Abbadia d'Ombrone

Abbazia di Vallombrosa

Villa Arceno

Bardini Garden in Florence

Bernard Berenson

Boboli's Gardens

Il parco dei Mostri di Bomarzo

Villa Bottini

Castello di Brolio

Villa Cahen

Villa della Capponcina

Villa Capponi

Villa Medici at Careggi

Villa di Catignano

Cecil Ross Pinsent

Castello di Celsa

Villa Certano Baldassarrini

Certosa di Pontignano

Villa di Cetinale

Villa Chigi Saracini

Villa Farnese (Caprarola)

Gardens in Fiesole

Villa Gamberaia

Villa Garzoni in Collodi

Villa di Geggiano

Villa Grabau

Villa Guicciardini Corsi Salviati

Horti Leonini di San Quirico

Villa I Collazzi, Firenze

Iris Origo

L'Orto de'Pecci (Siena)

Villa I Tatti

Villa Medicea La Ferdinanda

Villa La Foce

Villa La Gallina in Arcetri

Villa Lante

Villa La Petraia

Villa La Pietra

Villa La Suverana in Casole d'Elsa

The Medici Villa at Careggi

Villa Medici in Fiesole, Firenze

Garden of Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Firenze

Villa Medicea at Poggio a Caiano

Medici Villas in Tuscany

Villa di Monaciano

Giardino degli Orti Oricellari | Firenze

Orto Botanico, Siena

Villa Orlandini in Poggio Torselli

Il Palazzone

Villa Palmieri and Villa Schifanoiai

Villa Peyron al Bosco di Fontelucente

Palazzo Piccolomini in Pienza

Villa di Pratolino

Villa Reale di Marlia

Villa San Donato in Colle (Bagno a Ripoli)

Villa Santini Torrigiani

Villa di Vicobello

Villa Vistarenni

Il Vittoriale degli Italiani

Gardens in Tuscany
Castello di Celsa, chapel

Castello di Celsa


The exclusive Castello di Celsa, owned by the princely Aldobrandini family, lies fourteen kilometers south-east of Siena. The old castle, converted to a palatial villa in the sixteenth century and with a garden built in the seventeenth century.

The 16th-century garden, probably designed by the great Sienese architect Baldassare Peruzzi ( 1481 – 1537 ), has disappeared, overlaid by a formal parterre today displaying the Aldobrandini coat of arms in a box pattern, leaving only the elegant circular chapel as a record of the architect's work. Seventeenth-century designs for imposing gateways and a new pool mark the transition from fortress to villa.
The Castello di Celsa is one of Italy’s best kept secrets and is open to the public.

Address - 2 Castello di Celsa, Sovicille
Link Italian Gardens

Walking in Tuscany
La montagnola senese extends in the districts of Siena, Monteriggioni, Sovicille and Casole d'Elsa, but for the most part it is located in the district of Sovicille.
During the XII-XIII century several churches were built, among which the parish church of Pernina, Molli, S.Giusto a Valli, San Lorenzo martire, S.Maria di Ponte allo Spino, the parish church of Rosia and San Lorenzo martire. In the same period some towers (Palazzone di Sovicille and Palazzaccio di Toiano), castles (Celsa, Montarrenti, Cerreto Selva e Palazzo al Piano) were built, too. Several ancient villages and churches are really charming; among the first ones there is the XII century white fortress of Monteriggioni, with its boundary wall reinforced with 14 square towers. Among the second ones: the wonderful parish churches of Radicondoli, Ponte allo Spino in Sovicille, San Giovanni in Rosia, the Augustinian hermitage of Lecceto, and finally the original complex of Abbadia Isola, a medieval village built in 1001 around the Cistercian Abbey of San Salvatore. Located on the edge of an extensive plain below the wooded slopes of Mount Maggio, the buildings are dominated by the Romanesque church with three naves and three apses.

Sovicille’s territory stretches from La Montagnola Senese to the valley of the river Merse.
Most of the itineraries around Sovicille are covered by the Carta Turistica (Turistic Maps) and by the Sentieri della Montagnola Senese 1:25000 (The Sienese Montagnola Paths) Club Alpino Italiano (CAI: Italian Alpine Club) Sezione di Siena (Multigraphic Edizioni, Firenze).

Anello Sovicille | Sovicille – San Giusto – Villa Cetinale – Il romitorio di Cetinale - Pieve di Pernina – Ancaiano – Villa Celsa - 16 km (Italian)

Anello Monteriggioni | Monteriggioni | Badia a Isola | Castel Petraia | Monte Maggio (Italian)

In the the 11th century, this area was covered with marshlands, which were worked by Benedictine monks who fashioned an area where a monastery and important church could be built.
Located on the Via Francigena, Abbadia Isola occupied an important position in medieval times. In the 14th century, with the rise of Monteriggioni as a regional center, the village began to decline in importance.


