Abbadia d'Ombrone

Abbazia di Vallombrosa

Villa Arceno

Bardini Garden in Florence

Bernard Berenson

Boboli's Gardens

Il parco dei Mostri di Bomarzo

Villa Bottini

Castello di Brolio

Villa Cahen

Villa della Capponcina

Villa Capponi

Villa Medici at Careggi

Villa di Catignano

Cecil Ross Pinsent

Castello di Celsa

Villa Certano Baldassarrini

Certosa di Pontignano

Villa di Cetinale

Villa Chigi Saracini

Villa Farnese (Caprarola)

Gardens in Fiesole

Villa Gamberaia

Villa Garzoni in Collodi

Villa di Geggiano

Villa Grabau

Villa Guicciardini Corsi Salviati

Horti Leonini di San Quirico

Villa I Collazzi, Firenze

Iris Origo

L'Orto de'Pecci (Siena)


Villa I Tatti

Villa Medicea La Ferdinanda

Villa La Foce

Villa La Gallina in Arcetri

Villa Lante

Villa La Petraia

Villa La Pietra

Villa La Suverana in Casole d'Elsa

The Medici Villa at Careggi

Villa Medici in Fiesole, Firenze

Garden of Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Firenze

Villa Medicea at Poggio a Caiano

Medici Villas in Tuscany

Villa di Monaciano

Giardino degli Orti Oricellari | Firenze

Orto Botanico, Siena

Villa Orlandini in Poggio Torselli

Il Palazzone

Villa Palmieri and Villa Schifanoiai

Villa Peyron al Bosco di Fontelucente

Palazzo Piccolomini in Pienza

Villa di Pratolino

Villa Reale di Marlia

Villa San Donato in Colle (Bagno a Ripoli)

Villa Santini Torrigiani

Villa di Vicobello

Villa Vistarenni

Il Vittoriale degli Italiani

 
Gardens in Tuscany
             
 

A view across the garden towards a horizon dominated by the volcanic peak of Monte Amiata. View of the formal landscaping below the belvedere in the garden at La Foce in Tuscany. Areas have been divided off using buxus, a hedging plant that was as commonly used in Renaissance times as it is today.

 

Gardens in Tuscany  
       
   

Villa La Foce

   
   

The gardens and estate of La Foce constitute one of the most important and best kept early twentieth-century gardens in Italy. The property of La Foce lies on the hills overlooking the Val d'Orcia, a beautiful and miraculously intact valley in Southern Tuscany.

'We live on a large farm in southern Tuscany - twelve miles from the station and five from the nearest village. The country is wild and lonely: the climate harsh. Our house stands on a hillside, looking down over a wide and beautiful valley, beyond which rises Monte Amiata, wooded with chestnuts and beeches. Nearer by, on this side of the valley, lie slopes of cultivated land: wheat, olives and vines, but among them still stand some ridges of dust-coloured clay hillocks, the crete senesi - as bare and colourless as elephants' backs, as mountains of the moon. The wide river-bed in the valley holds a rushing stream in the rainy season, but during the summer a mere trickle, in a wide desert of stones. And then, when the wheat ripens and the alfalfa has been cut, the last patches of green disappear from the landscape. The whole valley becomes dust-coloured - a land without mercy, without shade. If you sit under an olive-tree you are not shaded; the leaves are like little flickering tongues of fire. At evening and morning the distant hills are misty and blue, but under one's feet the dry earth is hard. The cry of the cicadas shrills in the noonday.' [Iris Origo, War in Val d'Orcia' (1947), p.15-16 ]

La Foce is a re-created renaissance style garden designed by Cecil Pinsent between 1927 and 1939 for Iris Origo, a writer and horticulturalist. After moving to the area in 1924, the Origos dedicated their lives to the development and progress of the Val d'Orcia and its people.


