All About Southern Tuscany
Landscape and National Parks in southern Tuscany
Amiata 1738 m.
The outline of mount Amiata (1,738 m.) dominates the area and can
be easily seen from the hills near Viterbo, from the Trasimeno valley
and the Tyrrhenian coast; it is the only, real mountain in southern
Tuscany. Mount Amiata owes its origin to several impressive eruptions
which took place 300,000 years ago; it still has hot springs and
the typical fertile soil of volcanoes. From the height of 1000 metres
up to the peak, there is lush forest of beech, chestnut and oak;
you can enjoy it walking, horse riding or cycling, riding along
the marked trails, breaking your day with a picnic in the meadows.
The forests of Mt. Amiata have also been a resource of the local
population from the first settlers, from which they derived fruit,
wood and game.
The forest offers serenity and silence, tranquility broken only
by rhythmic beating of wood peckers. Mount Amiata is a natural habitat
for many species of fauna, birds of prey, wild boar, deer and squirrels
have perfect conditions to prosper. In the undergrowth you can find
mushrooms, strawberries and raspberries. On the lower slopes of
Maremma side, the high valleys of Albegna and Fiore have a milder
environment with olive groves, vineyards and pastures. On the opposite
side of Mount Amiata the tilled fields, the rows of cypresses and
the ravines of Val d’Orcia bring you back to the heart of
Parco Naturale della Maremma
visit the Maremma is to be in contact with nature. The Maremma is
outstanding for its many protected natural areas that offer the
chance to appreciate its wide variety of animals, insects and birds,
trees, shrubs and flowers and to enjoy its special light and scenic
beauty. The Nature Reserves aren't separated from the rest of the
territory, but are symbolic of an integral whole. The Maremma affirms
a way of life in harmony with nature and the rhythm of the seasons.
The Parco Naturale della Maremma encompasses the Monti dell'Uccellina,
running parallel to the coastline from Principina a Mare to Talamone
and was one of the first protected areas in Italy. Today the Province
of Grosseto can boast 13 Nature Reserves plus the various oasis
of the WWF. In all, there are almost 40,000 hectares of nature reserves
stretching from north to south. They provide a complex and detailed
vision of the wealth of the Maremma's natural heritage in all of
About 70 km from Florence is Siena. This pretty town is rich in
medieval architecture, and the city has the reputation of being
the best-preserved medieval town in Italy, with its many cobblestone
alleys and ancient piazzas. The historical part of the city is not
large, and can easily be explored by foot. Be sure to visit the
Duomo of Siena, one of the most magnificent cathedrals in all of
Italy. The cathedral has a very attractive black and white marble
facade and an inlaid marbled floor depicting various biblical events,
as well as carvings by Michelangelo. Siena also has numerous museums,
and there are frequent concerts featuring international musicians.
During the summer there is the famous “il Palio”, a
bareback horse race around the central piazza. The town is also
known for its delicious sweet desserts
The towns of Arezzo and Cortona are located on the easternmost part
of Tuscany. Arezzo is famous for its gold jeweler and antique
fairs. Arezzo houses some of the greatest of Italy's frescoes, including
the "Legend of the True Cross" (1452-66) by Piero della
Francesca. Close by lies the splendid hilltop town of Cortona, a
very picturesque mediaeval town in a excellent state of preservation.
The town's summit provides spectacular views of the villages of
southern Tuscany, as well as views of Lake Trasimeno.
Originally called "Castello di Corsignano", Pienza got
its original name in honour of Pope Pius II who, in the second half
of the 15th century ordered its renovation. He wanted to carry out
his utopian image of the ideal city. The small town is a jewel and
the Cathedral in particular merits a visit. In it one can see works
by Giovanni di Paolo and Matteo di Giovanni del Vecchietta. There
is also a marble altarpiece attributed to Rossellino, the architect
who was commissioned by Pope Pius II to redesign the city. Next
to the Cathedral is the Diocesan Museum where one can admire works
from the school of Sodoma and di Sano di Pietro and Flemish tapestries
of the 15th and 16th centuries. The beautiful Palazzo Piccolomini
is only a few meters away. It was designed by Bronzino and Beccafumi.
Below in the valley one can see the enchanting landscape of the
"Artistic, Cultural and Natural Park of the Val d'Orcia",
with its gullies, undulating fields and the famous cretaceous crags.
But Pienza itself remains largely unchanged since Roman times, and
other than being made famous for the filming of the Oscar winning
film, The English Patient, not much has changed in the last few
This splendid town known as "The Pearl of the 16th century"
because of its artistic and architectural vestiges has conserved
its beauty intact. As the visitor walks up its steep streets they
discover the beautiful buildings and churches where the best Renaissance
architects impressed their incomparable artistic talent. One shouldn't
miss the magnificent Piazza Grande, the Cathedral with its incomplete
façade, the Town Hall and the Renaissance buildings all around
the square. In the valley below, set in an unforgettable landscape,
is the elegant Temple of San Biagio.
