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The peaks of terre di Siena as far as Ghino di Tacco's stronghold

From the Crete to Val d'Orcia by way of monte Cetona


Departure:
Torrenieri, Municipality of Montalcino
Arrival:
Radicofani
Distance:
104 km
Duration:
17 - 20 hours in 4 legs
Notes:
The itinerary features several places to eat and rest stops along the way, as well as waterways and drinking stops for the horses throughout

DOWNLOAD THE TRAIL'S INFO WITH MAP IN HIGH RESOLUTION (PDF)


TORRENIERI - RADICOFANI
This extraordinary itinerary crosses the Sienese countryside from north to south, connecting the Crete with the Val d'Orcia and passing through the lush vegetation of Monte Cetona. These lands embody the concept of landscape as art, reaching absolute perfection in Val d'Orcia. We ride over hills and across wide-open valleys overlooking a landscape sculpted by wind, water and the toil of man.

 

1° Leg

TORRENIERI - MONTICCHIELLO (FIRST LEG)
Distance: 23 km
Duration: 4 - 5 hours

Questa direttrice nasce nel cuore della Val d'Orcia, laddove le Terre di Siena sono ampie, ondulate e solari. Nella storia di Torrenieri i viaggi a cavallo sono un'antica tradizione. Passava qui infatti l'antica "Via Romana postale da Firenze a Ponte Centino" alla quale poi si sovrappose la "Via regia postale". Per la precisione Torrenieri nell'800 era l'ottava posta dove si cambiavano i cavalli per proseguire alla volta di Radicofani (undicesima posta) e Pontecentino. Il paesaggio disegna profili dolci e netti e, già dalla partenza, l'impatto con l'ambiente delle crete è decisamente forte tra strade bianche e cipressi. Ci troviamo non distanti da San Giovanni d'Asso, patria del tartufo, conosciuto anche come l'"oro bianco delle crete". Da Torrenieri si segue la vecchia Cassia in direzione di San Quirico d'Orcia per circa 600 metri, su asfalto. Si attraversa il ponte sul torrente Asso, si lascia il cimitero a destra e pochi metri dopo, ancora a destra si imbocca una carrabile sterrata verso i poderi Triboli di Sopra e Montechiari in posizione molto panoramica. Si prosegue ora su una strada sterrata che scende lungo dolci ondulazioni punteggiate da isolati cipressi, si passa sotto la nuova Cassia fiancheggiando un boschetto di cipressi a forma tondeggiante, isolato in mezzo a collinette coltivate, molto spettacolare e molto fotografato, un'icona delle Terre di Siena. Si arriva a San Quirico d'Orcia transitando per i poderi Oria Bianca e Belladonna. La presenza di posteggi con piante subito fuori del paese favorisce una sosta per rifornimento e per una rapida visita del centro storico dove si consiglia di visitare la Collegiata e il Palazzo Chigi. L'itinerario continua lungo un breve tratto di asfalto in direzione di Pienza poi piega a destra attraverso i poderi Cernecchio, Casabianca, Poggio Bacca, San Tito, Colombaio. Questo tratto del percorso si snoda lungo un saliscendi che asseconda i profili del territorio caratterizzato dalle tipiche crete con belle vedute sulla campagna e sulle cittadine circostanti. Immersi in questo magnifico paesaggio si raggiunge l'antica Pieve di Corsignano (si può visitare rivolgendosi al custode che abita a fianco) e successivamente Pienza. L'ingresso a cavallo dentro la città non è consentito. Si lasciano quindi i cavalli lungo la strada asfaltata di circonvallazione e in pochi minuti si raggiunge a piedi il centro della città. Pienza merita una sosta . Si consiglia di raggiungere la Piazza Pio II con la Cattedrale, il Palazzo Vescovile, il Palazzo Piccolomini e il Palazzo Comunale. La città si presta anche ad una pausa pranzo o spuntino a base di pecorino di Pienza. Si prosegue per la strada di circonvallazione in direzione di Monticchiello presto visibile su una collina di fronte. La strada sterrata, in forte discesa nel primo tratto, si snoda lungo suggestivi calanchi di argilla e sullo sfondo del borgo fortificato. Si superano alcune case coloniche (Casa Andrei, Podere Lucignanello, Casa al Piano) per giungere ai piedi di Monticchiello. L'ingresso a cavallo nel vecchio borgo non è consentito; se ne raccomanda, però, una visita a piedi. Monticchiello si trova in magnifica posizione sulla Val d'Orcia e offre possibilità di sosta con eventuale cena, pernottamento e posta cavalli, in uno degli agriturismi lungo la strada.