   
   
Villa La Foce estate

'The Renaissance of the fifteenth century was, as its name suggests, a rebirth, a reworking of all areas of culture and thought. It was seen in the art and writing of the period,: in science, mathematics and philosophy and, in fact, all areas of human endeavour. That included the garden which, in previous times in Europe, almps~ always had a practical purpose, whether that be as a place to grow medicinal herbs or as a small and temporary retreat from the challenges of the outside world. During the Renaissance, which started in Italy, particularly in Florence, before spreading to France, the garden shook off that practical mantle and became an artwork in itself, designed using newly discovered mathematical principles and reflecting the philosophies of the time. Not only did it function as a living artwork but the garden was also seen as a symbol of wealth
and power, created as much to impress as for personal enjoyment.
The power wasn't only directed towards those who stood in awe of the garden but also towards the land itself - Renaissance gardens, typically, were not limited by landforms but tried to express dominance over them. Starting with a clean slate and not influenced in the least by topography or existing vegetation, designers, with access to the most brilliant engineers of the time, created their ideal gardens, which were formal and stylistic in design. House and garden were designed as one, and how that translates to re-creating a Renaissance garden today is that the house is often used as a starting point for the garden, with axes drawn from a particular detail- the roofline, the physical centre of the building or some other architectural feature.
Straight lines and symmetry are essential elements of a Renaissance garden, forming the basis around which to work. The key is to be quite linear in your approach, using a long axis as the framework, with garden 'rooms' formed off that. The main difference between the Renaissance garden and its later counterparts is in the type of plants used. The Renaissance garden consists of very few plants, and those that are used are usually in the form of hedging which, as part of its function, separates one garden room from another. Detail is found in the craft of hedging, which can include very elaborate parterres, rather than in the interesting arrangement of plant types; it's a demonstration of horticultural skills rather than, as was later the case, the owner's adventures around the world. Colour in the Renaissance garden comes in the form of occasional annuals or strategically placed urns of flowers, but these should be used judicially and not overdone.
Buxus and yew were common hedging plants in those times, and still are today. Escallonia is another possibility. In the past, gardeners and owners had to wait for years for the garden to grow - now, when we're l,lsed to instant gratification in all aspects of our lives and are not prepared to wait for anything, it's possible to buy, admittedly at a price, a 4-metre-high (12-foot-high) clipped plane tree hedge in order to create a garden immediately. You may think that takes away some of the enjoyment and satisfaction of gardening -but, these days, patience isn't necessarily regarded as a virtue.
The grander Renaissance gardens were a reconstruction of the world, often dissolving into nearby woodland and including staged spaces for hunting, not something you'd find in many modern reinterpretations. What you do find, though, is often a walled area close to the house used as a kitchen garden, planted with vegetables, herbs and often roses or other flowering plants.'[3]

 
 

 


The gardens of La Foce

 

After buying their new home, Antonio and Iris employed the services of English architect Cecil Pinsent. Iris already knew Cecil as he had worked on her mother's house, Villa Medici, in Fiesole, and the nearby house of friend Bernard Berenson, Villa I Tatti.
On these two properties Cecil had proved not only that he could design and redesign a home, but also that he was also talented in creating landscapes.

Bernard Berenson and his wife Mary bought Villa I Tatti in 1905. In 1909 they commissioned the English architect Cecil Ross Pinsent (1884–1963) to supervise a series of extensions and alterations to Villa I Tatti, as well as to design a garden and supervise its planting and construction with the help of the English writer-scholar Geoffrey Scott (1884 – 1929).
 
The Pergola


A wooden pergola supports a purple flowering wisteria over a stone path


The famous winding road with cypresses

 

The famous cypress road that winds up a hill, one of the most photographed views of Tuscany. But they also have a story, for they were planted by Marchese and Marchesa Origo (the writer Iris Origo) as part of a scheme to improve the landscape of what was then among Italy's most desolate regions. They also, no doubt, softened the view from the masterpiece the idealistic young couple created nearby, at what had been until their arrival a wayside inn: one of the most dramatic twentieth-century gardens.

