The territory of the Merse Valley occupies the southwestern part of the province of Siena, the passage between the heart of Tuscany and the Maremma coast. The area is enclosed in the valleys of three rivers, the Merse, the Cecina and the Elsa, all found at the feet of the Metalliferous Hills. It is an oasis of silent forests, full of historical and artistic treasures: hermitages, hidden churches, convents and castles whose ruins are more or less well-preserved by the nearby towns of Casole d’Elsa, Chiusdino, Radicondoli, Monticiano, Murlo, and Sovicille. The richness of the natural environment and the variety of the landscape deserve to be discovered and enjoyed as they are unique, lesser-known jewels of the Siena landscape.
Among the traditional products of the area, the finest and most renowned are the Val di Merse's cured meats, with their extraordinary, delicate flavour. These are made with the pork of the Cinta Senese breed. The woods, rich in oak and chestnut trees, are abundant with mushrooms and chestnuts, which are commonly served with tasty dishes. Sheep raising has been widespread in the area for decades, and it adds its meat and milk to the local productions, from which Tuscan Pecorino cheese is made. The products that have represented the traditions of the area are the wines, like Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG and DOCG Reserve qualities, Vin Santo DOCG, which are produced and aged according to the rules of the Chianti Consortium. The area is also famous for its extra virgin olive oil for which many farms comply with the requisite of the Terre di Siena DOP label.
In addition to the most famous sites, like the Abbey of San Galgano in Chiusdino, the Gothic church of Sant’Agostino at Monticiano, the Romanesque churches and abbeys of Molli, Ponte allo Spino, Torri a Sovicille, there are many museums, such as the Etruscan Museum of Murlo; the Museum of Living Art in Casole d’Elsa; the Museum of Energy Resources of the Territory at Radicondoli; the Museum of the Woods in Orgia; the “Mill Path” tour in the Natural Reserve of the Upper Merse Valley; the route of the Old Miners’ Railroad in the mining village of Murlo.
An ideal itinerary visits each of the main towns of the six municipalities of the Merse Valley.