a Val d'Orcia Tour

From San Quirico to Bagno Vignoni, passing through Pienza

Florence, Siena and Pisa are not the only destinations for a route in Tuscany.
Among the alternative trips, the tour of the Val d'Orcia is definitely very impressive. Following the ancient route of the Via Francigena, linking Canterbury to Rome, you can enjoy a mix of natural, artistic and historical beauty, which will leave you breathless.

The Val D'Orcia region extends from the hills of Siena to Monte Amiata. Lots of picturesque towns and villages populate this area, which was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 2014.
So, let's start our tour beginning from San Quirico d'Orcia, a small and charming village where you can also enjoy the Tuscan cuisine.

San Quirico d'Orcia

From San Quirico to Bagno Vignoni, passing through Pienza

San Quirico d'Orcia is characterized by the medieval architecture of its buildings and houses. Arriving at the village, the first thing you notice are the beautiful and ancient walls with fourteen towers, still well preserved. The eastern gate, called Porta dei Cappuccini, was built in the thirteenth century and is especially valuable for its decorations. Another masterpiece to see in San Quirico is the Colleggiata di San Quirico e Giulitta, located in one of the most amazing spots of the village. Finally, you can not miss the Horti Leonini, an Italian garden in Renaissance-style, built around 1500 on the land that Francesco I de 'Medici gave to Diomede Leoni. If you would like to stop in San Quirico for lunch, you can taste one of the typical dishes of the region, such as the "Pici", fresh pasta served with cheese and pepper.

Pienza

The next stop of our tour is Pienza, the most known city of the Val d'Orcia.
As well as the Val d'Orcia, Pienza was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, for its unique and peculiar architecture. The former name of Pienza was Corsignano, hometown of Enea Piccolomini also known as Papa Pio II. In 1462 Piccolomini decided to renovate his city and hired the famous Renaissance architect Bernardo Rossellino to do that. Their plan was to build an ideal city, following the Renaissance criteria of beauty. Thanks to them, today we can enjoy of astonishing architectural works.

Their masterpiece is the central square of Pienza, surrounded by amazing Renaissance buildings. The Cathedral, called Cattedrale dell'Assunta, is the most important work of Rossellino, especially for its scenographic frontage elegantly placed inside the square. Even though the Cathedral was built during the Renaissance, its interior has many features of the Gothic style. The town Hall is exactly on the opposite side of the Cathedral and it is recognizable for its porch with three columns. Two famous buildings are located close to the Cathedral: Palazzo Piccolomini and Palazzo Borgia, the bishop's palace.

Bagno Vignoni

The last stop of our trip may be in Bagno Vignoni, another medieval village characterized by its outdoor thermal pools, which are mostly free. This village is small, ancient and really striking: that's why it attracts lots of foreign tourists.
In the main square (Piazza delle Sorgenti) stands a huge sixteenth-century tub, filled with hot water both in summer and winter. The water flows from the square to the other pools and to the Parco Naturale dei Mulini di Bagno Vignoni, which takes its name from the four mills immersed in the countryside surrounding the village. The Spas of Bagno Vignoni are used since the Etruscan and Roman times, thanks to the proximity of the village to the Via Francigena, an important stopping point for pilgrims who wanted to reach Rome. Lots of restaurants, ancient houses and crafts shops surround the square: take your time to visit this village leisurely before ending the tour.

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