The things to do and locations described below are a tiny part of what the Tuscan territory, or the province of Siena is able to offer visitors. The landscape, shaped by the continual work of the fields, will surprise you at every turn.
The only recommendation that we feel obliged to suggest is this: Take any road that diverges from the paved main roads! We are sure you will not get too lost, and equally sure that you will be grateful for the suggestion.
Pienza and Val d'Orcia are so popular and they have much to offer. Some places that you may not find in the guidebooks, however, deserve special mention.
We recommend a walk through Montichiello, where you will not find the crowds of Pienza, but you can enjoy a similar view and the same atmosphere that characterized Pienza twenty years ago.
For those wishing to enjoy a wonderful view from a balcony over the valley that runs from north to south, we suggest a trip to the Castiglioncello Trinoro. This requires a drive on dirt roads from the road that leads to Contignano and Radicofani and from La Foce (another highlight of Valdorcia).
Not far from Pienza, a place that deserves a special mention is the small village of Bagno Vignoni, famous for its thermal pool in the heart of the small town. A little further north, perched on a hill, you will come across the fortified village of Montalcino, famous for its prized Brunello wine. In all of these places it is possible to find the renowned cheese known as Pecorino di Pienza, whose taste and smell remain in the memory of many of those who visit these places.
Surrounded by fertile and productive soil, Montepulciano dominates the area from its perch 600 meters above sea level. All around are the hills that are home to vineyards that produce the famous Vino Nobile. Nearby Valdichiana is also famous for its "White Giant" - a huge bovine beast that provides the divine Chianina knows as the Fiorentina steak.
In the past they were the 'granary of Siena', now producing one of the most valuable wheats in Italy. Harsh terrain, barren and often wind-swept from the north, this beautiful landscape (in places seemingly lunar) is stunning in any season. Adding to the fascination of this area are the spas of Rapolano Terme, white truffles in San Giovanni d'Asso and erosions (gullies) that characterise the village of Chiusure.
In the vicinity of Chiusure, a special mention should be made of the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore. A little further to the west is the charming village of Lucignano d'Asso, reachable only by dirt roads ands inhabited by the residences of only a few families. From here you can reach, through the farmlands of Cosona, the characteristic villages of Castelmuzio and Petroio. Around these you can enjoy the landscape and atmosphere of the abbey of Santa Anna in Camprena (where parts of 'The English Patient' were filmed).
Dominating the region, is the undisputed queen - beautiful Cortona. It takes top honours as a tourist destination for its Etruscan origins and the dynamics of its cultural activities. Further north you will find the characteristic Castiglion Fiorentino, on the road that leads from the Cortona to Arezzo. To the west, are two perfectly preserved historic centers, Monte San Savino and Lucignano.