Abbadia San Salvatore

Abbey of Sant'Antimo




Archipelago Toscano




Badia di Coltibuono

Bagni San Filippo

Bagno Vignoni

Barberino Val d'Elsa


Bolsena Lake


Brunello di Montalcino




Castel del Piano



Castellina in Chianti


Castelnuovo Bererdenga

Castiglioncello Bandini

Castiglione della Pescaia

Castiglione d'Orcia

Castiglion Fiorentino



Chinaciano Terme




Città di Castello

CivitÀ di Bagnoregio

Colle Val d'Elsa


Crete Senesi

Diaccia Botrona

Isola d'Elba



Gaiole in Chianti



Greve in Chianti


Lago Trasimeno

La Foce



Massa Marittima

Montagnola Senese


Monte Amiata

Monte Argentario





Monte Oliveto Maggiore








Parco Naturale della Maremma







Radda in Chianti



San Bruzio

San Casciano dei Bagni

San Galgano

San Gimignano

San Giovanni d'Asso

San Quirico d'Orcia


Santa Fiora














Tavernelle Val di Pesa

Torrita di Siena




Val d'Elsa

Val di Merse

Val d'Orcia

Valle d'Ombrone




Walking in Tuscany

Pienza [°]

album Surroundings


Pienza, situated in the province of Siena, in the Val d'Orcia between the towns of Montepulciano and Montalcino, is the 'touchstone' of Renaissance urbanism.
Pienza was rebuilt from a village called Corsignano, which was the birthplace of Enea Silvio Piccolomini, a Renaissance humanist who later became Pope Pius II. It has been designated as part of the world-wide heritage of humanity by UNESCO.

In 1458 Enea Silvio Piccolomini decided to transform his childhood home into a symbol of the Italian Renaissance. In three years, from 1459 to 1462, the town reborn as Pienza witnessed the birth of several landmark works of architecture. The embellishment project of the ancient village was assigned to Bernardo Gambarelli, called the Rossellino, whose some 15th century buildings are still visible today as well as the Piazza Pio II, designed by the architect himself. For a weird of fate, both the Pope and the architect died in 1464, without the possibility to fully enjoy the fruit of their labours.

Pienza is known for its pecorino, that's sheep's cheese, especially the sotto cenere or under ashes version.

Pienza has some wonderful views over the Val d'Orcia below, so be sure to climb up from the Piazza Dante Alighieri (Porta al Prato) to the via Santa Caterina at the edge of the town and marvel at the wonderful panorama.



1 Cattedrale dell'Assunta
2 Palazzo Piccolomini
3 Museo della Cattedrale
4 Palazzo Comunale
5 Palazzo Ammanati


Piazza Pio II (Piazza Spagna) is intact, incorporanting the most rigorous of Renaissance perspective, and containing the cathedral and Palazzo Piccolomini. The town's main axis is corso Rossellino, lined with houses built by the nobility in the 14th century. The Renaissance square has a trapezium shape, and around it are the principal monuments erected by Bernardo Rossellino. In front of the Piccolomini Palace is a magnificent weil, the Pozzo dei Cani, that bears the coat-of-arms of the family. The well appeared in the film The English Patient.
The squared pavement ailows the observer to immediately evaluate the distance and proportions of the buildings.
Around Piazza Pio II, the Piccolomini and Borgia palaces and the cathedral are a testimony to this extraordinary vision which has made its historic centre one of the finest in the world.

The Cattedrale dell'Assunta was built between 1459 and 1462. While the rest of the building is in tufa, the facade is in travertine with a double order of columns and three portals. The façade that is one of the earliest designed in the Renaissance manner. Though the tripartite division is conventional, the use of pilasters and of columns, standing on high dados and linked by arches, was novel for the time.

Its luminous cathedral, Cattedrale dell'Assunta, houses panel paintings by the most renowned Sienese artists of the period. (The Assumption by Lorenzo of Pietro, The Virgin with Child by Sano of Pietro and an altar piece by Giovanni of Paolo and Matteo of Giovanni. Fragments of Romanesque sculpture are preserved in the crypt.