Cetinale, a villa near Villa Celsa, was constructed by Carlo Fontana , a pupil of Bernini, between 1676 and 1719.

Cetinale was one of 70 gardens profiled by early 1900s American author Edith Wharton and featured again when Vivian Russell wrote a book entitled “Edith Wharton’s Italian Gardens” in 1997.

Some of the gardens had been bombed during the past two world wars, while others were spoiled by tourism or neglect. Fortunately for posterity Cetinale, has been owned and significantly restored after war damage by English Lord Lambton, and his family, over the past 40 years.
Penelope Hobhouse, the internationally acclaimed garden designer, called Cetinale ‘the epitome of garden design’, and has written that the flower garden is ‘one of the most beautiful in Italy’.
Villa Cetinale was used as the Villa in question in the film made of Somerset Maughan’s short story “Up at the Villa” starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Sean Penn.[1]

Villa Cetinale

Maps: Edizioni Multigraphic Walking Maps of Central Italy 509, Montagnola Senese & Bosco di Lecceto, 1:25,000.
An overprint highlights hiking paths, including all the popular hiking routes such as the Grandi Sentieri della Provincia di Siena,

Il Club Alpino Italiano (C.A.I.) | | Dal versante di Sovicille e Rosia, verso il sentiero n° 100 | Sentieri n°110 | Sentiero n°112 - Sovicille – Molli | Sentiero n°114 - Rosia – Tonni | Sentiero n° 100: Monteriggioni – Monte Maggio – Marmoraia – Molli – Ponte della Pia

Villa is Tuscany

Podere Santa Pia is a peaceful retreat, perfect for relaxing and enjoying the splendor of the Tuscany countryside. Enjoy the exquisite art, museums and churches in the nearby cities, then relish the cuisine and epic countryside. Podere Santa Pia highlights the best of the quintessential Italian region. Explore the medieval hillside villages of Sovicille or Casole d’Elsa on your way to Colle Val d'Elsa and Volterra, marvel at settlements that date back to Etruscan times, try some Vernaccia wines in San Gimignano, where the refined beauty of the squares and churches blends perfectly with the ancient traditions of its white wines. The Vernaccia di San Gimignano was the first Italian wine to receive the Doc recognition back in 1966. The wine is produced exclusively in the territory of the Medieval town of San Gimignano, nearby Siena and is now the only Tuscan DOCG white wine.

Artist and Writer's Residency | Holiday homes in the Tuscan Maremma | Podere Santa Pia

Podere Santa Pia  
Villa I Tatti
Podere Santa Pia, view from the garden
on the valley below




Sovicille, Pieve di Ponte allo Spino
Castello Torre Alfina
Abbey of San Galgano

Abbey of San Galgano
L'eremo di Montesiepi (the Hermitage of Montesiepi)

The Montagnola Senese and the Fortified Village of Sovicille

The Montagnola Senese is an area of hills to the west of Siena. The soil in this area is made up of chalky formations, marble and continental sediments from the Miocene period. The high levels of iron ore present in the soil give it its dark red colouring.
The Piana di Rosia area contains a vast water basin that supplies water to Siena and much of the surrounding area, with a number of water springs gushing naturally from the ground at several points along the feet of the Montagnola.
Listed as a Site of Community Importance in the Rete Natura 2000, the Montangola is rich in woodland, with the upper sections of the hills covered in Mediterranean scrub supporting a variety of trees such as ilex, turkey oak, chestnut, hornbeam, oak and cypress. The undergrowth is a fertile tangle of briars, mistletoe, ferns, holly and more.
Those walking through the woods in autumn will find them rich in mushrooms and seasonal forest fruits such as blackberries and wild strawberries. In the spring the wood floor abounds in wild flowers such as primroses, a broad range of broom, anemones, cyclamens and blackthorn.
The abundant wildlife that inhabits the area ranges from wolves to boar, deer, foxes, badgers, porcupines, hedgehogs, squirrels and a large range of migratory birds. The climate ranges from cold, damp winters to hot, damp summers.

The lands included in the Comune of Sovicille extend from the Montagnola Senese to the valley of the river Merse, roughly 10 kilometres from Siena. The name Sovicille has been attributed by some as deriving from the Latin Suavis locus ille, meaning “that pleasant place”. Others believe it comes from the Greek sukon-siconio, meaning “fig flower” after the abundance of fig trees that once grew in this area.

The elliptical shape of Sovicille testifies to the Etruscan origins of this village, remained virtually as it would have been in the 14th century. A number of churches and tower-houses were erected between the 12th and 13th century (Palazzone di Sovicille and Palazzaccio di Toiano), as well as fortresses (Celsa, Cerreto Selva ) and mills (Molino del Pero, Molino del Palazzo). During the Middle Ages in fact the area around Sovicille boasted at least 55 fortified hamlets, most of which have vanished, a few surviving in the country houses that dot the surrounding countryside.

