The first image that comes to our mind when we think about Tuscany is its unique landscape. The countryside with its green smooth hills and the soft curves lining the horizon with its isolated cypress trees. Well, believe me, Val d'Orcia is way better than any possible image that could come to your mind!
Val d'Orcia is the valley in Tuscany which extends from the hills south of Siena to Monte Amiata and it's the place where nature perfectly matches the aesthetics of Renaissance Art. A mix of beauty and breathtaking landscapes where the cultivated hills are sometimes broken by picturesque towns, villages, farmhouses, abbeys and shrines, all places populated by the pilgrims walking along the Via Francigena. This ancient and beautiful road connecting Rome to Canterbury is still walked today, here you will find more info about it.
Some of the Val d'Orcia towns are: Castiglione d'Orcia, Montalcino (the birthplace of Brunello wine) and Pienza also known for the typical Renaissance style architecture wanted by Pope Pious II, Radicofani, San Quirico d'Orcia, Monticchiello, Rocca d'Orcia, Montenero d'Orcia and San Giovanni D'Asso, a natural brigde between Crete Senesi and Val d'Orcia also famous for its tasty tartufo marzuolo.
Hot springs fans will find their heaven in Bagno Vignoni, Bagni San Filippo and Vivo d'Orcia. Last but not least, in the Val d'Orcia there are exceptional food and wines: DOC Orcia wine, pecorino cheese from Pienza, olive oil and saffron.
We are not susprised that The New York Times describes its beauty (even during winter time), but especially by the fact that this valley in 2004 was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. This international badge of recognition was awarded for Val d’Orcia's "exceptional reflection of the way the landscape was re-written in Renaissance times to reflect the ideals of good governance and to create an aesthetically pleasing pictures" and for the way "The landscape of the Val d’Orcia was celebrated by painters from the Scuola Senese, which flourished during the Renaissance".
This article was previously written by Erica Donolato.