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The aroma of Maremma, the red hue of Montalcino and mountain air

From Val di Merse to where the Orcia and Asso rivers meet just below mount Amiata

Località Carrotto, Municipality of Monticiano
Confluenza Orcia - Asso, Municipality of Montalcino
54 km
9 - 13 hours in 3 or 4 legs
There are several service and rest stops along the way


From the wild, pristine woodlands of Val di Merse we reach a little Far West in Terre di Siena at La Befa, a village consisting essentially of a railway station and a restaurant. The final stretch of the trip is rich with emotion, as we near Montalcino, which Alfonso Gatto once defined as "the window sill for the apocalypse" and the abbey of Sant'Antimo, set amidst olive groves and vineyards of the legendary Brunello wine.


1° Leg

Distance: 11 km
Duration: 2 - 2 and a half hours

From Monticiano a trail through natural countryside leads to Carrotto, near the Ferraia farm, where this spectacular itinerary begins its course, linking the mysterious silence of Val di Merse to the vineyards of Montalcino and the magical Val d'Orcia. The first part of this trip explores the pristine surroundings of the Ornate stream. Having crossed it, we continue onward toward Iesa. Staying on the trail is relatively easy, thanks to the signposting installed by Monticiano's Pro Loco. Once on the asphalt, we turn left and encounter the main square in Iesa 1 km later. Although not widely known, this is an area with a long-standing love of horses. In fact, a group of intellectuals full of enthusiasm and proud of their autonomy decided here in 2001 to synergise their knowledge and experience of horses and how we relate with them. The result was "Equitare", a specialized publishing house that aims to avoid pigeonholing its research and instead mixes knowledge, trends and a world of customs regarding our coexistence with horses to optimize their impact. Iesa is a perfect place to stop for a meal, and even the most demanding palates will be satisfied. From the town square we proceed toward Quarciglioni, leaving the asphalt behind and heading toward the Merse river, which we reach 3 km later. At this point we follow the signs for Petriolo, a historical hot spring resort. The earliest record of "Bagni di Petriolo" dates back to 1230. In June of that year the municipality of Siena sent a notary public called Bonfilio there to compile a list of all those "qui iverant ad balneum" (enjoying the waters). In 1404 fortification walls were built around Terme di Petriolo, which today is the only surviving example of fortified hot springs. Famous for the curative properties of its sulphurous water, Bagni di Petriolo was patronized by many illustrious people of the time, such as members of the Medici and Gonzaga families, cardinals, dukes and most notably, Pope Pius II, Enea Silvio Piccolomini.


2° Leg

Distance: 7,2 km
Duration: 1 - 1 and a half hours

Once on the asphalt road, just after Petriolo several trails run parallel to the asphalt as far as the crossroads for Montepescini, which is about 1 km ahead. The road for Montepescini is unpaved but quite busy, and passes next to the farm estate Il Santo. Near Montepescini we return briefly back on the asphalt before taking the dirt road for Casabianca.


3° Leg

Distance: 7,1 km
Duration: 1 - 1 and a half hours

We proceed as far as Poggio Cenni farm and then leave the main road for the trail marking the historical aqueduct from Vivo d'Orcia to Siena. After just a few hundred metres we turn right and continue along the main road, crossing first railroad tracks and then a bridge. A few kilometres later we reach the Ombrone river and cross the bridge over it, now at the Murlo railway station in La Befa. In the midst of this tiny station and village the rest of the world seems light years away, creating the ideal scenario for enjoying Terre di Siena at its most authentic. This is the perfect time to let the horses rest and walk down the old mine trail, one of the most beautiful ways to discover the Murlo area on foot.


4° Leg

Distance: 29 km
Duration: 5 - 7 and a half hours

From La Befa we easily reach the bridge at Pian Petrucci, thus again crossing the Ombrone river, a historical waterway that flows toward the wild plains in Maremma. At this point the itinerary heads toward and up the hill of Montalcino on the trail that rises as it runs along the Strada Provinciale di Castiglion del Bosco as far as Passo del Lume Spento, where it crosses the paved road from Sant'Angelo in Colle to Montalcino and begins to descend, first for Villa a Tolli (about 2 km from Montalcino) and then reaching Castelnuovo dell'Abate and the abbey of Sant'Antimo. The final stretch of this itinerary is rich with emotions. We pass near the hill of Montalcino, a natural lookout spot over Tuscany. This luminous highland offers a breathtaking panorama. Between the village and Lume Spento, on a clear day you can see as far as Casentino with Chiusi della Verna, Abetone on the Tuscan Appennines, and even the Alpi Apuane, Elba island, Giglio island, the Tyrrhenean sea, Corsica, the Umbrian Appennines and Terminillo. But most importantly, here we are surrounded by venerable Brunello vineyards, which have made Montalcino famous around the world. This trip finishes where the Orcia and Asso rivers meet, in the heart of the Parco Naturale e Artistico della Val d'Orcia.


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