Palazzo Piccolomini

Next door, the imposing family residence Palazzo Piccolomini is graced with a loggia offering a fabulous panorama over Val d' Orcia. The Rucellai Palace in Florence inspired Rossellino's design of the Piccolomini Palace, the principal residence of the Pope. Today it is a museum that preserves many interesting heirlooms of the Piccolomini family. At the rear of the palazzo there is an ornate arcaded courtyard and a triple-tiered loggia looking out on the small but beautiful garden. From here there are spectacular views across to the wooded slopes of the Monte Amiata.
The palace is today the site of the Archivio di Stato of Siena with the museum of the Biccherne where it is possible to admire the outstanding collection of painted biccherna tablets, originally book covers of the ledgers of the biccherna and gabella, the financial and fiscal offices of the commune of Siena.
The Piccolomini garden was commissioned by Enea Silvio Piccolomini (Pope Pius II) from Bernardo Rossellino. The small terraced area dominates the entire Val d'Orcia and despite recent alterations still displays the typical features of the Renaissance garden.

There is a nice well, the Pozzo dei Cani, set in an angle between the palace and Corso Rossellino.


Pienza, Pozzo dei Cani in the Piazzo Pio II

Piazza Pio II

Pienza, Piazza Pio II

Photo gallery Palazzo Piccolomini, Pienza



Pienza, Palazzo Piccolomini, garden   Pienza, Palazzo Piccolomini,
the garden facade   Pienza, Palazzo Piccolomini, courtyard

Pienza, Palazzo Piccolomini, garden

  Pienza, Palazzo Piccolomini,
the garden facade



  Pienza, Palazzo Piccolomini, courtyard
Palazzo Piccolomini Garden

The Palazzo is embellished by a small hanging garden, created between 1459 and 1462 by order of the Pope himself, on a project by Rossellino. The garden is enclosed on three sides by high ivy-covered walls, while the fourth has three superimposed rows of arches, which characterise the southern facade of the papal residence. It has a system of drainpipes that prevents rain water from penetrating into the rooms below. The arrangement of space proposes anew the characteristics of Renaissance gardens: the flower-beds with double box hedges draw two perpendicular lanes with a fountain at their point of intersection. An octagonal well in the garden bears the coat of arms of the Piccolomini family. From the loggia, one can admire a spectacular panorama of the Val d’Orcia and Mount Cetona.
[read more]


Piccolomini garden

Pienza, Palazzo Piccolomin   Pienza, Palazzo Piccolomini, giardino   Pienza, Palazzo Piccolomini, cortile
Pienza, Palazzo Piccolomin   Pienza, Palazzo Piccolomini, giardino  

Pienza, Palazzo Piccolomini, cortile


Palazzo Borgia | Museo della Cattedrale


Pius encouraged his cardinals to build palazzi to complete the city. Opposite the Palazzo Piccolómini, to the left of the cathedral, is the Palazzo Vescovile (Bishop's Palace), which dates in its present form from the 15th century. It was built for Rodrigo Borgia, later Pope Alexander VI.[1] Palazzo Borgia, on the third side of the piazza, was built to house the bishops who would travel to Pienza to attend the pope. It is now home to the Diocesan Museum, and the Museo della Cattedrale. The collection includes local textile work as well as religious artifacts. Paintings include a 12th-century painted crucifix from the Abbey of San Pietro in Vollore, 14th century works by Pietro Lorenzetti (Madonna with Child) and Bartolo di Fredi (Madonna della Misericordia). There are also important works from the 14th and 15th centuries, including a Madonna attributed to Luca Signorelli.
The Episcopal Palace was purchased by the Pope for the Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, who transformed it by addicting a storey and replacing the Gothic windows. To the right of the bishop's palace, with its facade looking on to the side wall of the cathedral, is the Casa dei Canónici, a palazzo in restrained Renaissance style. It is now occupied by the Museo Diocesano di Arte Sacra, also known as the Museo della Cattedrale.

Facing the north front of the Palazzo Piccolómini, in Corso Rossellino, is the Palazzo Ammannati, built for Cardinal Giácomo Ammannati of Pavia, a friend of Pius II's.

