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The poetry of Val d'Orcia, with roads and cypresses along the river

From the vineyards of Montalcino to the hills of la foce while enjoying the magic of Val d'Orcia


Departure:
The meeting of the Orcia and Asso waterways, Municipality of Montalcino
Arrival:
La Foce, Municipality of Chianciano Terme
Distance:
28 km
Duration:
about 5 ore
Notes:
This spectacular itinerary features a number of rest and service stops

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

MONTALCINO - LA FOCE
This is a journey into harmony, down trails that seem to sail over ridges amidst cypresses, time-worn farmhouses and the geometric landscape. Wide-open spaces and unforgettable views accompany our ride through this worldly paradise up to Ghino di Tacco's stronghold. This unrivalledvantage point offers a breathtaking panorama over Terre di Siena, from Val d'Orcia to Monte Amiata and from the Crete to Monte Cetona.

 

1° Leg

THE MEETING OF THE ORCIA AND ASSO WATERWAYS - BAGNO VIGNONI (FIRST LEG)
Distance: 10,2 km
Duration: about 2 hours

This itinerary starts from the point where the Orcia and Asso waterways meet and travels through the enchanting Parco Artistico e Naturale della Val d'Orcia. The starting point can easily be reached from San Quirico d'Orcia. From the valley we climb up through woods and geometric fields toward the Santa Barbara and Caggiolo farmhouses, with ever more evocative views over the Orcia valley at its narrowest point. We then reach the fine Castello di Ripa d'Orcia which contributed to the defence of the Sienese Republic from the second half of the 13th century onwards. In 1438 Ripa d'Orcia became a definitive part of Siena's holdings. The castle is undoubtedly worth a stop and consists of an impressive square tower surrounded by a circuit of irregularly-shaped walls with a single entrance. From here we briefly climb toward San Quirico d'Orcia, ride around Ripa d'Orcia's cemetery and then descend toward the Orcia river opposite the Le Mulina farm. We pass through an old travertine marble quarry and reach Bagno Vignoni, one of the most scenic hot spring resorts in Terre di Siena. In spite of all the battles, attacks and fires that Val d'Orcia witnessed during the Middle Ages, this village has remained largely unchanged. Bagno Vignoni boasts one of Italy's most unique town squares. In fact, this "liquid" square is actually an impressive Medieval swimming pool filled with bubbling water that exits the spring at a temperature of 52 degrees. The pool essentially fills the square, surrounded by a 1.5 metre-high wall on three sides. All around are buildings designed by Bernardo Rossellino in honour of Pope Pius II, while on the fourth side is the archway from which St. Catherine of Siena admired the view. This place also fascinated Lorenzo il Magnifico of the Medici family, who spent part of 1490 here. The old Francigena road passes near the village, and as the diary written in 1581 by Michel de Montagne confirms, pilgrims and travellers heading toward Rome frequently stopped in Bagno Vignoni to find comfort in its hot springs.

 

2° Leg

BAGNO VIGNONI - LA FOCE (SECONDO TRATTO)
Distance: 16,5 km
Duration: about 3 hours

From Bagno Vignoni we go down to the Via Cassia (Strada Statale 2) to again reach the course of the Orcia river. We follow the trails along the river and cross the Tresa stream not far from the Castello di Spedaletto, an interesting fortified village important in Medieval times as a rest stop for pilgrims travelling to Rome. Now we travel down an open valley along the Orcia river until we near where it meets the Formone river. Wide-open spaces facilitate our ride to the farms of Poggio Meriggi, Torricelle, Casalta and Casanova. At this point we go down one of the most famous and photgraphed roads in the province of Siena, lined with cypresses that delineate its curves. We then reach the Strada Provinciale that links Monte Amiata to Cianciano Terme. We ride around a number of old farms (Sant'Antonio, Fonte al Gozzo, Fonte Tetta) and finally reach the Fattoria della Foce, a graceful Renaissance residence whose classic Italian garden and antique rose bushes may be visited on appointment. From here we easily reach Chianciano Terme and Val di Chiana.

 

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