One of the best ways of discovering this high-vocation wine-producing area, situated to the south-east of Siena, is by hiking. Montepulciano and Chianciano Terme represent without doubt an ideal starting point to discover the aromas and flavours of the Valdichiana, along with its natural, cultural and historical attractions.
Montepulciano, a village renowned for the quality of its wines, is an excellent link for the high ground of the valleys of Orcia, Ombrone, Mount Amiata and the Cetona. In fact, from the Palazzo Municipale’s tower, in the east you catch sight of the healing hydromineral springs of Chianciano Terme and the small lakes of Montepulciano and Chiusi, while towards the north-west you admire the belt of 14th-century walls of Buonconvento, the monumental Fortress of Montalcino, the solitary abbey of Mount Oliveto Maggiore and Pienza. After admiring the rolling white clay hills, we descend from the tower to visit Montepulciano’s works of art, considered by many the “pearl of the Renaissance”.
The splendid town of Chianciano Terme rises in the east, with its springs once appreciated by the Etruscans and Romans. In the famous thermal centre, rich with healing waters, the brilliant director Federico Fellini set “8½”, while Pirandello’s “Novelle for a year” first took shape here.
Outdoors, there are three unmissable protected areas: the Pietraporciana Nature Reserve, in the district of Chianciano and Sarteano, that at 800m of altitude guards a beech grove over a century old; the Lucciola Bella Nature Reserve, near Pienza, where the Pliocene hills give the landscape a rugged but evocative appearance; and the Montepulciano Nature Reserve, where in the namesake lake – like the one in Chiusi –many birds, both migratory and sedentary, live, which provide joy to those practicing wildlife photography and birdwatching through lenses and telescopes.