The Palazzo Comunale, made of stuccoed tufa and brick with graffito, is in Tuscan style with an open lodge made of travertine at the ground level and a crenellated tower. The town hall was constructed in the second half of 1462. The bell tower was added later at a lower height than the Cathedral bell tower to underline the importance of church power over civil power. In the Counsel Room there is a beautiful fresco of the Sienese school of the 1400s by an unknown artist.

Other noteworthy buildings in Pienza include the Ammannati Palace, the Gonzaga Palace and the Palazzo del Cardinale Atrebatense, all built in the 15th century. They are are situated on the Rossellino Avenue (between the Gate al Prato to the Gate al Ciglio).

About fifty meters west of the piazza is the church of San Francesco, with a gabled façade and gothic portal. Among the buildings that survived from the old Corsignano, it is built on a pre-existing church that dated from the 8th century. The interior contains frescoes depicting the life of Saint Francis, those on the walls having been painted by Cristofano di Bindoccio and Meo di Pero, 14th century artists of the Sienese School.

Chiesa di San Francesco


Pienza, Palazzo Borgia o Palazzo VescovilePienza, Palazzo Borgia o Palazzo Vescovile


Luca Signorelli, Madonna della Misericordia tra San Sebastiano e San Bernardino, (1490 ca.), Museo Diocesano, Pienza


Il Piviale di Pio II

The Chiesa di San Francesco is one of the oldest Franciscan buildings of Italy and the only monument that remains of the ancient hamlet of Corsignano. The church dates from the second half of the 13th century, presents a simple hut like facade, decorated with a beautiful Gothic portal and inside a single nave with a hammer beam ceiling. The walls, one time totally frescoed, are today only represented by a few painted figurative images, mainly of evangelistic and Franciscan subjects.
The apse is completely covered with figurative frescoes representing, on the vault, the three Franciscans virtues and on the wall episodes of the life of S. Francis. These like the major part of the paintings, we re executed by Cristofano di Bindoccio and Meo di Pero, Sienese artists from the second half of the 14th century.



Interior of the chiesa di San Francesco, Pienza
Interior of the chiesa di San Francesco[3]



  Qk-Pienza-Duomo-16   Qk-Pienza-Duomo-15



Porta al Prato o Porta al Murello



Porta al Prato o porta al Murello, affresco, Pienza

Porta al Prato o porta al Murello, Pienza

Just inside Porta al Prato, Via Gozzante leads to a delightful raised walkway along the walls on the south side of the town which overlooks the valley, the Via Santa Caterina.

The Passaggiata Panoramica passes beneath the garden of Palazzo Piccolomini and continues from the Canonica to the Porta al Ciglio at the far end of Corso Rossellino. Outside the gate is a fortified palace with two impressive round towers. The old medieval streets of Corsignano are extemely picturesque

The hermitage Romitorio di Pienza, an Etruscan tomb excavated in the rocks and used as a hermitage in the Middle Ages, is situated near to the small seventeenth century chapel of Saint Catherine. Originally an Etruscan tomb, the romitorio was later used as a hermitage by monks in the Middle Ages. It is accessible by a short walk, and consists of a series of areas dug out of the sandstone, where the hermit monks lived, presumably from the 11th to the 18th centuries. The complex rises from a privileged position, both from a climatic and landscape point of view. A chapel was constructed in the upper part, dating from the second half of the 1500's, and contains relief sculptured into the rock, representing the Madonna suckling the Child. For the first decades of the last century, it was visited by the women of the area seeking to obtain fertility and an abundance of milk. In the lower part the hermitage there are several spaces with important rock sculptures dating from the second half of the 13th century to the 16th.
The hermitage Il Romitorio is located on a private property, Agriturismo Cretaiole. The Hermitage and adjoining ancient tuff quarry can be visited by appointment.

Via San Gregorio 14, 53026 Pienza (SI)
Tel.: +39 0578 748378 
Cell.: +39 339 3714498 - 339 6640060

Pievi in Toscana | Il Romitorio di Pienza




Pieve di Corsignano













Porta al Prato o porta al Murello, Pienza
Porta al Prato

Romitorio di Pienza
Romitorio di Pienza

Romitorio di Pienza
Romitorio di Pienza


Pieve di Corsignano

The presence of christian communities in the Val d'Orcia dates back to the 5th century, as many country churches Pievi were located along the old Roman roads. The Pieve di Santa Maria dello Spino between Monticchiello and Bagno Vignoni, and the Pieve dei Santi Vito e Modesto a Corsignano in Pienza are two of the most important little churches of the valley.


