At dawn, the steam dissolves and the faint rays of sunlight shine through little by little onto a double row of cypress trees which, outlining the ancient farm road, zigzag up towards the hill’s summit. Here and there, like cliffs in a sea of grain, emerge the biancane, clay hills typical of the Lucciola Bella Nature Reserve, a couple metres high and surrounded by the smell of brooms. Even the calanchi wastelands are the result of a rapid erosion of the clayey land which, like the biancane, were forgone in favour of intense agriculture that has lead the fields to be tinted in June with flaming sunflowers. A different landscape compared to the one crossed by travellers who, urged by strong spiritual motivations, head towards Rome, the centre of Christianity, to pay homage to St Peter’s tomb. The pilgrims stopped at the Hospital of la Scala in Siena, near the town of La Foce, intersected by a branch of the via Francigena.
Before taking on the circular hiking trail, make sure to visit the splendid Italian garden of the Marquis Antonio and Iris Origo, built between 1924 and 1939 and based on the designs of the English architect Cecil Pinsent (visits can be arranged on weekdays with pre-booking). The view revealed from the formal lower garden is unparalleled: on the right, the “Vallerese Road”stands out, artificially symmetrical, while on the horizon you catch sight of the sunny Val d’Orcia.