Pienza - Val d'Orcia - Siena - Tuscany

Monasteries, abbeys, churches

If you are enchanted by ancient, medieval, and Renaissance architectural structures–some still in use by monks, churches, governments, and families with centuries-old Tuscan lineages–this is the place to be! Visit the abbeys and monasteries of the area, especially Sant'Antimo where the monks still sing their inspiring Gregorian chants in the beautiful stone church built by Charlemagne, or walk the grounds and buildings of Monte Oliveto Maggiore and look upon the beautiful frescoes by Luca Signorelli and Antonio Bazzi (called "Sodoma"). Within a 5-minute drive from Cretaiole is the evocative Sant'Anna in Camprena monastery where "The English Patient" was filmed.

For beautiful cathedrals and churches, you will want to see the Duomo built by Pope Pius II in his birthplace of Pienza, the Collegiata in San Quirico d'Orcia, the Church of San Pietro in Radicofani with its beautiful glazed terracotta altar pieces and statues by Della Robbia, and the parish churches just outside both Castelmuzio and Pienza, the Pieve di St. Stefano and the Pieve di Corsignano, where pagan and Christian carvings adorn the stone walls, harmoniously blending the profane with the sacred.

Fortresses and castles

Everyone dreams of castles, knights, queens, and kings–these are things that fascinate everyone, regardless of age! This area has some of the most evocative and best preserved citadels, towers, fortresses, and castles, which will take you back in time completely, especially if you are visiting during a festival when the townspeople dress in their medieval costumes, fly their banners, and hold their archery and colorful flag-throwing contests just as they did 1,000 years ago!

The marvelous fortresses of Montalcino and Radicofani, the palaces (palazzi) of the Piccolomini and Chigi families, and the citadel (rocca) of Castiglione d'Orcia are places you will not want to miss while you are here.

Museums

The most important art museums in the world, The Uffizi and the Accademia in Florence, are an easy day trip from Cretaiole! The grandest collection of medieval and Renaissance art and The David by Michelangelo can be seen in Florence. Advance reservations for these two museums are highly recommended, and we can make them for you.

There are several very interesting museums closer to home that focus on the people, the history, the religion, and the natural sciences of this area of Tuscany. We highly recommend our guests to visit, depending on their interests of course, The Interactive Terracotta Museum of Petroio, The Diocesan Museum in Pienza, the Etruscan Museum in Chiusi, the Museum of the Mezzadria Senese (Sharecroppers) in Buonconvento, the Aquatic Archeological Civic Museum in Chianciano Terme, the Mineral Museum Park in Abbadia San Salvatore, and Glass Museum at Castello Banfi near Montalcino.

Musical and theatrical events

  • Southern Tuscany International Festival of Music, Literature, Food, and Wine
  • Incontri in Terra di Siena
  • Fondazione Cantiere Internazionale d'Arte di Montepulciano
  • Teatro Povero di Monticchiello
  • Fondazione Accademia Musicale Chigiana
  • Opera Pienza
  • Piccola Accademia di Montisi
  • Fondazione Guido d'Arezzo
  • Festival della Val d'Orcia
  • Art classes

    Many people find that the beauty of Tuscany moves their emotions and inspires them to convey their feelings through art–and what better place to learn some new art skills than right here just around the corner from Cretaiole! Take a morning and let a local artist (whose works are in private collections worldwide) show you how to use watercolors to capture a Tuscan scene--and take it home with you as your most precious souvenir.

    Italian language classes

    You may wish to take a few hours of your week to learn Italian language and culture. We can arrange for a private tutor to come to Cretaiole. Whether you are a beginner or are more advanced--you can improve your Italian and practice it immediately. The Italian people are very forgiving and understanding, and they appreciate very much your efforts to speak to them in their beloved language.

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