Set on a hill 564metres above sea level, between the valleys of
the Rivers Orcia, Arbia, Asso and Ombrone in an area rich in woods
of oak and chestnut trees. Ever since the Bronze Age, the Etruscans
and Romans sought after this oak-covered mountain. Because of its
strategic position Montalcino was always at the Centrex of conflicts
between neighboring factions. In the mid-sixteenth century when
Siena surrendered to the Medici family, over four hundred Sienese
families in exile sought refuge in the free municipality of Montalcino
and, under the leadership of the Marshal Piero Strozzi, founded
the "Republic of Siena in Montalcino", drawing up laws
and civil regulations similar to those in nearby Siena. Between
the 17th and 18th century there was an economic boom due largely
to the large number of artisans working in the town and agriculture
also flourished giving this part of Tuscany the aspect that still
survives today. Even now the landscape is still dominated by rows
of vines from which the fine wines appreciated all over the world
are produced. Amongst these wines the place of honor goes to the
now famous Brunello di Montalcino
a typical landscape of olive groves and vineyards, San Gimignano
was already famous in Medieval times for its production of fine
wines. The town emerged towards the end of the 12th century and
was proclaimed a free municipality. The town is on three different
levels. The Rocca occupies the highest part of San Gimignano. Just
below it is the old pre-thirteenth century part of town which is
surrounded by walls and further down the fourteenth century part
which is in turn surrounded by walls. During the period when it
was a free municipality several buildings emerged around the Cathedral
square: the "Palazzo del Podestà" (with its large
arch and high Rognosa Tower); the "Palazzo del Popolo"
which houses important frescoes of the time and the "Torre
Grossa" (big tower) next to it. In the gallery of San Gimignano
(in the Town Hall) the "Madonna in Gloria tra i Santi Gregorio
e Benedetto" by Pinturicchio is of particular interest.
This is the main town in Maremma, situated 10 m. above sea level
on a reclaimed plain to the right of the Ombrone river, just before
this flows into the Tyrrhenian Sea. Situated in an area rich in
naturalistic and cultural value, the splendid Maremma coast, favored
the development of a cultivated tourism that respects the environment.
The area includes the Nature Park of the Uccellina and its beautiful
hinterlands, rich in archaeological sights and medieval towns.
Visit the historical village of Piancastagnaio which has the beautiful
church of San Salvatore and the mountain history museum. Piancastagnaio
famous for its incredible houses clinging to the side of a cliff
and protected by the fortress Aldobrandeschi, is named after the
splendid chestnut trees which surround the town. Visit of the old
town and the little Church of St Bartolomeo.
Pitigliano is a characteristic village that is situated on a rock
called “Tufo”. The name comes from the special mineral
of the rock. Here You will find old houses inside the rock with
a myriad of designs and formations. Sovana is a village known for
its Etruscan tombs, in fact it is know as the Necropoli Etrusca.
At Arcidosso you can visit the castle and the village. Visit Parco
Faunistico to discover the beauty of the Tuscan nature and wildlife.
You can visit the hot baths in Saturnia. The village of Roccalbegna
is known for its white limestone and it is the most important town
of the Amiata Maremma, surrounded by walls and towers, churches
and fortifications. Visit of the “Pietra” to get a beautiful
overview of the village. In Santa Fiora you will find small and
big squares, churches, fascinating streets and wonderful architecture.
Visit the historical old town “Borgo”, the church “Della
Pieve” famous for the splendid ceramics by Della Robbia.
December to March, Mount Amiata is one of the most organized winter
ski resorts in Central southern Italy. From the mountain top, you
can enjoy a superb and vast panorama. 15 ski facilities are available
at Prato della Contessa, Prato delle Macinaie, Marsiliana and at
Cantore. There are 15 Km of ski slopes suitable for beginners as
well as for advanced skiers; all the slopes are fitted with the
most modern facilities, besides which there are several cross-country
slopes. Monte Amiata is Tuscany's only real mountain, in contrast
to the famous rolling hills which attract thousands of visitors
each year. 30 ski Instructors work at the Scuola Italiana Sci Monte
Amiata which is located west of the 'Macinaie' meadow and where
ski equipment can be hired.
