world renowned territories of Montalcino and Murlo, in the Val d'Orcia.
The ancient castle is composed of a tower dating back to the eleventh century, and the later added Medicean style villa in the sixteenth century. Still later a church was constructed adjacent to the main villa, which was dedicated to the Saint Bartolomeo. The Church of San Bartolomeo dates back to the XIII century and had a first restoration in 1336 and another one in 1655. On the altar there was a small oval painting which represents the martyrdom of S. Bartolomeo, which is considered the sketch of the canvas painted by Alessandro Casolani for the church of the Carmine in Siena, which is the late new elaboration of the same subject made by a painting of the half of the XVII century; the work is today exposed on the right wall. In the church there was a Madonna with Christ Child which constituted the central part of the polyptic which was ordered for the main altar after the restoration of 1336. It was rediscovered as a work of Pietro Lorenzetti, under the eighteenth-century repainting which had transformed it in a poor devotion work. The tablet is shown today in the Museum in Buenconvento.
The estate Castelnuovo Tancredi has 8 hectares of specialized vineyards which are made up of various grapes and clones such as Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Foglia Tonda, Colorino, Chardonnay and Trebbiano.
Wines: Orcia Rosso L'Assedio DOC, Castelnuovo Tancredi Orcia bianco DOC, L'Ambasciatore Rosso IGT. [read more]


Enlarge map Petroio

Petroio is built on a curious circular plan