Within the village itself there is the illusion that time has somehow stopped still. The curved Via Roma is lined with ancient buildings and it is easy to see that the buildings on the right hand side of the street correspond to the first circle of fortifications erected to defend the Medieval castle. The Palazzo Pretorio, at number 30, dates from the 17th century and still displays the coats of arms of the Niccolini and Fortini families, posted to Sovicille as podestà after the fall of the Republic of Siena in 1555. At each corner of the rectangular main square there once stood the four defence towers placed at each of the main streets leading into the centre of the village. The last of these towers was demolished in 1864 to make way for the Palazzo Municipale.
After the Unification of Italy, Sovicille and a number of surrounding hamlets were restored by the Italian state, thereby saving them from destruction.

Sources |
Tuscany | The Montagnola Senese

The Val di Merse

stands about 10 kilometres west of Siena on the old via Maremmana which linked the Sienese hinterland with the Tyrrhenian coast. The area is historically very important inasmuch as prehistoric finds have demonstrated that it was already inhabited in the Stone Age. There have also been notable Etruscan and Roman finds.
The features that identify the whole Val di Merse are found in the Commune of Sovicille: woods in the hilly areas and cultivated fields in the fertile plains at the foot of the valley. The main localities are Rosia and San Rocco a Pilli.
The historic-artistic heritage of the territory is of extreme importance. It can boast a large presence of abbeys and Romanesque parish churches such as San Giusto a Balli, Pernina, Molli, Ponte allo Spino, TorriSanta Mustiola abbey, and San Lorenzo a Sovicille. Villas worth mentioning are the 17th century Cetinale designed by the architect Carlo Fontana; Celsa with its formal garden and the 18th century Villa Linari.

Murlo is a castle-village on a hill slightly more than 300 metres high that dominates the valley of the Crevole, covered in dense woodland. It is borderline country between the Val di Merse district, to which it belongs, and the Crete Senesi area of Val d’Arbia: in a magnificent position, it overlooks the valley of the Ombrone and the Montalcino hill.
The origins of the place are linked to the Etruscan civilisation, clearly demonstrated by the finds at Poggio Civitate and Poggio Aguzzo. The castle of Murlo, with its typical fortified town-planning structure, dates to the 12th century when it was the main centre of the Fief or Bishopric of the Bishops of Siena. The layout as seen today bears witness to transformations carried out at the end of the 16th century after the fall of the Siena Republic, revealing the structure of the castle with its walls surmounted by small dwellings surrounding the Bishop’s Palace (which today houses the Archaeological Museum), the prison building and the cathedral. There are two access gates to the castle.
Near Murlo is Vescovado, an important centre that was formed by joining two villages -Andica and Tinoni- which were still separate at the beginning of the 19th century. The church in Vescovado houses a 1475 painting by Benvenuto di Giovanni depicting the Virgin Enthroned with Saints.

The territory of the Commune of Monticiano is intact and wild, at once harsh and hospitable. The surrounding woods are rich in century-old oak and chestnut trees. It stands on a hill overlooking the course of the river Merse, a short way from the San Galgano, abbey complex which may be reached on a magnificent walk. Another aspect of this territory’s heritage is the pure, crystalline water of the river Farma which, before joining the Merse and flowing into the Ombrone, marks the natural boundary between the provinces of Siena and Grosseto.
In the village you can admire the church of Sant’Agostino with the chapter room of the former monastery frescoed by Bartolo di Fredi, Guidoriccio Cozzarelli and Giovanni di Bartolo di Fredi, Guidoriccio Cozzarelli e Giovanni di Paolo. In Gothic style it is one of the Augustinian order’s oldest hermitages. Worth seeing are the locality of San Lorenzo a Merse with the ancient castle and the Romanesque church; the hamlet of Castello di Tocchi; the ruins of the Castellaccio, Monte Quoio and Renna.

Chiusdino stands in a magnificent location, overlooking the Merse Valley and the Metalliferous Hills amid woods and pastureland. The position and structure of the fortified mediaeval castle demonstrate an evident defensive strategy. Chiusdino was governed by the Bishops of Volterra and subsequently (13th century) by the Commune of Siena.
In the village you will find the church of San Martino known as “outside the walls”, the Provostship of San Michele, next to the house where San Galgano, e la chiesa della Company of San Galgano with an interesting 1466 bas-relief depicting San Galgano plunging the sword into the stone. The Cistercian abbey of San Galgano and the Monte Siepi hermitage are also in the Commune of Chiusdino.

Tuscany | The Val di Merse

[1] Source: Final day of Garden Tour – Cetinale, Castello di Brolio and Good and Bad Government


One of the best places to slow travel in southern Tuscany is Podere Santa Pia. This holiday house is a peaceful retreat, perfect for relaxing with magnificent panoramic views of the mystical Maremma hills up to the Mediterranean Sea and Montecristo.