 

2° Leg

MONTICCHIELLO - FONTE VETRIANA (SECOND LEG)
Distance: 32 km
Duration: 5 - 6 hours

From the crossroads just below Monticchiello, following a brief stretch of asphalt road, a country path continues on toward the La Piana, Collo Sodo, Querci, Croce and San Giovanni farms. The road then descends toward the Orcia river, encountering the agritourism estate Le Checche. Having reached the Strada Provinciale at the bottom of the valley, we turn left. After about 300 metres of asphalt we turn left again into an unpaved road that wriggles through clay hills, rising up to the Poggio Meriggi, Torricelle, San Bernardino and Casa Nuova farms, the last of which also offers agritourism. Now the itinerary descends an old access road lined with cypress trees that trace its curves till it reaches a paved road. We cross this, and once beyond the Sant'Antonio farm, we reach an area called Osteria. Food and a rest for the horses may both be had. When we proceed, we find that our surroundings have changed dramatically. We now ride in the shade of oak forests that cover the hills separating Val d'Orcia and Val di Chiana. Villa della Foce appears after 300 metres of asphalt, where we turn left and climb up to Pietraporciana (consecrated by local W.W. II resistance fighters) and reach Le Crocette with its picnic area. At this point a detour lengthening the itinerary by about an hour leads to the tiny village of Castiglioncello sul Trinoro (food and rest for the horses is available) and travels around it, overlooking Val d'Orcia, Monte Amiata and the western slope of Monte Cetona. Otherwise, 500 metres after le Crocette, the itinerary veers left into the Pineta di Castiglioncello sul Trinoro, travels down a short stretch of highland and then reaches the signposted caves of San Francesco, worth a short stop. At the end of the descent, we turn right at the crossroads for Sarteano, where food may be had and the horses may be rested. We cross most of the town on minor paved roads that present little danger until we reach the entrance of the thermal pools (with about 600 metres of asphalt). To the left of the entrance we take a path that circles the pools and a campground, ultimately reaching Strada Statale 478. Another 100 metres of asphalt to the left, then we turn right for Podere Campitelli. The path moves up through the forest, passes a quarry and proceeds parallel to the Strada Statale from Sarteano to Radicofani on the right at altitudes from 650 to 750 metres, finally reaching Fonte Vetriana, an old rural village below Monte Cetona. Here the local agritourism estates can arrange a meal, an overnight stay and accommodation for the horses.

 

3° Leg

FONTE VETRIANA - CELLE SUL RIGO (THE EAST AND WEST SLOPES OF MONTE CETONA - "FROM VAL D'ORCIA TO VAL DI CHIANA") (THIRD LEG)
Distance: 25 km
Duration: 4 hours