K

The cypresses that twine up a hill side near Chianciano Terme have become an emblem of Tuscany. But they also have a story, for they were planted by Marchese and Marchesa Origo as part of a scheme to improve the landscape of what was then among Italy's most desolate regions


La Foce has also become a centre for cultural and artistic activities. Castelluccio (literally little castle), a mediaeval castle on the property, is the home of an international music festival, Incontri in Terra di Siena. It also hosts art exhibitions, as well as courses on garden history and landscaping.
Each summer, the cultural association La Tartaruga organizes art shows at the medieval castle Castelluccio. The curator, Plinio de Martiis (known for his important gallery in Rome) has in recent years brought the work of renowned artists such as Kounellis and Manzoni to Castelluccio, as well as promoting young, less famous artists.

Incontri in Terra di Siena
is a not-for-profit cultural association, in memory of Antonio Origo and his wife Iris, the well-known Anglo-American writer.
Based at Villa La Foce and the nearby medieval castle, Castelluccio, Incontri's aim is to spread the appreciation of music and art through concerts, meetings, and artistic events held in the many beautiful neighbouring towns that include Pienza, Radicofani, Cetona, Città della Pieve and San Quirico d'Orcia.
The Incontri in Terra di Siena chamber music festival has branched out, gathering regional and international support. It is a key part of a wider initiative to sustain the area, the passion that originally drove the Origos.

Incontri in Terra di Siena | www.itslafoce.org

 

Castelluccio

Map

   
 
   

Villa La Foce enlarge map



Villa La Foce Estate | La Foce - 61, Strada della Vittoria -53042 Chianciano Terme - Siena | www.lafoce.com

Richard Maxwell Dunn, Geoffrey Scott and the Berenson Circle: Literary and Aesthetic Life in the Early 20th Century, Edwin Mellen Press, 1998, ISBN 088946927X, 9780889469273


[1] Iris Origo, a plain girl who turned herself into a woman of great elegance, was, by all accounts, an obsessive writer. "She always wrote in the morning and came down to lunch in a terrible mood as she had to stop," her daughter Benedetta recalls. Several of her books were international bestsellers when published and many remain in print decades later. Origo is best known for her diary, War in the Val D'Orcia, and her ability, as critic and biographer Quentin Bell put it, "to bring even mountains to life," in her biographical work, such as The Merchant of Prato: Francesco Di Marco Datini – Daily Life in a Medieval Italian City, which enabled her to convey the vivacity of long-dead Italian personalities. In 1947, Origo persuaded Count Gamba to let her have access to his great-aunt's papers; the considerable cache resulted in her internationally acclaimed book, The Last Attachment, an intimate account of Lord Byron's affair with Baroness Teresa Guiccioli.

