SOUTH OF SIENA
Hiking Through Classic Tuscan Landscapes
This walking tour in the Amiata hills, a quiet area to the south of Siena, is designed for those who would like to do some slightly more challenging walking than our Treasures of Tuscany tour. This is an attractive, more remote landscape in which one of the noblest wines of Italy is produced; the Brunello de Montalcino. There is an abundance of hot springs, old castles and monasteries which bear witness to a glorious history and keep your interest in the day going long after the walking has ended.
he tour begins in probably Europe’s finest preserved medieval city – Siena, which has maintained its sense of place and dignity throughout the centuries. This Tuscan walk starts by crossing the fantastic ‘Crete Senesi’, a soft rolling ridge, topped in places by a lonely pine or oak tree and with cypress lined tracks leading off to distant antiquated farmhouses. Here the four seasons paint the hills with vibrant pastel colours and it is reminiscent of walking into a watercolour painting. Like a sudden apparition in the middle of a wood, we arrive at one of the most beautiful convents in Italy, the Convent of Monte Oliveto Maggiore. Here Benedictine Friars Order follow ‘good habits’, growing medicinal herbs and restoring antique handwritten books. Inside the Cloister, there are frescoe masterpieces by Sodoma and Signorelli. From pretty Buonconvento the route rises uphill through vineyards of San Giovese grapes to the defensive walls of Montalcino superbly sited with a castle dating back to 1361. Another peaceful walk takes you to St. Antimo Abbey, a unique Romanesque building where the chants of a community of French Gregorian friars echo in the mystic atmosphere. Next white roads and paths take you over the clear waters of the River Orcia and on to the hot springs at Bagno Vignoni frequented in Renaissance times by the likes of Lorenzo de Medici and the Popes. There is still a huge pool of healthy sulphurous water. The walk winds through more medieval villages to offer spectacular views as far as the Renaissance jewel of Pienza, a town, built by Pope Giulio Piccolomini, that reflects architectural perfection. Last but not least we arrive at the beautiful medieval town of Montepulciano in a vineyard-lined landscape.
nights/8 days -
In the lively and sophisticated town of Siena we stay in a comfortable 3* hotel, close to the city centre, within walking distance of the train and bus station.
Our 3* hotel in Asciano has its own pool. In
Buonconvento we overnight in a recently renovated 3* hotel in the centre of town. Our first choice in
Montalcino on night 3 is a 3* hotel in the heart of town, which offers a magnificent panoramic view and refreshing pool.
In Bagno Vignoni we stay in a 3* hotel overlooking the ancient thermal pool. The entrance fee for the thermal bath is included. In
Pienza we stay in a 3* hotel in the town centre, recently restored. Modern room comforts make the stay a high point of the tour. Montepulciano the last night of the tour is spent in a
small family run 3* hotel.
Bed and breakfast throughout in 3 star hotels with ensuite facilities. Triple rooms available.
Much of the route is marked with red and white signs; elsewhere it is necessary to follow the route descriptions provided together with the maps.
via Air: British Airways (BA) flights Gatwick to Pisa, by train from Pisa, via Empoli, in 2 hours or by bus from Florence in a little more than
1 hour. The tour ends in Montepulciano. Bus to Chiusi Scalo, train to Rome (2hrs), Florence (1½ hrs), or Pisa (3 hrs).