When most people visit the Tuscan region, Pisa, Siena and Florence are often the popular choices. However I wanted to experience a side of Tuscany that wasn’t as well known, but still equally incredible; which brought me to the Val d’Orcia region located just South of Siena.
I originally thought I would of had to skip Tuscany all together since I was spending most of my time in the Puglia region, but luckily I came across this trip from Viator that allows you to experience Tuscany off the beaten path in one day, and immediately I was sold.
Since I had a couple of days in Rome before I left the country, I decided to do this trip with my friend Cristina who happened to be in Rome at the same time (and celebrating a birthday as well!). We felt it was only appropriate to ring in our birthdays by drinking lots of wine under the Tuscan sun, so we woke up bright and early to meet our guide Violetta in the heart of Rome, and board a bus to the stunning Val d’Orcia region.
As we drove in, we were witness to beautiful landscapes where medieval towns were met with sunny hills and rustic farms. It wasn’t long before we were met with fields and fields of vineyards which had me very excited for our wine tasting at lunch. Here are some of the highlights that I recommend if you want to experience a side of Tuscany not many people see:
Nestled in southern Tuscany, Montelpulciano is a Renaissance hill-town, famed for its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which is a delicious red wine. In fact, of the 15,000 people that live here, most are dedicated to wine production and tourism. We learned all about the economical, political, and religious centre of the town at Piazza Grande.
Be sure to explore this town with your camera and see the Florentine-style clock tower, the Etruscan city walls, medieval wine cellars and the Duomo. Between the incredible views and the cute shops, I could have easily spent all day there.
Brunello di Montepulciano red wine is produced at these vineyards, and I sampled a glass (or four) over a three-course lunch at one of the area’s traditional farms. Featuring produce grown on the farm, our lunch allowed us to dine in true Tuscan style while participating in a wine tasting of each of the wines grown on site:
Spend your afternoon in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed town of Pienza. The town’s layout was designed by Pope Pius II in the 14th century, as he wanted to transform the look of his birthplace. It was so wonderful to soak up the serene ambience and marvel at the town’s beautiful ancient architecture.
Be sure to look in the shops for Pienza’s most famous product – Pecorino cheese!
Salute and Happy Travels!
For more photos check out my Flickr page.