[2] Villa I Tatti | The famous art historian, Bernard Berenson, bought the Villa I Tatti in 1905 and (in 1909) commissioned two Englishmen (Cecil Ross Pinsent and Geoffrey Scott) to re-design the garden. Scott was famous as the author of a book on The Architecture of Humanism. Pinsent was a young and unknown architect. They began work at a time when Arts and Crafts designers, inspired by Blomfield, Sedding and others, were filled with enthusiasm for Italian renaissance gardens.The results of their work has many renaissance features, and a friendly pastiche charm, but it does not have the disciplined 'feel' of a genuine renaissance garden. It is now owned by Harvard University and they have a very restrictive policy regarding garden photography.
The famous art historian, Bernard Berenson, bought the Villa I Tatti in 1905 and (in 1909) commissioned two Englishmen (Cecil Ross Pinsent and Geoffrey Scott) to re-design the garden. Scott was famous as the author of a book on The Architecture of Humanism. Pinsent was a young and unknown architect. They began work at a time when Arts and Crafts designers, inspired by Blomfield, Sedding and others, were filled with enthusiasm for Italian renaissance gardens.The results of their work has many renaissance features, and a friendly pastiche charm, but it does not have the disciplined 'feel' of a genuine renaissance garden. It is now owned by Harvard University and they have a very restrictive policy regarding garden photography.
Art in Tuscany | Bernard Berenson
[2a] The surviving documentation suggests that, while Pinsent was certainly the maitre d’oeuvre for this job, he had to contend with patrons who had clear ideas about what they wanted their garden to look like. Both Mary Berenson and Bernard did not fail to ask their architect for some substantial modifications to his original project, which intervention was all the more understandable as this was Pinsent’s first major commission.
Work on the garden of Villa I Tatti began with the construction of a little house at the bottom of the property to house the head gardener, and a large cistern sunk into the ground at the very top of the garden to provide a more adequate water supply for the planned plantings. This cistern, fed by spring water that still ensures the water necessary for the garden, was above all destined to keep the Berensons’ "English lawns" flourishing in a climate that was hardly favorable to such a luxury.
In the Spring and Summer of 1912 the intricate pebble mosaics (still much admired) were completed on the landings of the staircase of the Italian garden and in various other parts of the garden. Work in the garden continued well into 1914, although it was to come to a halt in late August due to the beginning of the First World War. Fears of a conflict that would involve all of the peninsula, combined with apprehensions with respect to possible difficulties in transferring funds, stopped most of the building activity at that point in time. When work was resumed some years later the garden was finally brought to completion, with only some small modifications that did not significantly alter the construction and plantings that had been accomplished before the war. [Gardens | Villa I Tatti | www.itatti.harvard.edu]
[3] Myles Baldwin, Period gardens: landscapes for houses with history, with photography by Simon Griffiths, Sydney, Murdoch Books, 2008
[4] The writer Caroline Moorehead, met and interviewed Origo for a feature in the Times in 1988 and later decided to make her the subject of a biography. "I was a little daunted when I began," Moorehead says, "I worried that I wouldn't have anything to add, as Origo had already produced such an excellent autobiography. But although she was such a remarkable woman in many ways and a fine biographer, she was also most discreet and retiring, and in the course of researching her, a lot of riveting and totally unexpected stuff came up."
"What a fine long journey we have travelled together!" Iris wrote to Antonio in a 1976 letter to be read in the event of her death. It was premature. She outlived her husband, but the challenges had already been considerable: a harsh terrain, superstitious Tuscan villagers and a war that made itself felt with air raids, prisoners of war, orphans and evacuees, partisans fighting German soldiers in the hills. She also had two girls to bring up, an estate to run, a job to do, books to write as well as a husband to attend to and travel extensively with (Egypt, Libya and Cambodia were among their destinations).
The Moorehead biography quotes the intimate correspondence between Iris and her lover Colin MacKenzie and her later affairs with the British novelist Leo Myers, who killed himself in 1944, and, in her 50s, with William Hughes, the chief of staff to the general commander of the Allied Forces ("I'm too old to be doing this sort of thing, darling," she is reported to have said to a friend in a Scottish pub during a rendezvous with Hughes). That Antonio had mistresses is presented as a given.
The unresolved torment of her son Gianni's death aged seven from meningitis also aches through the biography. Unsettlingly, Moorehead also alludes to Antonio's sympathies with Mussolini's fascist government, which subsidised the extensive development of La Foce's land, while revealing Iris's sense of alienation from her husband's political proclivities. But, as Moorehead concedes, Antonio never comes through clearly in the documents and photographs left behind. He remains a strong but undefined presence and there is a hint that Origo, ever aware of the reconstructive powers of the biographer, a woman who was, for example, at pains to type up and preserve correspondence with her lover MacKenzie, was keen to keep him as such."
[From Iris Origo: the author honoured by a music festival, by Selma Dabbagh, The Guardian, Friday 6 July 2012 | www.guardian.co.uk]
Further reading: Nicholas Fox Weber, Under the Tuscan Sun, New York Times, July 21, 2002 | www.nytimes.com





Tuscan Holiday houses | Podere Santa Pia

 
 
