Italy had many locations that take the breath away, the Alps and the Lakes spring to mind, but the Val d'Orcia in southern Tuscany can lay claim to the title of the garden of Italy. The Val d'Orcia has been declared an Unesco World Heritage Site not only for its extraordinary beauty and rich history but also for the local products grown in the fertile valley, and the delicacies produced in the hill top towns that dot the landscape.
The river Orcia flows from Siena down to Grosseto. The hills, vineyards and villages of the valley are the classic image of Italy. Row upon row of vines cover the rolling hills, producing Brunello di Montalcino, Italy's most prestigious wine. The red grapes are complemented by fields of corn, poppies and sunflowers, making the valley a visual feast.
Many towns in the Val d'Orcia are renowned for their local products. Pienza (La citta ideale) is famous for its beautiful Palazzo Piccolomini, and Pecorino cheese made from sheep's milk. Montalcino is celebrated for the quality of its vintage while extra vergine olive oil, a tradition long associated with the area, can be enjoyed at its source everywhere. San Giovanni D’Asso epitomises the very essence of Tuscany. A delightful medieval hill top village with its twelfth century castle, offering traditional bars and small shops selling excellent local produce. The town is also home to Italy’s only truffle museum. It's a landscape steeped in history with forts and medieval castles. The fortress of Castiglion d'Orcia and the castle of Radicofani, further south, are well worth visiting, and the Abbey of Sant'Antimo is a Romanesque jewel. Montepulciano sits gracefully on a ridge over the Orcia and Chiana valleys with its beautiful renaissance centre and delightful maze of lanes, arches and loggias. And the wonderful coastal resort of Castiglione della Pescaia is 100 km, while Lake Trasimeno over the border in Umbria is 40 km away.
One area of beauty is San Giovanni d'Asso, where scenes from many films, including the Gladiator, were filmed. In San Giovanni, Realpoint offers Podere Ampella, a lovely development with attractive benefits (main image above):
Benefits of Owning in Podere Ampella
- No status mortgages of between 50% and 60%
- 5 per cent rental yield. Fully booked in summer
- Property management service
- All villas completed
- Perugia airport 69 km
- UNESCO World Heritage Site
If you want to treat yourself soak up the atomosphere at a thermal spa, Bagno Vignoni and Bagni di San Filippo are just two of the many throughout the Val D'Orcia.
The Valley is also rich in truffles, porcini mushrooms and saffron, adding to the kaleidoscope of colours.
Val d'Orcia's classic beauty attracts second home buyers from around the world. A three bedroom, renovated stone farmhouse with surrounding land sells at around 2,350 Euro per square meter. Prices around Montalcino are slightly less at 2,150 Euro per square meter. Since 2016, prices in the Montalcino area have fallen while property prices in the Pienza area have increased. Properties that require renovation will be cheaper, but there is the cost of the work to take into consideration. In the centre of towns, prices vary from 2,000 to 2,500 Euro per square meter. There are always bargains to be had of course, and vendors are willing to negotiate on price, so in reality properties can be secured for less.
The area has an excellent transport infrastructure. The second home buyer has a choice of international airports at Pisa, Florence and Perugia. Frequent trains and two motorways (E35, SR2) mean getting there once you've landed is easy.
Culinary Tip: A delicious end to any meal is mature Pecorino cheese coated with honey and accompanied by pears.