Montenero d'Orcia, GR, Italia
In the land between Amiata, Val d'Orcia and the Maremma, the little town of Montenero rises on an imposing spur of rock, which was formed millions of years ago. Considering the mythology of the surrounding area, the landscapes that you can see from the village's historic centre need no introduction; they just need to be lived, in the first person.
Etruscan remains have been found in the outlying area, which confirm that the settlement's origins go all the way back to the Etruscan civilisation. But it was in the medieval period that Montenero grew in strategic significance, as is seen in its fortifications, built by the Aldobrandeschi and by the Abbey of San Salvatore in order to safeguard the valleys from enemy incursions. From a defensive breakwater, Montenero evolved into a battleground between the Republic of Siena and Florence's Medici rulers, later replaced by the Habsburg-Lorraine dukes.
The first thing that strikes visitors as they approach is the ring of olive groves and vineyards that encircle the town, climbing from ground level all the way up the hillsides. Wine and olive oil, indeed, are the crown jewels of this hamlet of Castel di Piano.