   
Podere Santa Pia
Podere Santa Pia, garden
Cortona
         
Montepulciano, San Biagio
Montepulciano
Pienza
Villa I Tatti


Villa Arceno gardens

Abbey of Sant 'Antimo
Villa La Pietra, near Florence
         

Tuscany, in most people’s mind, evokes appealing images of a centuries-old civilization, a place where nature itself appears tamed and enhanced by the presence of man. in contrast, the val d’orcia comes as a shock to the stranger driving south from chianciano toward the via cassia. The traveller suddenly reaches the top of a pass overlooking a wide valley below: this is la Foce. everything that can be seen from here appears conceived on a larger scale, very different from any other place in Tuscany.
The property of La Foce lies on the hills overlooking the Val d'Orcia, a beautiful and miraculously intact valley in Southern Tuscany.
The area of Val d'Orcia is a part of the agricultural landscape of Siena, which was developed and redrawn when it was made a part of the city-state in the 14th and 15th centuries. Val d'Orcia's landscape, with its fortified villages and small towns, is typical of the area and had inspired several artists. Named to UNESCO's World Heritage Site list, Val d'Orcia is famous for its representation of the Renaissance's ideal landscape and good government.
The area spreads from the hills south of Siena towards Monte Amiata. The region is characterized by cultivated hills dotted with gullies and small, charming villages and towns like Pienza, Radicofani and Montalcino, famous for its wines, Montepulciano, Monticchiello, and Bagno Vignoni, with their cultural, historical and artistic treasures. The area is of Etruscan origins, and many of the burial sites that are open to the public have only been discovered recently.



Montepulciano


Montepulciano, is built along a narrow limestone ridge and, at 605 m (1,950 ft) above sea level. The town is encircled by walls and fortifications designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder in 1511 for Cosimo I. Inside the walls the streets are crammed with Renaissance-style palazzi and churches, but the town is chiefly known for its good local Vino Nobile wines. a long, winding street called the Corso climbs up into the main square, which crowns the summit of the hill.

The name of Montepulciano derives from Latin Mons and Publicianus ("Mount of Publicianus").
Based on tradition, Montepulciano, has been founded by Porsenna, king of the Etruscans, although the oldest documents that testify to the existance of the city date from 714-715 A.D., when a "Politioum Castle" was cited in the documents regarding a dispute between the bishops of Siena and Arezzo for the possession of eighteen parishes.

The Duomo was designed between 1592 and 1630 by Ippolito Scalza. The façade is unfinished and plain, but the interior is Classical in proportions. It is the setting for an earlier masterpiece from the Siena School, the "Assumption of the Virgin" triptych painted by Taddeo di Bartolo in 1401.

In Piazza Grande, the heart of the town, is Palazzo Comunale. It is a 13th century building which was reworked in the 15th century by Michelezzo and is quite simple in form, with Guelph merlons and solid corbels. It is quite similar to Palazzo Vecchio Florence in structure and from the top of the bell tower there is an beautiful view of the surrounding countryside. There are also palaces in the piazza, such as Palazzo Contucci and Palazzo Tarugi (attributed to Giacomo da Vignola) as well as the Cathedral which has an unfinished façade. Inside, the Cathedral there are three aisles with arches and pillars, and a triptych of the Annumption by Taddeo da Bartolo.

As in Cinigiano, Calici di stelle is the main summer event in Montepulciano. The Strada del Vino Nobile offers an enogastronomic tour in the various Quarters of Montepulciano with wine tastings and a typical dinner under the guidance of expert Sommeliers and never the less various entertainments and music shows.

In July-August there is Cantiere Internazionale d'Arte, an arts festival created by the German composer Hans Werner Henze. In August there are two festivals: the Bruscello takes place on the 14th, 15th and 16th, when hordes of actors reenact scenes from the town's turbulent history. For the Bravio delle Botti, on the last Sunday in August, there is a parade through the streets followed by a barrel race and a banquet to end the day.

 
Montepulciano, San Biagio
Montepulciano, Palazzo Publicco

The pilgrimage church of The Madonna of San Biagio lies just outside of the town of Montepulciano. Its symmetrical greek-cross plan reflects the High Renaissance drive towards perfection in a combination of squares and circles.
The church was begun by the architect Antonio di Sangallo the Elder in 1518 and is considered one of the first great examples of Cinquecento architecture.

