Property in Southern Tuscany is always in demand. A stone farmhouse in Val d'Orcia or Chianti, with olive groves and a cypress lined avenue, is the ideal image of a Tuscan home. There are also apartments on sale in the beautiful walled towns such as Siena, San Gimignano and Volterrra and luxury sea view villas in the Maremma, on the Tyrrhenian coast of Grosseto. Good accessibility with airports in Pisa and Rome, a highly developed infrastructure and all year round activities make southern Tuscany ideal for anyone looking to invest in their ideal place in the sun. Real estate in the south of Tuscany costs around 2,500 - 2,750 Euros per m2 for a fully renovated Tuscan property, more than in the north and east of Tuscany, but properties with pools can attract incredible rental income.
All About Southern Tuscany
Southern Tuscany is a jewel! The area provides both a cultural feast and a natural one. Monte Amiata provides a paradise for walkers in the summer and for skiers in the winter. The golden beaches of the Maremma coastline are bathed by a transparent sea and it is regarded to be the cleanest coastline in all of Italy. The hill towns and valleys of southern Tuscany are a wonderful and charming cross-section of Italy's charms, constantly offering striking views of the rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards of classic Tuscany.
Landscape and National Parks in southern Tuscany
National Parks in southern Tuscany
Monte 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 Southern Tuscany.
Parco Naturale della Maremma
Culture and History of Southern TuscanyTo 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 its diversity.
Towns of Southern Tuscany
Towns of Tuscany 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
Arezzo and Cortona
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 centuries.
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 faÃ§ade, 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
San Gimignano in TuscanyOverlooking 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 PodestÃ " (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.
Skiing in South Tuscany
From 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.
The Beaches of South Tuscany
The 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 in Southern Tuscany
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 renowned restaurant.
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.
Wine and Food of Southern Tuscany
Please see Our Guide to Wines in Southern Tuscany
Taste typical dishes made from wild boar, pasta, salami, mushrooms, chestnuts, olive oil of Seggiano and mouth watering desserts.
Fairs and Festivals of Southern Tuscany
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.
Autumnal fairs in south TuscanyAutumnal 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
Getting To Southern Tuscany
Coming from the north: Milan and Bologna the E45 (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 Siena.
By Air :
Milan 466 km
Pisa 200 km
Bologna 271 km
Forli 230 km
Florence 168 km
Rome 214 km
Contact us for an initial call, or send us your requirements, so we can suggest the perfect Italian home in southern Tuscany for you.