Tuscany is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Known for its enchanting landscapes, its fantastic and genuine food and beautiful towns as Florence, Pisa, Lucca and Siena. Podere Santa Pia is located in the heart of the green hills of the Valle d'Ombrone, and one can easily reach some of the most beautiful attractions of Tuscany, such as Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano and San Quirico d'Orcia, famous for their artistic heritage, wine, olive oil production and gastronomic traditions.
Hidden away from mass-tourism, discover a piece of Italy which remains largely unchanged both nature and lifestyle-wise. The peacefulness of the countryside, the various unique villages and the friendly atmosphere will no doubt pleasantly surprise you.
Nestled on a rural hillside in the province of Siena in central Tuscany, Podere Siena is old farming cloister, located along the historic Via Francigena, the medieval pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome. The Via Francigena was first mentioned in the 3rd century and is Europe's oldest route of pilgrimage. After leaving England, it winds for roughly 600 miles through Arras, Rheims and Lausanne before reaching Tuscany and some of Italy's most beautiful landscapes.
Hospitals, abbeys and churches were built for pilgrims to stop along the way, as well as bridges to ease trade between Italy and northern Europe.
Those interested in exploring the Tuscan part of this ancient road should start south of Siena, along the Via Cassia and into the Val d’Arbia towards Isola d’Arbia. Just outside town is the church of Sant’Ilario, which was a popular stopping point for pilgrims on their way to Rome. After about 10 kilometres there is Buonconvento, a small hamlet that was once a strategic outpost of the lands governed by the Republic of Siena.
Of the many lodgings that existed for pilgrims, some still survive today as agriturismi, or farmhouse residences. Towards Montalcino, the Abbey of Sant’Antimo is definitely worth a stop, before arriving at the Medieval town of San Quirico d’Orcia. The renowned thermal baths at Bagno Vignoni are not far from here.
After Bagno Vignoni the road continues towards the fortresses of Castiglion d’Orcia (Rocca Aldobrandesca) and Rocca d’Orcia, with its magnificent Rocca a Tentennano. Still further south stands Monte Amiata, with its chestnut forests. The most important town on Monte Amiata is Abbadia San Salvatore, where there is also the Abbey of San Salvatore. The Via Francigena leaves the region of Tuscany here and continues towards Rome, often including sections of the Via Cassia.
Radicofani is characterized by the presence of the Rocca, which dominates the Orcia valley from south. The Rocca was built during the first years of the Middle Ages and then amplified during the years: it was of military relevance since the 18th century when eventually was destroyed by an arson. The tower that can be seen from everywhere in the valley, has been rebuilt in the XIX century. The Rocca is rich of historical and literary memories concentrated on the figure of the legendary master Ghino di Tacco whose life was described by Dante and Boccaccio.
The village of Radicofani maintains the original structure and keeps nearly intact its architectural characteristics of the thirteenth century. In the Romanic Deanship of San Pietro you can find a precious collection of glazed earth ware and some beautiful wooden statues. Always in the old village it is possible to admire the Magisterial Palace and the church of Sant’Agata.
Outside the built up area rises the Palazzo della Posta (The Post), ancient shooting lodge of Ferdinando I, built in the sixteenth century.
Abbadia San Salvatore was built around the homonymous Benedictine Abbey and during the years has become one of the most important political and economic centres of the Amiata.
The foundation of the Abbey was motivated by the creation of the Francigena road, or Romea, born as a safe way among the biggest Longobard cities. The Abbey of San Salvatore remained powerful and economically flourishing for all the thirteenth century: in 1299 it lost its temporal power, but it survived until 1782 when the Grand Duke of Tuscany suppressed it. In 1939 the Abbey returned to the monks’ property and they promote the works of restoration. Not very far from the Abbey there is the most ancient part of the town called the “Castellina”; in the south part there is the borgo “Castello” (Castle), of more recent origins, where there are the Palazzo del Popolo and Podestà (Palace of the People and Podestà), the church of Sant’Angelo (Saint Angel) and the church of Santa Croce (Saint Cross).
The church of San Leonardo (Saint Leonard) is situated beyond the old walls and not far from the ancient centre you can admire the churches of Madonna dei Remedi and Madonna del Castagno (Our Lady of Restore and Our Lady of the Chestnut). Going on along the mountain near the summit you can find the small church of Ermeta, surrounded by a beautiful wood.
San Casciano dei Bagni is a very charming medieval village located in southern Tuscany, 20 minutes drive from the A1 motorway (Rome-Florence) and the rail station of Chiusi (Intercity trains for Rome or Florence- Milan). The village has fine restaurants, shops, banks, pharmacy, etc.
This is an unspoilt part of Italy, recently being discovered by those who enjoy and appreciate either its quiet beauty, its central location between Rome and Florence, its flourishing artistic and social life.
The local ancient Roman Spa ( Fonteverde Natural Spa Resort), after undergoing an 8 year - $40 million renovation and development program, is one of the most appealing health farms in Europe. It now provides various hot spring water pools (indoors and outdoors) and any kind of health and beauty treatments.