Val D'Orcia

The Val d'Orcia Natural Artistic and Cultural Park

A nature reserve to preserve the area’s outstanding natural beauty

Castiglione d'Orcia
The Val d'Orcia Natural Artistic and Cultural Park was created to protect the natural and artistic heritage of the valley whilst guaranteeing an improvement in the local economy and the way of life. The park’s aim was to achieve these goals without turning the area into some sort of “museum”.

The Val d'Orcia Natural Artistic and Cultural Park is run by people who live and work in the area or are part of local administration. The five municipalities that wished to create the Park, (Castiglione d'Orcia, Montalcino, Pienza, Radicofani and San Quirico d'Orcia) realise only too well that they have taken on a big challenge. Their goal is to promote sustainable development whilst protecting cultural identity for future generations.

The Park is an ANPIL (Area Naturale Protetta di Interesse Locale/Protected Natural Area of Local Interest) and is managed by Val d'Orcia s.r.l. This company is made up of the five municipalities of the area (Montalcino, Pienza, San Quirico d'Orcia, Castiglione d'Orcia, Radicofani), the Province of Siena, the Comunità Montana Amiata Senese, individual businessmen, associations, consortiums and other local authorities.

The Val d'Orcia s.r.l. was founded in 1996 and has its head office in the historical Palazzo Pretorio in San Quirico d'Orcia. The company has many different activities. Firstly, they analyse and research projects aimed at the sustainable development of the area. Secondly, they take care of the promotion and commercialisation of local agricultural products and handcrafts with the Val d‘Orcia quality stamp, both within Italy and abroad. Finally, they promote tourism and cultural events.

The territory of the Val d'Orcia is a beautiful natural landscape with the gently rolling hills and valleys typical of the Sienese Crete, rich with a variety of flora and fauna. The river Orcia springs from a gorge and winds its way across the valley. The geographical history of the area began 5 million years ago when the sea receded, leaving behind sand and clay deposits which formed the surface of the valley. Later, two volcanoes, Radicofani and Monte Amiata, covered the area with lava which became a rock now known as trachyte.

Erosion of the soil has played a major role in the formation of the landscape. The clay soil has been laid bare in certain areas forming craggy outcrops known as ‘calanchi’ and clay knolls also called ‘biancane’ or ‘mammelloni’. These can be found in the areas of Casa a Tuoma (Pienza), Ripalta (San Quirico), Lucciolabella, Beccatello, Torre Tarugi (Pienza), Contignano, Pietre Bianche and the Poggio Leano (Radicofani).

North west of Bagno Vignoni there is a magnificent rocky gorge covered with woodlands and Mediterranean scrub which opens out onto the vineyards of Montalcino and then continues to the sea. On the slopes of Monte Amiata are forests of beech and chestnut trees. The rare beauty of the Holm oak woods of Scarceta is also of particular interest. The Abetina del Vivo with ancient silver fir trees is situated near the old village of Vivo d'Orcia, famous for springs which provide water for much of the area. Other tree species found throughout the area are the turkey oak and downy oak. These species are found in particular concentration towards the Maremma. However, the tree which has become a symbol of the Val d'Orcia is the cypress tree.

The Val d’Orcia is also home to a large variety of wildlife such as the porcupine, badger, beech marten, polecat, weasel, fox, and wild boar. The presence of wolves has also been noted in the territory of Radicofani where sheep farming is widespread. The whole area is an ornithologist’s paradise with the barn owl, long-eared owl, eagle owl and little owl, as well as birds of prey such as the buzzard, harrier eagle, hen-harrier and kestrel. You might also spot the black and green woodpecker, the raven and hooded crow, the wryneck, flycatcher and bee-eater, to name but a few.

Castiglione d'Orcia
Castiglione d’Orcia is a village nestled in the spectacular countryside of the Val d’Orcia, a region marked by the typical geological white, lunar “crete,” or “clays,” formed through ages of transformation. These lands are known for their clayish hills, where the slopes form sinuous bends with rounded corners, and in steeper areas, the “biancane,” barren semi-spherical (or cone-shaped) domes. ...