Pieve di Corsignano

Outside of the historical center of Pienza, is the parish church Pieve di Corsignano, an exceptional example of Romanesque art, a fascinating monument, and essential to an understanding of the history and origins of Pienza. It is just a short walk along the road towards Le Fonti. Continue along the Saint Catherine Walk, or the Dante Alighieri Square, go down along the Via delle Fonti. Map
The Pieve dei Santi Vito e Modesto a Corsignano is characterized by a cylindric tower and a decorated fortress with mythological and fantastic themes, and ancient symbols of fertility. There are two stunning decorated portals, a cylindrical belfry, and all the sculptures that the stonemasons left on the inside and the outside of the church. Of particular interest is the minuscule crypt under the presbytery. Inside the ancient baptismal font is conserved in which Enea Silvio Piccolomini was baptized.


Photo gallery Monastero di Sant'Anna in Camprena

Picture Gallery Pienza and the pieve di Corsignano






PienzaPanoramaSO   Pieve Corsignano esterno   Pieve Corsignano interno

Pieve dei Santi Vito e Modesto a Corsignano



Pieve Corsignano interno


Pieve di Corsignano3   Portale pieve pienza   Pieve Corsignano fonte battesimale

Portale d'ingresso  della Pieve dei Santi Vito e Modesto a Corsignano, Pienza


  Portale laterale    
Events in Pienza

Gioco del Cacio al Fuso, the cheese rolling competition in Pienza

The Gioco del Cacio is an ancient tradition of the local countryside, characterized by a cheese rolling game.
The town’s six districts (contrade) are competing for the prize (palio). All participants get 3 rolls to get the “cheese” closest to it’s target. The top contestant from each contrada then compete against each other to determine the winner who will claim the glory and gain points for their Contrada.
In the historical center of town the gastronomic and wine shops exhibit and sell their products. The fair ends with a ball in the main Piazza.

Events | Gioco del Cacio al Fuso the cheese rolling competition in Pienza

  Gioco del Cacio al Fuso, the cheese rolling competition in Pienza
surroundings of Pienza
Castelmuzio is a little medieval village dating from the 9th century. The village, 10 km from San Giovanni d'Asso and 9 km north of Pienza, silhouettes against the sky with its ocher yellow walls, it overlooks the green valley of the torrent Trove. Castelmuzio is constructed on a volcanic limestone mount and is defended by walls and ramparts in which the cannon embrasures can still be seen. These are formed of randomly placed limestone and sandstone blocks, as is the Casa Torre in the main square.
The tower, a prominent part of the fortified castle, stood watch over the countryside to protect the citizens from local enemies and barbarians from far away. Later, in the 16th century, it became the village’s civic building and housed the town council meetings and provided residence for the town prior. The tower is part of the Palazzo Fratini, which was once the medieval Spedale di San Giovanni Battista (hospital of St. John the Baptist).
There are 4 narrows sloping streets, all leading to the square under which lies an ancient travertine based water cistern. In this square, the Piazza della Pieve, the most important buildings are La chiesa Plebana, Casa Torre, Spedale di San Giovanni Battista and la confraternità della SS Trinità and S. Bernardino.
The Pieve di San Stefano in Cennano is situated just outside the village. This small parish church has a documented history since 715 A.D. Its location was originally an Etruscan place of worship, and much later the church was built over an early Roman temple. The part you see today was built in 1285 A.D. In recent years a cemetery and Roman bath have been discovered very close to the church.


