San Quirico d'Orcia - A Pilgrimage Stop on the Via Francigena
Driving time: 5 minutes
Located on the ancient Roman road, the Via Cassia, this well preserved village holds maximum charm, lots of history, and wonderful shops that appeal to both tourists and to the locals–however, it is remarkably "untouristy", and therefore a delightful village to spend some time! It was here that Federico Barbarossa of Germany (or Frederick the Red Beard), in 1155, met with the Pope's emissaries to finalize discussions to become Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Pilgrims from all over Europe travelled through San Quirico d'Orcia using the Via Francigena (which follows closely the Via Cassia) to go to Rome, home of Holy See, since as early as the late 900s AD. San Quirico's most important structure is the Collegiata Church. Also within its largely preserved city walls is a beautiful public garden, Horti Leonini and Rose Garden.
Bagno Vignoni - Natural Thermal Spa Town Since Roman Times
Driving time: 12 minutes
The thermal baths of Bagno Vignoni, enjoyed by the Romans who consecrated these waters to the Nymphs, became even more popular during the Middle Ages, thanks to their proximity to Via Francigena, an important thoroughfare connecting Northern Europe to the Italian Peninsula. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Bagno Vignoni became a stopover point for Christian pilgrims traveling this route on their way to Rome. Bagno Vignoni is described in a document dating back to 1334 as a "thermal spa" arranged and surrounded by buildings and taverns with a chapel in the middle. It has a very beautiful square layout, with the spring divided in two parts and a roof for protecting the infirm." This pool, no longer used by the public, is a massive basin of steamy water, which forms the main piazza, creating an element of pleasurable surprise. Warm reflections of stone buildings, tiled roofs and potted geraniums dance across its surface to delight the visitor.
Montalcino - World Famous for Its Brunello di Montalcino Wine
Driving time: 15 minutes
It is difficult to believe that Montalcino, one of the prettiest hill towns in Tuscany, was once used as a pawn in the warring struggle for power between its neighbors that initiated a centuries-long decline, ended only by the creation of the world class wine Brunello di Montalcino. Despite its stormy past the town remains unspoiled and rich in history. Located in the isolated and steep countryside, nestled inside a protective wall, Montalcino maintains its picturesque charm.
Montepulciano - Home of the Noble Wine of Montepulciano
Driving time: 25 minutes
Montepulciano is rich in treasured works created by famous Renaissance artists, charming squares and churches and architectural jewels preserved through the centuries. Famous for its Vino Nobile wine, the town sits high on a hilltop overlooking the southern Tuscan countryside of vineyards and olive groves. It is the birthplace of poet Agnolo Ambrogini, also called Poliziano, the town’s most famous son who was one of the first Greek scholars and an accomplished critic.
Siena - The Most Beautiful Piazza in Italy (Il Campo) and Home of The Palio
Driving time: 50 minutes
Siena is one of the most beautiful medieval cities in all of Italy, with a city square the shape of a shell that invites you to come and make yourself at home. If you are here in the summer, you may want to attend The Palio (two horse races always on 2 July and 16 August) or, if you want to avoid the crowds but still take part of the festivities, come for a Pre-Palio tour with a knowledgeable guide and see a trial race. Siena is also famous for its art and architecture.
Cortona - The Etruscan City Made Famous in "Under the Tuscan Sun"
Driving time: 1 hour
An encounter with Cortona is an encounter with art, history and spirituality. Getting to know this timeless city is a real discovery of our past. Cortona offers testimony to its history as well as an enchanting view of the landscape enclosed by Trasimeno Lake and the Apennines. Located on the border between Tuscany and Umbria near Trasimeno Lake, Cortona overlooks the Valdichiana with a view of vineyards and olive groves stretching out to Monte Amiata. The film "Under the Tuscan Sun", which was based on Frances Mayes’ bestseller, was primarily shot in Cortona, where the author lives most of the year surrounded by the hills of Tuoro sul Trasimeno.