Maremma is bathed by a transparent sea along its long and multicolored
coastline of sunny beaches and rocky cliffs. The clear water of
the Maremma coast is the cleanest in Italy, 160 km of splendid coastline
offering endless possibilities for enjoyment. High cliffs alternate
with small isolated coves, long stretches of sandy beaches are screened
by lush pine forests. The coastline of Scansano, Castiglione della
Pescaia and Marina di Grosseto is a stunning mosaic of sea and beaches,
towns and citadels of timeless architecture. Here you can experience
the spell cast by the magical Maremma. The inland is prosperous
with naturally fertile farmland that yields high quality, genuine
produce. The area is home to rare types of fauna while the flora
thrive in the uncontaminated environment. The sea bathes a coast
where flowered beaches, sandy dunes and pine groves alternate and
open into coves with charming fishing villages while the excellent
cafes and restaurants are easily accessible from the beaches. The
large and accessible sandy shore of the Gulf of Follonica includes
coves such as Cala Martina and Cala Violina as well as the beaches
of Castiglione della Pescaia and Marina di Grosseto. It is the perfect
setting for those who love the sea and nature.
People of all ages can find the fun and diversion they are seeking.
It's possible to charter sailing boats or motor yachts, enjoy wind-surfing,
water-skiing and scuba diving. Sailing, motor boating and scuba
diving schools are available for all levels. The highly professional
diving centers offer the chance to discover and explore the animated
and colorful sea bed.
The extraordinary promontory of Monte Argentario with its small
coves and bays, is considered by dedicated scuba divers to be one
of most interesting zones in Italy for the abundance of fish and
a sea bed rich in coral and shells.
The Maremma coast has many facets: the mystical atmosphere of the
Orbetello Lagoon and the golden, groomed beaches of the Feniglia
and the Giannella lay not far from the Capalbio with lunar sand
and wild, untouched dunes making it unique. The Islands of Giglio
and Giannutri are rare jewels with rocky cliffs, fortresses, citadels
and towers clinging to the rocks which create a vision of time when
these ancient ports, like those of Orbetello and Castiglione della
Pescaia, were fortified. Today they offer a unique backdrop for
those searching for the very best the Mediterranean can offer.
Walking the undulating hilltops overlooking medieval Siena, past
vineyards and olive groves to the magnificent open vistas and sun
splashed landscapes of southern Tuscany.
Murlo and the Val d'Arbia – The walk starts south of Siena,
a panoramic route overlooking the Val d'Arbia. Take in the view
from the pool at Bosco della Spina, a renovated medieval villa with
spacious rooms overlooking vineyards and olive groves.
Asciano and the Sienese Crete - Enter into the beautiful clay landscapes
of Le Crete and its undulating hills with isolated brick villas
and farmhouses surrounded by tall cypress trees. Discover the quiet
fortified village of Buonconvento before a visit to the 12th-century
monastery of Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore to view its frescos
by Signorelli and Sodoma. Next day, walk to the undiscovered hilltop
village of Trequanda, for panoramic views overlooking the Sienese
Crete, the Valdichiana and Monte Amiata in the distance. Relax by
the pool at Casa Bianaca, an historic Sienese estate villa converted
into a luxury residence, before dining on local specialties in their
Pienza and the Val d'Orcia - Walk into the Val di Chiana, before
visiting a local Pecorino cheese producers, on the way to Montepulciano
for a sampling of its Nobile di Montepulciano wines and a visit
into its ancient underground cellars. Wander through the Renaissance
village of Pienza overlooking the majestic Val d'Orcia. Discover
this inspiring valley on your way to a picnic in the unique hamlet
of Bagno Vignoni with a Roman spa located in its village square
once frequented by Florence's Medici family and Saint Catherine
of Siena. Dine on delicious local specialties in one of Tuscany's
most celebrated countryside restaurants. Nostro Segreto, a luxuriously
stone Tuscan country guesthouse with an inviting pool and lush manicured
gardens overlooking the majestic Val d'Orcia.
Italy is not only the largest producer of wines, but above all
a producer of great wines.
Tuscany (Toscana) is known mainly for Chianti, while Tuscany's wine
of greatest stature is Brunello di Montalcino.
Its climate, soil and very old traditions make Italy a natural
wine growing nation. The wines are as personal as a name, as different
as the colors of the rainbow and as much a part of Italian life
as almost 3,000 years of tradition can make them. The Etruscans
of North-Central Italy, who created one of the peninsula's earliest
civilizations, left evidence of how to make wine. The Greeks who
soon after established themselves in the South gave Italy the name
Enotria (the land of wine).
For centuries wine growing has been the cultivation which used most
of the labor of the Italian farmers; this is still true today;
a large part of the population is engaged in the vine and wine industry.
The whole of Southern Tuscany is crises crossed with wine routes.
You can visit the various cellars sampling the dark, rich wine produced
by the region’s grapes or enjoy a refreshing glass of cool
white wine on a hot summer’s day. Furthermore the routes take
you through the some of the most outstanding areas of southern Tuscany.
