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From fortress to fortress: tales and legends of the Val d’Orcia

Inherently fascinating, the Val d'Orcia protects the events that have taken place over the centuries, to be discovered with an adventure among villages and castles.

Stories, happenings, legends: the characters who have trod the soil of the Val d’Orcia performed deeds that still resonate in the area, handed down by the local population. This intertwining of events often lives on in the fortresses and castles that punctuate the horizon and that silently invite one to enter a true valley of adventure.

Among the ancient walls of the villages and fortifications, we find ourselves transported back in time, to the turn of the medieval centuries, and it is not difficult to call to mind images of battles, miracles and pilgrims. The strategic position of a number of places along the Via Francigena — the historic route connecting Canterbury to Rome — has meant that the Val d'Orcia has always been crossed by worshippers, marching armies, traveling merchants, saints and noblemen.

View over the Fortress of Radicofani
View over the Fortress of Radicofani - Credit: Mario Llorca, Unione Comuni Ambito Val d'Orcia

Following in their footsteps, one discovers beauties cloaked in compelling charm, such as the fortress of Campiglia d’Orcia, which has seen the emperor Federico Barbarossa pass by here in his search for the heretic Arnaldo da Brescia. Tradition has it that Santa Caterina da Siena received the gift of writing while in Castiglione d'Orcia, a guest in the Rocca of Tentennano; climbing to its summit, you can enjoy a view of the whole valley, which offers a view of the spectacular white roads, gullies and of Mount Amiata, a natural sentry.
Also famous is the story of Radicofani and its gentleman brigand, Ghino di Tacco, who took possession of the fortress and sowed fascination and awe throughout the surroundings.

Fortress of Montalcino
Fortress of Montalcino - Credit: Mario Llorca, Unione Comuni Ambito Val d'Orcia

The discovery of an adventurous and compelling Val d'Orcia cannot be separated from visiting the fortified villages. Some of these, such as Montalcino, Ripa d'Orcia and Torrenieri, developed precisely from castles and fortresses, the original structures of which they still preserve; among the best known is the Fortress of Montalcino, long a bulwark of Siena's power.

Throughout the area there are also small jewels, villages and hamlets that offer a walk through time, such as Contignano, Vignoni, Monticchiello and Spedaletto, ideal for a dive into ancient history and the lush nature that embraces them.

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