On a hill opposite the medieval fortress of Castelmuzio is the picturesque abbey of Santa Anna in Camprena.
The monastery of Sant'Anna in Camprena was founded in 132-1334 by Bernardo Tolomei as a hermitage for the Benedictines. Bernardo Tolomei was the founder of the Roman Catholic Congregation of the Blessed Virgin of Monte Oliveto. The monastery was remade in the late 15th-early 16th century, and several times in the following centuries.
One can recognize this spot as the refuge of The English Patient, a serene Romanesque compound with a Renaissance chapel that houses a fresco by Pinturicchio. In the refectory there is a beautiful cycle of frescoes. dating from 1503-1504, depicted on the back wall. The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes. On the entrance wall three scenes with an enthroned S. Benedict surrounded by monks, the Pietà, the Madonna with Child, S. Anna and two Olivetan monks. All are the works of Antonio Bazzi, called Sodoma, a brilliant Piemontese artist (Vercelli 1477-Siena 1549). Santa Anna in Camprena is not open for the public.

The music festival Accademia delle Crete Senesi was founded on the initiative of some musicians of the Orchestre des Champs Elysées in Paris, among them Philippe Herreweghe. The concerts of the “Accademia delle Crete” take place in small but marvellous churches, among them Sant'Anna, chosen because of their adequate acoustics for the repertoire on the program.

Album Santa Anna in Camprena



Sant’Anna in Camprena
Monastero di Sant'Anna in Camprena, cortile   La facciata del monastero di Sant'Anna in Camprena  

Monastero di Sant'Anna in Camprena



Monastero di Sant'Anna in Camprena, monastero


Sant’Anna in Camprena, with fresco’s by Sodoma

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. Trequanda, a slighter larger village also preserves a good section of its castle. The Romanesque parish church of 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.

Within walking distance lies the beautiful Romanesque church Pieve di S. Stefano a Cennano that also has a small museum of old farm tools.

The Castle of Castello di Spedaletto is situated half way between Pienza and San Quirico, 9 km from Pienza, in the direction of Bagno Vignoni. This medieval fortress is an important example of a many towered and fortified castle. Inside there is a small church with Gothic portal and a nice rose window.
The Castle of Spedaletto was built in the 12th century along the ancient Via Francigena, which in the Middle Ages was the link between Rome and northern Italy. It was created as a hospital for pilgrims and travelers along the Pilgrims Way (Via Francigena), and was called "Orcia bridge's Hospital". From 1236 the Castle of Spedaletto became a grancia, a grain store, for the Spedale di Santa Maria della Scala and had surely the function of a fortified farm as well as hostel for the pilgrims. It was then called Spedale del Ponte dell 'Orcia (Hospital of the Bridge of River Orcia) and you can still now see the ruins of the old bridge in the middle of the river Orcia.
Expanded in the 15th century, the square-plan castle boasts picturesque embattled towers, a splendid fortified access gateway and a solid tower for its defence. Inside the courtyard there is a Gothic chapel with magnificent façade decorated with a rose-window and a Gothic-arched entrance.
Within its crenelated walls resides the Church of S. Nicolo (S. Nicholas) with a Romanesque doorway that conserves valuable frescoes inside from the second half of the 15th century.

South east of Pienza are Castelluccio di Pienza, a medieval castle, La Foce and Montichiello, a small centre in the heart of the Orcia valley whose beauty derives from its geographical position and the harmonious integration of its medieval architecture.




Trequanda, la facciata della chiesa parrocchiale dei Santi Pietro ed Andrea
Trequanda, la facciata della chiesa parrocchiale dei Santi Pietro ed Andrea


The Castle of Spedaletto
The Castle of Spedaletto

La Foce


To the east of the Via Cassia (just south of San Quirico) a by-road leads past the fortified farm of Spedaletto which belonged to the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala in Siena, and was also used as a hospice for pilgrims on their way to Rome. A pretty lane diverges for Pienza (see above), while this road runs along the stony shallow river bed where there are gravel works. The interesting landscape has pasturelands and calanchi (see above). Its wild aspect was partly altered in the 1980s when certain areas were levelled to create arable land. At the end of the valley, where the road begins to climb up to the watershed between the Val d'Orcia and the Val di Chiana, the landscape is better preserved. This was part of the huge estate of La Foce(3000 acres) purchased by Iris and Antonio Origo in 1923 where they spent most of their lives reclaiming the land and cultivating it. They also started a school, nursery school and day clinic on the estate, and Antonio was the founder of the Consorzio di bonifica in the Val d'Orcia which ran other schools. During the war, children from Turin and Genoa were taken in by the Origos, and they ran an orphanage here. Iris Origo (1902-88), the historian and biographer, described her life here in her autobiography Images and Shadows and her war diary War in Val d'Orcia. Her book, The Merchant of Prato , about the life of Francesco di Marco Datini, provides a vivid description of life in medieval Italy.