Orvieto - Ornate Orvieto
Driving time: 1.5 hours
Visiting this city is like traveling back in time, where traces of every period in the last three thousand years can be found, layer upon layer. Perched on a cliff of tufa (a kind of rock formed from calcified deposits), the city of Orvieto is a perfect integration between nature and man-made structures. In certain cases there are explicit references to the harmonious relationship between nature and architecture, as found in the inscription on the Well of San Patrizio that reads "quod natura munimento inviderat industria adiecit" (“What nature had once denied [water, in this case], has been added by the human hand.”).
Florence - Birthplace of the Renaissance
Driving time: 1.5 hours
Florence, called Firenze in Italian, is one of the world's most important cities and deserves a stay of at least 3 days. But if your time is limited and the only way you can see Florence is on a day trip, you can do this while you stay with us. Florence is only a 1.5 hour drive by car, and can also be reached by train or bus, although the schedules may be somewhat limiting. For maximum enjoyment and best use of time, we recommend that you hire a driver who will pick you up in the morning and take you directly to the heart of the city. Be sure to have us make reservations for you if you want to visit David (located within the Accademia Gallery) or the Uffizi Gallery.
Assisi - Birthplace of St. Francis of Assisi
Driving time: Less than 2 hours
Assisi, a medieval hill town in central Umbria, is famous for St. Francis of Assisi and the magnificent Basilica of St. Francis, with its upper and lower churches decorated with frescoes by numerous late medieval painters from the Roman and Tuscan schools, including works by Cimabue, Giotto, Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti and possibly Pietro Cavallini. The city has other buildings of great significance and beauty, such as the Basilica of Santa Chiara (St. Clare) with its massive lateral buttresses, and nearby, the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (St. Mary of the Angels), which houses the Porziuncola. Don't miss the Eremo delle Carceri, a small monastery with church at a canyon above Assisi, where St. Francis retreated and preached to birds.
San Gimignano - The City of Beautiful Towers
Driving time: Less than 2 hours
San Gimignano is a fairy-tale town overlooking the Val d’Elsa. It is known for its Vernaccia white wine and its many medieval towers. Home to a small Etruscan settlement, San Gimignano is worth more than a quick stop. The center is an artistic jewel with a well-preserved history. Because the Via Francigena thoroughfare ran through the town, it is one of Tuscany’s greatest examples of medieval urban centers.
Volterra - Famous Etruscan City and Center for Alabaster
Driving time: 2 hours
Enveloped by a calm air and the silence of the Era and Cecina valleys that surround it, Volterra rises up on a hill little more than 500 meters high. From state road 68, its visitors are met with a fantastic view of a town soaring over the green countryside and clay terrain. Known for its handicrafts and alabaster production, the town is enclosed by a double wall and boasts a rich history touched by different civilizations and cultures. You will be swept away by its history, peaceful air and tranquility. Not only is Volterra located in a remarkable natural landscape, it also boasts a cultural heritage that is vast for such a small town. Every corner of the town holds well-preserved testaments to the past, including Etruscan, Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance civilizations. Such traces are found in ruins and in the city’s numerous museums.
Rome - The Eternal City
Driving time: 2.5 hours
You may prefer to go instead by train, leaving from the train station in Chiusi where you can leave your car in the long-term parking lot at no charge, and emerge in the city of Rome at the main train station, Roma Termini. The train connections between Chiusi-Rome-Chiusi are plentiful. If you leave early in the morning, you can spend a full day in Rome and still arrive back home at the villa by bedtime. With a reservation for the Vatican or the Colosseum/Roman Forum, you will have time to do a tour and also see many wonderful sights before heading home.
Pisa - The Leaning Tower and Field of Miracle
Driving time: 2.5 hours
Most people go to see the Leaning Tower and the magnificent Cathedral and Baptistry in the Field of Miracles. It is possible to include in this day trip a side excursion to Lucca (see below).
Lucca - The City of Tree-Lined Fortified Walls and the Birthplace of Puccini
Driving time: Less than 3 hours
Pienza - Province of Siena - Tuscany
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