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From the Val d’Orcia to the Val di Chiana: great red wines

Travelling through the postcard-perfect landscape of the Terre di Siena

We start in the town of Brunello, Montalcino, a medieval jewel immersed in the Sienese hills. All you need to do is glance at the 14th-century Fortress - where you’ll now find a lovely wine shop where you can taste numerous labels - to immediately understand the medieval layout of the town. Montalcino deserves to be discovered slowly, walking unhurriedly past the steep side streets, beautiful palazzos and numerous gourmet shops.

CANTINA DI MONTALCINO. Cantina di Montalcino is right in front of the hill that hosts this small Sienese town, surrounded by meadows, olive groves and the vineyards of the Val di Cava, and along the percorso dell’Eroica, a historic cycling race. Territory, nature, technology and tradition come together in what is the only real winemaking cooperative in the area and which has about one hundred small member farms. The winery has been recently restored in an important architectural project that’s modern, but in harmony with the hills, to produce environmentally friendly wine.

SAN QUIRICO D’ORCIA. Continue towards San Quirico d’Orcia, following the Strada Provinciale 14. After about 15 minutes spent crossing storybook views of the Val d’Orcia - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - you’ll arrive at your destination. Don’t miss the Horti Leonini ­ - a beautiful 16th-century garden - and the spectacular Collegiate.

BAGNO VIGNONI. By taking the road south, you’ll come to the impressive Bagno Vignoni, a small medieval town with a thermal pool at its heart where, throughout history, famous names like Emperor Frederick II, Lorenzo de Medici and Saint Catherine have all taken a dip.

CASTIGLIONE D’ORCIA. Head back on the road south to visit the beautiful Castiglione d’Orcia, the jewel of the Crete Senesi. It’s an area characterised by clay soils, sloped with sinuous shapes and rounded hillocks. It’s a scene of rare beauty, dotted with unique formations known as “biancane” and “calanchi” - small hemispherical or conical domes that don’t have any vegetation.

PIENZA. Our next stop is Pienza, the perfect Renaissance city, for which you have to head back towards Bagno Vignoni and then take the Strada Provinciale 53. In less than half an hour, you’ll find yourself in the birthplace of Pope Pius II, the visionary creator of this gorgeous urban centre that respects the Renaissance construction canons and philosophies. Pienza took shape in just three years, from 1459 to 1462, and is a city “born from a thought of love and a dream of beauty”, as the poet Giovanni Pascoli put it.

MONTEPULCIANO. After this educative stop on quality oenology, you’ll be within reach of beautiful Montepulciano. The landscape the fills your car window just before you reach the town perfectly reflects the image we all have of “classic Tuscany”, the one used on postcards and made up of long stretches of green hills and fields.

Take the time to walk the strip that crosses the elegant urban centre and follows the hill past majestic Renaissance palazzos to arrive at the central piazza. A huge tower and the Gothic-style facade of the Palazzo Comunale dominate Piazza Grande, which is located at the highest point in town. In front of the town hall is the Duomo, which dates back to the 16th century. Despite its incredible beauty, Montepulciano is mostly known overseas for its Vino Nobile, one of the most popular Tuscan red wines worldwide.  

Head back onto the road to reach the last stop on our itinerary, the beautiful Cantina Salcheto, which is only a few minutes away. It’s a business modelled on integrated environmental management, that’s energy-independent and boasts world records in its Carbon and Water Footprint indicators. The estate stretches 65 hectares, of which 50 are organically run vineyards.

Find out more

Montepulciano Wine Trail
The Orcia Wine Trail

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG
Rosso di Montepulciano DOC
Vin Santo di Montepulciano DOC
Orcia DOC
Valdichiana DOC

Typical products
Extra Virgin Olive Oil PDO Chianti Classico
Extra Virgin Olive Oil PDO Terre di Siena
Chianina beef
Cold cuts made from Pork, Cinta Senese pork and Wild boar
Pecorino di Pienza
Truffles from the Crete Senesi
Pici pasta