Hidden gems in Val di Chiana, a recommended itinerary
6 April 2018
If you are curious travelers and you cannot wait to find the scenic and artistic wonders of Val di Chiana, we suggest you a route that includes 4 lesser known charming towns, within a short distance from Montepulciano.
All these places are part of Val di Chiana Senese, this ideal itinerary starts from the nearest town (Trequanda, 21 km) to the furthest (San Casciano dei Bagni, 38 km).
As soon as you arrive in Trequanda, you will notice that the town seems not to have changed much over the centuries: historic walls, churches and medieval buildings testify to the importance that Trequanda had at the time of the Republic of Siena. The origins of the hamlet date back to the Etruscan era, as shown by archaeological findings from the III and I century BC.
Trequanda was also an important center for craft activities: here there were glass factories, dye-works and earthenware factories.
Start the walk from Piazza Garibaldi and arrive at the Castle, once the residence of Cacciaconti. Only the walls and the tower of the original Castle are still visible, furthermore houses an enchanting Italian garden and a large courtyard.
In the same square you can visit the Romanesque Church of Saints Peter and Andrew, where we suggest to see the works attributed to Sodoma and Sansovino, dating back to the XVI century. Outside the historic walls there is the church of the Madonna del Sodo, whose name derives from the poverty of the rents it had in the past. Thanks to a careful restoration, today it is possible to admire the fresco placed in the presbytery, depicting the Madonna with the Child.
The itinerary continues at the Torre del Molino a Vento, surrounded by a forest of holm oaks and cypress trees; this dovecote has a very particular structure, as it houses more than 500 nests arranged on a chessboard on the walls, designed for the breeding of pigeons travelers.
Sarteano is located on a plateau in Val d’Orcia, right on the border with Val di Chiana, defined as “a mirror of beauty, legends, the history of this part of Tuscany”, by Sarteano Living website (www.sarteanoliving.it).
The hamlet, moreover, has been awarded the Orange Flag, such as Montepulciano (for further info you can check our post: Montepulciano awarded with the orange flag), and boasts a wide range of activities to be joined at different times of the year, thanks to the many associations that enliven the town.
We recommend stopping at the castle, recently restored and immersed in a park of centuries-old holm oaks, and continuing towards the hamlet of Castiglioncello del Trinoro, known as the “terrace on Val d’Orcia”.
To complete the nature trail it’s a must visit the Pietraporciana Nature Reserve, characterized by rare species of shrubs, a green oasis that separates the two valleys and borders to the south with Monte Cetona.
The next stop is Cetona, a town that stands out for an important museum and an archaeological park that tell the origins of these places we have chosen for your itinerary.
The hamlet stands on the slopes of Mount Cetona and its name probably derives from an ancient parish church of the early Christian era. The itinerary we have chosen includes a visit to the Civic Museum of the Prehistory of Mount Cetona, where there is an exhibition of changes undergone by the landscape from the Paleolithic era, and a collection of archaeological finds dating back to the Prehistory, until the Bronze Age.
The Museum, located inside the Palazzo Comunale, hosts even temporary exhibitions on the same topic; the visit, moreover, you can visit the Belverde Archeological – Natural Park, connected with the museum and characterized by caverns that open up in the travertine rock, also used as burial and cult sites.
For information on visits check the website preistoriacetona.it.
San Casciano dei Bagni
In Tuscany, as you know, there are many thermal springs and this time we suggest you San Casciano dei Bagni, a place already known by the Etruscans.
The beneficial properties of sulfurous mineral waters are internationally renowned, in fact foreign travelers travel to San Casciano since 1400 to regenerate or cure themselves.
This place is ideal to achieve maximum relaxation at the end of a long hike, letting yourself be cradled by the thermal waters, a very nice experience that will enrich your holiday.
The historic center of San Casciano dei Bagni is worth a visit, thanks to the charming period buildings such as the Palazzo dell’Arcipretura, dating back to XVI century, Palazzo Comunale, which was originally the residence of the Podestà and the Torre di Celle, what remains of the citadel’s castle of Celle.
The strong point of this hamlet consists in its position, isolated compared to other tourist destinations, in fact San Casciano has maintained its vocation to quietness, to the slow rhythms that help to forget frenzy. Val di Chiana Senese has many surprises in store for those who wishes exploring one of the most evocative areas of Tuscany.