GENTLE HILLS AND ROWS OF CYPRESS TREES
AT THE FOOT OF MOUNT AMIATA
The cooperative is located in the Val d’Orcia area, south of the province of Siena, at the foot of Mount Amiata. The area, which is a well-known destination for numerous tourists throughout the year, was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2004.
It includes the municipalities of Castiglione d’Orcia, Pienza, the birthplace of Pope Pius II, Montalcino, famous worldwide for its Brunello wine, Radicofani and San Quirico d’Orcia.
The particular nature of the valley, crossed by the river Orcia, is expressed by the gentle procession of hills, crossed occasionally by cypress trees which, cultivated and modelled by human intervention, change colour with the passing of the seasons.
During the autumn we have all the shades of brown and orange. In the winter the fields are bare, with greenish patches of newly-emerged grain, an intense colour from which red poppies and yellow wild radish emerge in the spring, while the summer is yellow, with the fields of threshed grain dotted with hay bales. It is one of the few places in the world where human intervention has created a unique and wonderful landscape.
The valley is also an important nature, art and culture reserve, and has been recognised and protected as a natural protected area of local interest since 1999. Alongside the beautiful villages with their towers, there are also some very interesting natural areas.
Castiglione d’Orcia is worth a visit, with its recently-restored Tintennano and Aldobrandesca towers, the piazza dedicated to the painter Lorenzo di Pietro, known as Il Vecchietta, the San Giovanni art gallery and the medieval hamlet of Rocca d’Orcia.
In the area, we have the city of Pienza, with its piazza Pio II, the hamlet of Montalcino, the abbey of San Antimo in Castelnuovo dell’Abate, the fortress of Radicofani, the centre of San Quirico d’Orcia with its splendid churches such as the Collegiata and the “Horti Leonini” Italian gardens, the thermal baths of Bagno Vignoni with its sulphurous waters basin in the central square.
However, the territory expresses its best from a natural point of view. The groups of cypress trees along the world-famous Via Cassia, the splendid views and panoramas throughout the valley, the lime falls of the thermal baths in Bagni San Filippo (Balena Bianca), the Lucciola Bella nature reserve, the Mediterranean bush biotope along the shores of the river Orcia in the Castigione d’Orcia area, and the biotope of white fir trees in Vivo d’Orcia.
The territory is crossed by the Via Francigena, which in Medieval times connected Canterbury to Rome, and which is still the destination for numerous pilgrims who walk the road right to Saint Peter’s square in Rome. There are still numerous ancient rest stops where pilgrims could take a break.