This itinerary flies, literally, over the undulating formations of the famous Crete, one of the zones that best highlights the sensuous nature of the Sienese territory. Big sky country, land, flocks of sheep and farms, chapels and “borgos” of stone that emerge as though islands in the great sea of land. You’ll navigate on roads that follow unpredictable trajectories, designing a path in a landscape in continuous change: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. The same road traveled in different seasons will have very different aspects, changing colors, light and atmosphere.
From Siena you will leave straight away in the direction of Sinalunga-Bettolle. Shortly there after, at the intersection for Taverne d’Arbia, you’ll bare right, once over the bridge of the Arbia you will be in the town of Taverne. Welcome to the Laurentana, one of the most spectacular roads in the province of Siena. This ribbon of road travels almost constantly on the crest of the hills, caressing the landscape of the Crete where it’s possible to smell the perfume of the land the wheat. You will be up high, flying, before coming down to earth in Asciano, a small “capital”. Within the heart of this borgo the grand space of the Land of Siena becomes all of a sudden smaller and delimited by the opera of mankind.
The small village of Asciano begins with the basilica of Sant’Agata (XI AD with modifications in the 15th, 16th and 18th centuries) and proceeds with the museum of scared art which conserves a collection of art work from the 13th and 14th century, Taking the main street of Corso Matteotti, the heart of this small town you will come to the gothic church of San Bernadino(the site of the Etruscan museum) and the church of Sant’Agostino of the late gothic period. Beautiful for the essential style of its architecture is the church of San Francesco (XIII AD).
From Asciano you will climb back towards the profile of the hills that herald the upper village of Chiusure from where, with a slight detour, you may reach the Abbacy of Monteoliveto Maggiore, one of the more important stops along this trip. The Abbacy is the spiritual center of this territory whose expression is found in the supreme and refined art in the frescoed cloister with works by Sodoma and Signorelli. Don’t miss the magnificent inlaid wooden choir by Giovanni da Verona.
Back in Chiusure, you’ll continue on until reaching San Giovanni d’Asso, the reign of the white truffle which is celebrated in the traditional Market Fair, held every month of November in theCastle that rises from the “Borghetto”, the highest part of the town.
The church of San Giovanni Battista is worth a visit and in the lower part of town, the church of San Pietro Villore (XI-XII AD). The road will now relax and without curves and twists will continue on in the valley of the Val d’Asso until reaching the foot of the perfumed hills of theBrunello, where the town of Montalcino rises from the plains. After a short stretch on the Cassia you’ll turn right and start climbing in amongst the vineyards until reaching the top, Montalcino.
So, just as one savors a fine wine, so does this borgo offer itself to meditative visits. There are many enoteche (wine emporiums) cafès and artisan’s shops to explore, the time will slip quietly away. The nobility of Montalcino is there to see, the Palazzo Vescovile, the churches of Sant’Agostino, Sant’Egidio and San Francesco (all from XIII and XIV AD) as well as the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso.
From Montalcino you will proceed towards the Passo del Lume Spento where you’ll cross over the shoulder of the hill and begin to descend through vineyards until reaching Sant’Angelo in Colle. From here you will be looking out over both the Val d’Orcia as well as the dormant volcano of Monte Amiata. Our itinerary finishes here but we highly recommend that you continue on to visit the extraordinary Abbacy of Sant’Antimo and the nearby borgo of Castelnuovo dell’Abate.
Where to stay in Siena
There are numerous high quality hotels, villas, apartments and agriturismi (Farm stays) available in Siena, check them out and make a reservation here.