The Montecucco Wine Trail runs through a vast area situated on
the slopes of Mount Amiata, which has its center at Cinigiano, lying
between the Maremma region and Amiata. The seven Comuni which produce
the Montecucco DOC wine are all to be found in the Province of Grosseto,
in South Tuscany, and are, besides Cinigiano: Civitella Paganico,
Campagnatico, Castel del Piano, Arcidosso, Seggiano and Roccalbegna
This area is situated in the south of the Province of Grosseto.
Starting from Capalbio the route takes you towards Magliano in Toscana
until reaching Scansano (red wine Morellino di Scansano). From Scansano
one goes north to Istia d'Ombrone. It is worth visiting Saturnia
and the natural thermal baths. Back towards the coast one can visit
Manciano and Orbetello. The DOC-wine Morellino di Scansano is a
red wine of a very intensive color that ideally goes with the typical
cuisine of the Maremma (game and mushroom dishes). Whereas the DOC-white
wine Bianco di Pitigliano is the ideal wine to accompany the typical
fish cuisine of the coast.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano (Siena)
San Gimignano is located North-West of Siena. This wine route starts
in the most southern part with Castel San Gimignano until reaching
the town of San Gimignano itself. The next stop is Pancole, followed
by Libbiano to the North-East. The wines of this area are the white
wine Vernaccia di San Gimignano, the red wine Chianti Colli Senesi,
the red wine Colli dell'Etruria Centrale and the white wine San
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
The area of the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is situated between
the Val d'Orcia (Orcia Valley) and the Val di Chiana (Chiana Valley)
and borders Umbria to the east. The route starts in the north with
Abbadia towards Montepulciano, passing Cervognano, Acquaviva until
S. Albino. The wine matures for two years in casks before the wine
can be called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The Rosso di Montepulciano,
classified as DOC-wine is not aged for two years in wood barrels
and is intended for the immediate consumption.
Taste typical dishes made
from wild boar, pasta, salami, mushrooms, chestnuts, olive oil of
Seggiano and mouth watering desserts.
Fairs and Festivals
The calendar year is full of festivals and fairs, and serves as
testimony to Amiata’s rich cultural heritage. We begin with
the “befanate”, or “Epiphany witches”, celebrated
by the towns people of Saragiolo, Castell’Azzara, and Semproniano,
and by the villagers of the Tre Case and Marroneto, on the evening
before Epiphany (January 5th). Groups of people, masquerading as
old women, wander the town streets. They sing traditional songs
and call on neighbors, who are expected to extend hospitality in
the form of food and wine. Father Christmas is a post-war import;
traditionally, it was the befana who brought treats and presents
to children, and always on the eve of Epiphany, not Christmas day.
The next important holiday is Carnival. In Marroneto, the locals
celebrate with a traditional dance in which the representational
Carnival figure is slain by hunchbacks (il ballo dei Gobbi).
During Holy Week (Easter), the “Guideata” in Piancastagnaio
on Good Friday is particularly spectacular.
Then there are the spring festivals: the Pina festival of the Lamulas
parish church (the first Sunday after Easter), the Holy Cross (Santa
Croce) festival (the 3rd of May) in Semproniano, and the “Maggiolate”,
held on the 30th of April in Castiglion d’Orcia.
The most important festival is the “Palio”: a horse
race which is typically conducted bare-backed and in medieval costume.
Well-known local “Pali” include that celebrated in Piancastagnaio
on the 18th of August, and in Castel del Piano on the 8th of September.
An interesting variant is the Palio degli Asini (“Donkey Race”)
held in Vallerona the first Sunday in October.
fairs include Campiglia d’Orcia’s Sagra del Marrone
(“Chestnut Feast”) and Piancastagnaio’s Crastatone
(“The Great Chestnut Roasting”), the Festa del Fungo
(“Wild Mushroom Festival”) in the village of Bagnolo,
located in the township of Santa Fiora, and Arcidosso’s Festa
della Castagna (“Chestnut Festival”).
On the 24th of December, Abbadia San Salvatore hosts the Fiaccole
di Natale (“Christmas Torches”), while Santa Fiora’s
Fiaccolata, held December 30th, features the lighting of huge bonfires
erected throughout the historical district. San Rocco is a huge
fair held in Santa Fiora on the 16th of August. Castel del Piano’s
largest annual fair is held September 9th, following its Palio
Coming from the north: Milan and Bologna the A1 motorway will take
you into the heart of Southern Tuscany.
Coming from Rome you take the A12 and then the A1
Excellent rail services from Milan, Bologna, Florence and Rome to
By Air :
Distances calculated to Seggiano.
Milan 466 km
Pisa 200 km
Bologna 271 km
Forli 230 km
Florence 168 km
Rome 214 km
Other airports serving Southern Tuscany: Bologna Forli
here if you are interested in Fractional
Ownership Property in Italy.