The concept for a centrally planned church obsessed High Renaissance architects like Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Leonardo, thAntonio di Sangalloe Elder and the Younger, Bramante, and Michelangelo. This is based on the Vitruvian idea that man, which represents perfection, can fit into both a square and a circle. As man provides the measure for these forms, if we create a space based on a combination of these forms, we are likely to understand that space inherantly. So, many plans for churches in the Cinquecento were based on greek cross plans and tried to combine these perfect shapes. But, many ACTUAL churches do not! Due to the impraticality of not having a nave down which to process, architects and patrons often found the need to give the space a certain directionality by differentiating at least the apse. S. Biagio is in fact one of these cases, but it comes very close to the Renaissance ideal. As you can see in the ground plan, the whole complex except the rounded apse fits into a square that can be, of course, subdivided into smaller squares.
The church as it stands today took about a hundred years to complete, and in fact it was never finished according to plan. You approach it from the side that has a rounded apse. Going around to the right side, this would have been the facade, which was planned to have two identical towers. One tower was completed while the other stands as an odd, incomplete structure. The towers flanking this side would have provided a sense of directional axis towards the apse. The central core of the structure is articulated by three flat facades that appear to be identical; the rounded apse occupies the lower part of a fourth facade that also provides this repetition in design.

The interior is a a beautiful open space that, at certain times of day, is illuminated by dramatic directional light. The sense of symmetry is apparent as one observes the equal vaults on three sides. The interior is entirely decorated in travertine. Architectural elements like engaged columns and Doric or Tuscan pilasters offer repetition and division of space. The arches are punctuated by strongly extruding rosettes. The vocabulary is a specific ancient one that references the Basilica Aemilia in the Roman Forum, as has been observed by Lehmann in 1982.
[Phyllis Williams Lehmann, The Basilica Aemilia and S. Biagio at Montepulciano, The Art Bulletin
Vol. 64, No. 1 (Mar., 1982), pp. 124-131].

 

Montepulciano, San Biagio
Montepulciano, San Biagio

 


San Biagio, interior

Pienza

   
It was Pienza that Renaissance town-planning concepts were first put into practice after Pope Pius II decided, in 1459, to transform the look of his birthplace.

He transformed the original fortified village of Corsignano, a Piccolomini feud and Aeneas's birthplace, and renamed it Pienza by papal bull in 1462. The architect Bernardo Rossellino was commissioned to design the monumental piazza with its splendid cathedral and palaces, all built between 1459-64. A particularly good sheep's cheese (pecorino or cacio) is made in the district. Piazza Pio II , laid out by Bernardo Rossellino, is a remarkable example of Renaissance town planning. It shows the influence of Leon Battista Alberti, Rossellino's master. To one side of the beautifully paved piazza is an elegant well, also designed by Rossellino, flanked by two slender columns with finely carved capitals and an architrave.
Its luminous cathedral, Cattedrale dell'Assunta, houses panel paintings by the most renowned Sienese artists of the period.
The Duomo which dominates the center of the piazza, has a facade that is one of the earliest designed in the Renaissance manner. Though the tripartite division is conventional, the use of pilasters and of columns, standing on high dados and linked by arches, was novel for the time. The bell tower, however, has a Germanic flavor as is the layout of the Hallenkirche plan, a "triple-nave" plan where the side aisles are almost as tall as the nave; Pius, before he became pope, served many years in Germany and praised the effects of light admitted into the German hall churches in his Commentari.[2] Works of art in the duomo include five altar paintings from the Sienese School, by Sano di Pietro, Matteo di Giovanni, Vecchietta and Giovanni di Paolo.
Next door, the imposing family residence Palazzo Piccolomini is graced with a loggia offering a fabulous panorama over val d' orcia.
The town hall and the Palazzo Vescovile (Bishop's quarters) with its museum display homogeneity of style.The church dedicated to San Francesco (13th century), the city walls and the austere Pieve di Corsignano, first documented in 714, all date back to the medieval ages. The monumental center of Pienza is the Piazza Pio II, living example of the utopian ideal city designed by humanists architects of the fifteenth century. The square contains all the main buildings of the village, the Cathedral, the Bishop's Palace, the Palazzo Piccolomini, Municipal Palace, the Palazzo Ammannati and a fine 15th century well.