On the skyline the Castelluccio Bifolchi can be seen, a small castle where a delightful annual chamber music festival (see p 437) is held in summer (in the courtyard and other localities nearby). From the main road, lined with cypresses and pines, there is also a view of the country road which zigzags up to a farmhouse on the estate, which was planted with widely spaced cypresses by the Origos to provide a picturesque view from the main villa.

At the top of the ridge is the main entrance to the villa, still owned by the Origo family and since 1998 the seat of a foundation for the study of the landscape and environment of the Val d'Orcia. The gardens may be visited on Wednesdays (15.00-dusk; entrance fee, which is donated to charity). Ask at the farm office in the courtyard to the left of the house. They are usually at their best in May, June and September.

The villa, built in 1498 as a hostel run by the Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala of Siena, was restored for the Origos by the Englishman Cecil Pinsent, who designed a number of other gardens in Tuscany, most of them in the environs of Florence (see pp 109-110). Here he added the outside staircase and enlarged the house, as well as designing the lovely gardens and farm outbuildings (water was piped here from a spring seven kilometres away). The numerous cypresses he planted (which also served as wind-breaks) are now suffering from disease and some have had to be felled. Beside the house are two ilexes, one of which is very old, pruned to an unusual shape. The orangery is a handsome building by Pinsent (1924).

From the first garden close to the house (1924/5) which has a low hedge of dwarf pomegranates, a little stone ramp leads up to the gardens outside the larger house, partly built in the 19C (it was given its 16C appearance by Pinsent who added the two upper floors and courtyard), where bay and box hedges feature. The lemon garden, towards the Orcia valley, was designed in 1933. A splendid old wisteria flourishes here. The paths are paved in travertine from Rapolano. A terrace looks down onto a third garden, dating from just before the war. Here the box hedges are planted in an interesting design around four magnolias, and the hedge of cypresses is kept low for the view of the valley, which includes the cypress avenue mentioned above, which zigzags up the hill opposite. Above the second garden is the rose garden, with mixed flowerbeds bordered with lavender, and an herbaceous border. From here steps, lined with cypresses, lead up to the top of the hill. A paved pergola (of vines and wisteria) leads along the side of the hill from the rose garden, past grassy slopes planted with fruit trees and banksia roses. The pergola ends at a large wood crossed by paths, one of which leads to the little cemetery, also designed by Pinsent, where Iris and her husband are buried.

Gardens in Tuscany | Villa La Foce

Anello La Foce – Riserva Lucciola Bella – Castelluccio | 12,5 km


La Foce garden


La Foce garden


Castelluccio Bifolchi


La Foce, the road near Villa La Foce

The cypresses that twine up a hill side in front of Villa La Foce, near Chianciano Terme

The cypresses that twine up a hill side near Chianciano Terme have become an emblem of Tuscany. But they also have a story, for they were planted by Marchese and Marchesa Origo (the writer Iris Origo) as part of a scheme to improve the landscape of what was then among Italy's most desolate regions.


In the middle of the Orcia valley, on a hill is the little well-preserved village of Contignano, with a fine castle tower. The church, which was remodelled in the 17C, has a 14C altarpiece of the Coronation of the Virgin. There is a splendid panorama embracing Monte Amiata, Radicofani, Monte Cetona and Pienza across the Val d'Orcia.


Monte Amiata and the Val d'Orcia, view from La Foce


Riserva Naturale Lucciola Bella


The Nature Riserve (Riserva Naturale Lucciola Bella) is situated south east of Pienza and Montichiello, in the Val d’Orcia, which stretches up to Chianciano Terme. The riserve is in a small corner of the typical landscape of the crete senesi. In fact the striking feature of the nature reserve is this unusual landscape of the calanchi and biancane, typical erosive features of the Crete Senesi landscape, mainly linked to grazing activities: they house important and exclusive vegetational and ornithological aspects.

