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La Basilica di Sant'Antimo

Leg 13: Ponte d’Arbia to San Quirico d’Orcia

In Sigerico's footsteps in the Val d’Orcia

Starting from Ponte d’Arbia, this 27.4 km leg takes about 6 hours to complete. After an initial level segment, the trail begins to ascend toward the perfectly conserved village of Buonconvento. Climbing further into the Ombrone valley, you follow a section of the via Cassia toward Montalcino, where Brunello vines cover the hillside.

Keeping to the unpaved roads, one reaches Torrenieri, with its church of Santa Maria Maddalena, mentioned by Sigerico. From here one enters into the panoramic Val d’Orcia, following the ascent until reaching the stopping point at the church of San Quirico d’Orcia.

Total length (km): 27.4 km
Accessibility: on foot or with mountain bike
Time on foot (h. min): minimum 6 hours
Climb in ascent (m): 513
Climb in descent (m): 258
Maximum altitude (m): 399
Difficulty: challenging
Paved roads: 44%
Unpaved roads: 56%
Mule-tracks and trails: 0%
Cyclability: 100%
How to get to the departure point: by way of the Siena-Grosseto train to the Buonconvento station, and bus line 112

Having left behind Ponte d’Arbia, one arrives at Buonconvento, which offers three hospitals and the security of a well-fortified town. Buonconvento is an agricultural center which grew up in the 13th century around the old castle of Percenna. Subsequently, the town entered into the dominion of Siena, which saw the 14th century construction of the walled belt, still in existence. The name Buonconvento—“Bonus Conventus”—signifies the assembly of people who gathered here, and who were attracted by the fertility of the land and the advantages of its good location. In Buonconvento, the Crete become ample and sunny, and cast their gaze towards a horizon which reaches for the heavens with the clear-cut profile of Montalcino and the large shoulders of Amiata.

The energies produced by water and by man have always given strength to this region, which marks the confluence of the Arbia and the Ombrone and, above all, the path of the ancient Via Francigena which cuts through the area. Buonconvento is historically a place of meeting, as well as conflict, and of exchange. And in its rectangular shape—delineated by an ancient walled belt—the buildings and monuments conserved therein give testimony to the city’s important past. On the façade of the old city hall, one can still see the 25 insignias of the magistrates who governed Buonconvento up until 1270.

Castelnuovo dell’Abate

Here one finds the Abbey of Sant’Antimo—jewel of medieval mysticism—which lies 9 km from Montalcino in the Starcia river valley, a tributary of the Orcia river. It is one of the most beautiful Romanesque monuments, recalling French and Lombardy styles—a magnificent church with three naves and a deambulatory with radial chapels. It is said that the Abbey was founded by Charlemagne, who, returning from Rome with his entourage along the Via Francigena, stopped in the Val di Starcia in order to avoid the danger of an outbreak of plague. It is said that the Emperor made offerings so that the scourge would cease, and in thanks for being spared, founded the Abbey of Sant’Antimo.

San Quirico d’Orcia
At the end of a very arduous track, one arrives in San Quirico d’Orcia, with its extremely ancient (8th century) parish church of San Quirico in Osenna.
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