We’ll meet and leave for Montalcino, an enchanting, almost fabulous old “borgo” from the Middle Ages. It is still completely surrounded by the original and imposing Walls, dominated by an ancient Castle that is a really perfect example of the finest architectural achievements of those ages. We’ll visit the historical center of the town, where the majestic Rocca (a stronghold built in 1361) rises, and, starting from it, we’ll take a short walk to the Museo Civico Diocesano d’Arte Sacra, the local Sacred Art Museum (holding one of the largest collections in the world of paintings and wooden sculptures of the Siennese School), the historical City Hall, and the many ancient Churches. But what is even more breath-taking in Montalcino is the grand view one can behold from the Stronghold’s ramparts: one can enjoy the sight of the Monte Amiata and above all of the famous Crete up to Siena, ranging over the whole Val d’Orcia and down south to the Maremma Hills. Mounds, slopes and sweet hills, some brown, but many covered with flowers and multi-coloured vegetation, centuries-old oaks, olive trees, and crop fields seem to extend endlessly to the sight, and in the midst of them old country roads wind among harmonious vineyards and lonely rows of cypresses.
The city of Montalcino acquired wealth and fame in our times thanks to the Brunello di Montalcino, one of Italy’s top red wines, and among the best grands crus in the world. We’ll taste this DOCG product, along with culinary specialties from the area.
After lunch, we’ll leave again to reach the picturesque and impressive Sant’Antimo Abbey. The short pathway leads through small country lanes, and ends in the vast clearing where the Monastery rises, set apart from the world in a splendid scenario. The Abbey, built in magnificent travertine marble with golden veinings during the twelfth century, is among the most important testimonies of the Tuscan Romanic style.
After this, we’ll reach Pienza, originally the very small borgo of Corsignano, the birthplace of the great Humanist scholar, Enea Silvio Piccolomini. It was created by him anew, after becoming Pope Pio II, to be the “ideal city” of the Renaissance, where he could enjoy a large and harmonious complex of roads and buildings: among them, the Cathedral, the grand City Hall, the Pope’s Residence or Piccolomini Palace, and the enchanting central square. Then, with a short walk on the hillside, we’ll be in the Pieve (Parish) di Corsignano, an important, very old two-aisles, central-nave Romanic church.
Return late in the afternoon to the city chosen for the start.