The Pieve of Corsignano (parish church), just outside of Pienza (less than 1 km)
is one of the most important Romanesque monuments of the area. Pope Pius II was baptised in this 11th century Romanesque parish church on the outskirts of Pienza. It has an unusual round tower and a doorway decorated with flower motifs.

 

Piccolomini garden

Pieve di Corsignano

Monticchiello is a small centre in the heart of the Orcia valley whose beauty derives from its geographical position and the harmonious integration of its medieval architecture
Monticchiello is one of the most picturesque villages in the heart of the Val d'Orcia. Monticchiello still has its original city walls, towers, and castle, while the main site is the 13th century gothic church, which contains a beautiful altarpiece.

Teatro Povero

Every year since 1967, the ancient village of Monticchiello has been transformed into an entirely original theatre stage. The community enacts itself by means of a theatrical representation which Giorgio Strehler defined as “self-drama”. Here, the theatre originated in the square, and it is indeed the square, which represents the – even ideal – centre of the village that in summer houses the performances “created, written and performed by the people of Monticchiello”.
The topics dealt with have as their background the current events of the community and their roots in the past: the rustic culture, for centuries the expert on life, swept aside by the advance of progress, wars, old and new, with their ravages, the false myths pursued and never attained. They narrate themselves so as to understand themselves and other people, to try to understand how events in the world are progressing.
At Monticchiello, the theatre is also identity, testimony, civil commitment, and – thanks to the cultural excitement that accompanies it (collateral initiatives, exhibitions, meetings, study days) – constitutes an important instrument of social aggregation for the inhabitants and the devoted members of the audience. During the winter months, there is discussion on the theme to be dealt with, and preparation is begun of the texts and sets. Later on, in the square during the summer rehearsals, the ideas take on form and the contents are consolidated. Thus, the proposal of the “Teatro Povero” is born day by day.
It is performed every evening for three weeks, from the end of July till the middle of August.

 

 
Monticchiello, one of the towers

Castiglioncello del Trinoro is a tiny village on a cliff overlooking the Orcia Valley, between La Foce and Sarteano, on the hill of Pietraporciana, a protected beech-wood has proved to be of special interest to the Italian botanical society.
Castiglioncello del Trinoro is a typical medieval village, a small collection of houses around a castle perched on a high ridge overlooking the Orcia Valley.

Monteverdi Tuscany
Via di Mezzo, 53047 Castiglioncello del Trinoro

 

La Foce, the road to Monticchiello
Pietraporciana Nature Reserve covers the top, the northern side, and part of the southern side of the homonymous hillock (847 m), belonging to the ridge that, between Chianciano Terme and Sarteano, separates Val d’Orcia from Val di Chiana, linking up southwards with Mt. Cetona. An unusual low-altitude beech tree wood grows in the Reserve: it takes advantage of the coolness and humidity dominating the upper part of the northern slope of Poggio di Pietraporciana, at the shadow of the calcareous cliffs outcropping at the top.
One of the worthwhile places to see while in the reserve is the tiney hamlet of Castglioncello sul Trinoro, this tiny ‘borgo', which is perched atop a high hill, offers a breath taking panorama of the entire Val d'Orcia.

On the northern side of the reserve there is a beautiful woods of beech, a relic of the ice age, which is the host for two species of plant particularly rare in Italy, the Belldonna, with its poisonous blue fruit and the Fusaggine Maggiore (Spindle tree).

On the south side of the mountain is the Mount Cetona. This is the limit of the Val d’Orcia. From here on starts the Val di Chiana. Sarteano, Monticchiello, Chianciano and Pienza are all at a relatively short distance. Therefore you can easily incorporate a portion of the park in your biking tour in Val d’Orcia.
The route is about 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) long, although you can take various detours that will lead you to different sides of the mountain. The entire park can be easily crossed within a half day.

Riserva Naturale di Pietraporciana (it) (341 ha)


 
View Natural Reserve in Tuscany of Pietraporciaia in a larger map
 
Podere Santa Pia, morning view on the Maremma from the northern terrace