As we leave Fonte Vetriana, inhabited since prehistoric times for its spring and amenable location, we take the unpaved road on the left for San Casciano dei Bagni. While keeping on the main road we see Borgo Fastelli and Fonte Renza on the right. This last village is still inhabited and is one of the last settlements on the mountain. We now leave the main road, turning left uphill for Valle Saccaia, and once inside the woods we may admire the vegetation at an altitude of about 800 metres. The itinerary crosses the mountain from the west slope (with the Parco Archeologico e Naturalistico del Monte Cetona and the Parco Naturale e Culturale della Val d'Orcia) to the east slope facing Val di Chiana. Once beyond the Casanova and Valle Saccaia farms, we encounter a forest of oaks, live oaks and hornbeams, while the woodland floor hosts an infinite variety of ferns, rose hips, cuscus and hellebore as well as flowers including Mediterranean orchids, cyclamen, wild geraniums and bellflowers. The rich vegetation on these slopes, with all its colours and variety, creates the impression of a rock garden. Having reached the mountain's asphalt road, we turn to the right down about 600 metres of asphalt and encounter a potential rest area signposted as "I Cancelli". At this point we turn back to the last crossroads and now turn right for Camporsevoli. The unpaved road descends to the east and displays the morphological differences in the stratigraphy of the terrain here with respect to the western slope. After about 2 Km, just before reaching Camporsevoli (which is worth a stop), we take the road on the right that runs at midslope, offering some beautiful panoramas over Val di Chiana. Having passed the Elmino, Elmo and La Macchia farms, about 5 km later we reach Podere Le Murate and begin to see the lovely town of San Casciano dei Bagni. We turn right for a short stretch of asphalt, then turn left onto the unpaved road beyond Le Murate for Armatello. Straight on until we pass Villa Ostini on the left, then we abandon the main road and turn left for Armatello. This scenic ridgetop road leads to the Armatello estate by way of farmhouses and barns, eventually reaching the Balena farm. At this point we ride downhill on the dirt road on the right that enters the woods (not the gravel path). When we reach the field below, we keep left along the woods for a bit, then we descend to the right, aiming toward a solitary tree in the center of the field. We cross the hedge that cuts the field in two, and once at the bottom, (about 200 metres below) we encounter a trail for the paved road (Strada Provinciale della Valle del Rigo) and then turn right. After about 600 metres on the asphalt we take the first unpaved road on the left (before the bridge over the Rigo stream). Having crossed the Rigo, we keep to the left on the flat road. We cross the stream again and continue on through the woods that grows quite dense, but may be entered on horseback. Then there's a stream crossing, a bit of unpaved road and yet another stream crossing. The itinerary continues on the left, now uphill. The dirt road leads up to the abandoned Erosa farm. From here we keep right and take the unpaved auto road, rising to the left and then turning right into the road on the right with two cypress trees marked Il Poggio. We advise touring the town of Celle sul Rigo even on horseback. This "castrum de cellis" boasts a lovely tower, the Chiesa di San Paolo and impressive doorways on its historical buildings.

 

4° Leg

CELLE SUL RIGO - RADICOFANI (FOURTH LEG)
Distance: 24 km
Duration: 4 hours

The itinerary begins on the road for the Il Poggio riding centre, deviating into the unpaved road downhill on the left. At the first crossroads we turn left again. Having passed the farmhouse Casa del Rigo, we continue downhill and cross the cement footbridge. We continue straight on uphill, keeping to the right. Once beyond the Sargiunto farm and then the ruined Batetole farmhouse, on the left we find a shed used to house sheep. We leave the gravel road, turning left into the dirt road. This road goes straight up to the top of the hill, encountering the Colombaiolo farm, now in ruin but clearly once a beautiful villa with a private chapel and an access road adorned with centuries-old cypress trees. We proceed uphill and reach another farmhouse, as well as a crossroads where we turn left, admiring the Rocca di Radicofani on the left. Beyond the farm, marked by a large rock on the right, we take the parallel of the gravel road (which would lead to the Pian di Goro farm) and go straight on beyond the agritourism estate. We then go back onto the gravel road, passing next to Locanda la Palazzina, an old hunting lodge in a lush old park of cypresses and live oaks. The itinerary proceeds along the unpaved road downhill on the left, further ahead turning left again to cross a little stream. We now climb up through the woods as far as Madonna delle Vigne, a ruined church next to a restored farmhouse. Leaving the church behind, we continue down the gravel road on the left and pass more restored farmhouses. At the following crossroads we turn right and thus reach the paved road for Radicofani. Here we turn left, and following a brief stretch on the asphalt we take the first dirt road on the right, which leads to the city gate of the village of Radicofani. This road should be followed into the village toward the Rocca. The castle of Radicofani was built in the 9th century in a strategic location overlooking the Medieval Via Francigena and was later reinforced by the Anglosaxon Pope Hadrian IV to stop the onslaught of Frederick Barbarossa. The castle is worth exploring. On the way back, we suggest following the indications for the Medici Villa "La Posta" built in 1500 according to Buontalenti's design. We ride down a bit of paved road toward Rome, and at the following crossroads take the dirt road on the left. This is a stretch of the old Via Cassia, which later became the Via Francigena. The surrounding landscape is spectacular, marked by the ravines that are so characteristic here. Once beyond the ruined Casal Sarti farmhouse on the right, we leave the main road and turn left at the restored Casal Maestro farmhouse on the right. We proceed down the unpaved road as far as the abandoned Bernabè farmhouse. The itinerary now turns left, then shortly afterward, having crossed a cement footbridge, turns right and encounters another cement footbridge over the Rigo stream. At this point, passing over the same stretch of road travelled previously, we climb uphill and pass the farmhouse Casa del Rigo. We continue uphill to the following crossroads and turn right at the two cypress trees for the Il Poggio riding centre.

 

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