In Southern Tuscany, there is an undiscovered area full of art, things to do and magical landscapes. It is called Mount Amiata and it is situated in the province of Siena, facing the soft landscape of the Val d'Orcia to the northeast and closing the eastern side of the Maremma.
The first thing you should probably know is that in ancient times, Mount Amiata was a volcano, but don’t worry: today it is dormant and, at 1736 metres, it’s the highest in Italy! This area has remained untouched and has maintained its rural charm. The Mount Amiata area is a paradise for sport lovers and all those who want to explore this beautiful territory by bike, on horseback, on foot or simply visiting the historical hamlets.
Here are some ideas to spend a memorable holiday in this area.
If you like eating
Mount Amiata is the kingdom of chestnuts and mushrooms. Chestnuts in particular were always present on the table in traditional dishes, such as chestnut polenta, castagnaccio or bread made with the chestnut flour. But Amiata is also famous for boar or lamb “buglioni”, cinta, hand made pasta, and wine.
If you like culture and nature
Wonderful trails, rocks, springs, rivers and streams of a volcanic landscape formed millions of years ago are just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. In particular, the Monte Amiata has a long history connected to local mines. The Parco Museo delle Miniere del Monte Amiata explores the places connected to one of the most important mercury mines in the world. It is still possible to find old miners who tell the hard life of mining.
If you like thermal spas
As said before, Mount Amiata was an active volcano in antiquity, meaning that although it's now inactive, today it is home to many natural thermal springs. There are three thermal spas in the area around Mount Amiata: Bagni San Filippo, Bagno Vignoni and, just a few kilometres away, San Casciano dei Bagni. These thermal springs flow endlessly from deep underground.
If you like history
The famous Via Francigena passes at the foot of the mountain and you can travel along the via Cassia and look at the top if the mountain: you’ll see Abbadia San Salvatore, founded in the early Middle Ages and also the Abbey of San Salvatore. Among the many events that regularly take place at Abbadia San Salvatore, one of the most interesting is the traditional “Medieval Festival” that takes place in July. The event includes a historical procession, dances and duels that evoke medieval times.
If you like sports
There are lots of possibilities for people who like sport:
- Skiing: here, skiers can choose among 15 ski lifts located in four locations on the mountain (the Prato della Contessa, the Prato delle Macinaie, the Marsiliana, and the Cantore Refuge). These modern lifts serve over 25 km of ski trails and slopes and ski instructors and ski schools are also available.
- Excursions on foot: the most important excursion is the 'Ring of the Mountain', a magnificent 28 km-long itinerary that travels around the volcano. It takes excursionists through towns and villages like Abbadia San Salvatore, Vivo d'Orcia, Arcidosso, Piancastagnaio, and Santa Fiora. Other itineraries connect Santa Fiora, Piancastagnaio and the 'Ring of the Mountain' to Monte Civitella and Castell'Azzara. These footpaths travel through the natural reserves of Pigelleto and Monte Penna.
- Trekking: along the marked routes in the province of Grosseto, trekkers can go to Pitigliano, Saturnia, Scansano and the Argentario area. The routes in Siena travel to Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano, Chiusi and the city of Siena. The Firenze-Siena-Roma footpath connects 25 Tuscan cities to Rome and crosses the forests of Mount Amiata and the fields of Monte Labbro.
- Horse riding: all of the marked itineraries in Mount Amiata can be travelled on horseback with special guides.
- Cycling tourism: for the vast majority of the routes in Mount Amiata however, it is recommended that cyclists use an all-terrain bicycle that can ride on both uphill and downhill asphalted and dirt roads. The five routes that travel up the Mount’Amiata are recommended for expert cyclists.
- Speleology: in the Sassocolato or Bacheca grottos, located in the natural reserve of Monte Penna, you can be a speleologist. Guided visits are organized by the Gruppo Speleologico l'Orso di Castell'Azzara.
How to reach Mount Amiata
By car: the easiest way to reach Mount Amiata is by car. From Rome (210 Km), take the A1 motorway Milano-Roma-Napoli and exit at Chiusi Chianciano Terme. Then go on towards Val d’Orcia and the Via Cassia. Another possibility from Rome is the Via Aurelia, traveling towards Grosseto, which then follows the direction for Siena; exit at Paganico, Mount Amiata. From Florence (120 Km), take the Florence-Siena highway towards Siena and exit at Paganico. From Pisa (210 Km), you can take the motorway towards Rome and then the highway until Grosseto (S.S 223 Grosseto-Siena towards Siena); exit at Paganico.
By bus: there are buses that connect Mount Amiata with Florence, Rome, Siena, Grosseto, Chiusi and a line for the transfers within this area.
By train: the nearest train station is Grosseto or Chiusi and then you must take a bus. The railway line that connect Mount Amiata to other cities are Milano-Firenze-Chiusi-Roma and Genova-Pisa-Grosseto. It is the cheapest way to reach Mount Amiata.
By airplane: Mount Amiata is not far from the international airports of Rome, Florence, Bologna, Perugia or Pisa.