Walking and trekking in Tuscany | Walking in the Val d'Orcia

Trekking in Tuscany | Anello La Foce di Chianciano – Riserva di Lucciola Bella – Palazzone – Castelluccio

Trekking in Tuscany | Anello La Foce to Vetriana and Monte Cetona

Walking in the Val d'Orcia | 7 best walks around Pienza



Walking in the Val d'Orcia
The walk takes off at Piazza Dante Alighieri, through the Viale S. Caterina, direction Pieve di Corsignano.

  From Montepulciano to Pienza | 11 km, 3 hours

A gentle up & downhill walk from the magnificent town Montepulciano to the perfect place Pienza along the beautiful scenery of Toscany. The walk starts at the Piazza Grande, next to the Duomo.


Solitary cypresses or lining in long rows ancient country roads, vineyeards which follow the ups and downs of rolling hills, streams overshadowed by trembling poplars, oaks and holm-oaks woods, strawberry trees and brooms growing on the banks of the roads, they make up the landscape which can be enjoyed on approaching Castelmuzio, the old, suggestive medieval village in the heart of Tuscany. [read more]

Maps: Multigraphic Val d'Orcia, Kompass nr. 662 Lago trasimeno and Kompass nr. 653 Pienza-Montalcino-Monte Amiata.


Enlarge map


[°] Photo by LigaDue, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
[1] Pope Alexander VI, born Rodrigo Lanzol and later known as Rodrigo Borgia was Pope from 1492 until his death on 18 September 1503. He is one of the most controversial of the Renaissance popes.
Rodrigo Borgia is the ruthless and decadent patriarch of The Borgia family who with the help of his children, bribes, buys and muscles his way into the papacy to become Pope Alexander VI in 1492. During his notorious reign, accusations ranged from adultery to murder, but nothing could deter his maniacal hunger for power, wealth and mistresses. Cloaked in controversy and despised by many, the Borgias arethe original crime family who centuries later, served as the inspiration for the iconic Corleone Family in Mario Puzo’s classic novel The Godfather.
Pope Alexander VI's real corruption became known while he was in charge of the Catholic Church. He groomed his son, Cesare Borgia, to be an emperor. Cesare Borgia became the focus of The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. Borgia's daughter, Lucrezia Borgia, shared her father's corrupt ways, and she is the Borgia for whom Buffalo Bill named his gun in 1863. The family name was established before Rodrigo Borgia, but his infamous time as Pope Alexander VI changed the his family name into a synonym for treachery, danger, and depravity.

In 2011 Showtime announced a new show called The Borgias, with Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons as Rodrigo Borgia, the cunning, manipulative patriarch of The Borgia family who builds an empire through the corruption of the holy Catholic Church and orchestrates a relentless reign of ».

[2] The Pieve di Corsignano | The symbol of the siren on the lintel of the gate in pieve di Corsignano (Siena, Tuscany)
The symbol of the siren, like many others symbols, has very ancient origins.
As far as its meaning is concerned, in very general terms, you could affirm that:
the - [female-] superior part of the siren is a reference to the "attractive" aspects that -on the corporeal and spiritual dimension- belong to the human kind; the inferior part- tail or tails of fish- refers to the "wild",and "hidden" instincts that sometimes men cannot control.
In the Western Middle Age the image of the siren was often used to point out the carnal and terrestrial dimension of the life.
We find a good sample of this on the lintel of the gate of pieve di Corsignano, around Pienza (Siena, Tuscany).

[3] Photo by Vignaccia76, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Andrew Johnson | A Little Guided Visit to the Pienza Cathedral

The frazioni Cosona (9,12 km), La Foce (12,64 km), Monticchiello (5,41 km) and Spedaletto (5,38 km) are part of the community Pienza.


Album Val d'Orcia


Abbazia di Sant'Antimo - 01   SantAngeloInColleMontalcinoPanorama4   Duomo (Pienza)



  Sant'Angelo in Colle   Pienza, Duomo
Cappella della Madonna di Vitaleta
Bagno Vignoni

San Quirico d'Orcia, Capella della Madonna di Vitaleta



Tuscany is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Known for its enchanting landscapes, its fantastic and genuine food and beautiful towns as Florence, Pisa, Lucca and Siena. Podere Santa Pia is located in the heart of the green hills of the Valle d'Ombrone, and one can easily reach some of the most beautiful attractions of Tuscany, such as Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano and San Quirico d'Orcia, famous for their artistic heritage, wine, olive oil production and gastronomic traditions.
Hidden away from mass-tourism, discover a piece of Italy which remains largely unchanged both nature and lifestyle-wise. The peacefulness of the countryside, the various unique villages and the friendly atmosphere will no doubt pleasantly surprise you.

Podere Santa Pia is a fully equipped 4 bedroom holiday home. The surrounding countryside is superbly peaceful with vineyards, olive groves, medieval hamlets and castles. Guests can sit in a South facing garden, surrounded by a marvelous natural landscape rich in beautiful hills, ancient villas, centuries-old olive groves, vineyards and hilltop villages with stone parish churches.
Close to the house is a unique private swimming pool (12 x 5 m). On the spacious terrace around the pool are sun loungers, tables, chairs... This is also an ideal place for outdoor dining, to enjoy an apero or dinner al fresco. And here also, the views are truly stunning.

Tuscany's Best-Kept Secret | Holiday home Podere Santa Pia

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Early morning light at the private swimming pool at Podere Santa Pia



A bigger splash in swimming pool at Podere Santa Pia, southern Tuscany



A bigger splash in the pool, Podere Santa Pia, Castiglioncello Bandini, Cinigiano, Tuscany


And as the sun sets over the horizon, the villa's sprawling garden transforms into a magical oasis
Holiday villa with privat swimming pool in Tuscany
A sunny Autumn afternoon and relaxing by the pool on the classic outdoor teak furniture

Podere Santa Pia



Podere Santa Pia



A sunny Autumn afternoon and relaxing by the pool on the classic outdoor teak furniture


The historic Via Francigena

Nestled on a rural hillside in the province of Siena in central Tuscany, Podere Siena is old farming cloister, located near the historic Via Francigena, the medieval pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome. The Via Francigena was first mentioned in the 3rd century and is Europe's oldest route of pilgrimage. After leaving England, it winds for roughly 600 miles through Arras, Rheims and Lausanne before reaching Tuscany and some of Italy's most beautiful landscapes.
Hospitals, abbeys and churches were built for pilgrims to stop along the way, as well as bridges to ease trade between Italy and northern Europe.
Those interested in exploring the Tuscan part of this ancient road should start south of Siena, along the Via Cassia and into the Val d’Arbia towards Isola d’Arbia. Just outside town is the church of Sant’Ilario, which was a popular stopping point for pilgrims on their way to Rome. After about 10 kilometres there is Buonconvento, a small hamlet that was once a strategic outpost of the lands governed by the Republic of Siena.

Of the many lodgings that existed for pilgrims, some still survive today as agriturismi, or farmhouse residences. Towards Montalcino, the Abbey of Sant’Antimo is definitely worth a stop, before arriving at the Medieval town of San Quirico d’Orcia. The renowned thermal baths at Bagno Vignoni are not far from here.

After Bagno Vignoni the road continues towards the fortresses of Castiglion d’Orcia (Rocca Aldobrandesca) and Rocca d’Orcia, with its magnificent Rocca a Tentennano. Still further south stands Monte Amiata, with its chestnut forests. The most important town on Monte Amiata is Abbadia San Salvatore, where there is also the Abbey of San Salvatore. The Via Francigena leaves the region of Tuscany here and continues towards Rome, often including sections of the Via Cassia.

Another itinerary along the Via Francigena runs through Val d’Elsa, an area of Tuscany that is particularly rich in castles and ancient churches. Starting at Siena, take the Via Cassia towards Monteriggioni into the Pian del Lago, where there is the imposing Castello della Chiocciola castle.

Podere Santa Pia, situated in one of the most idyllic parts of Tuscany, perfect for relaxing with magnificent panoramic views of the mystical Maremma hills up to the Mediterranean Sea and Montecristo.