DOP extra virgin olive oil of Siena
We offer you an itinerary to discover extra-virgin olive oil in the Terre di Siena.
Itineraries to discover the Terre di Siena divided into areas with similar characteristics or particular interest.
Looking for the producers of DOP oil, keep an itinerary in mind, or move freely from one to the other: what matters is to discover new corners of the land of Siena, through roads that are not always the most direct and best known, but that lead to unique places.
To the north of Siena, Monteriggioni, a nearly intact medieval castle, seems to stand still as a bulwark, today no longer against the age-old enemies of the Republic of Siena, but against time. Dante already said that "... in the round circle Monteriggioni of towers crown" speaking of the wall that has reached us intact, even if it presents towers of unusual proportions for a medieval construction: they were in fact lowered in the '500, for adapt to the needs imposed by artillery and firearms. A belt of olive trees accentuates the gap between the defensive compactness of the site and the amenity of the surrounding countryside. Strength and sweetness of the rest are the age-old binomial that characterizes the Tuscan countryside. In its singularity Monteriggioni refers to the particularity of its construction. A frontier castle between the possessions of Florence and Siena, often disputed between the two, it still lets us imagine today the life of a garrison perched in the surveillance of a coveted territory.
The town of low houses, within the walls of fourteen towers, is interrupted by small squares, small courtyards, orchards. On the square, the Pieve of 1219, with its facade of travertine and pietra serena, adds an austere grace to the place that has maintained the imprint of military functionality. Just over 40 inhabitants guard real life, dispensing the magic of an atmosphere out of time.
Monteriggioni From the hill of olive trees in Monteriggioni, our itinerary crosses the Val d'Elsa, a territory full of history because it is already evoked by people such as Dante and Boccaccio, who was born there and lived in Certaldo, and because theater, among other things , of the historic clash that long opposed Florence to Siena. Not far away, Abbadia a Isola.
The small medieval village built next to the Cistercian abbey (11th century, remodeled in the 18th century), offers suggestive views of the surrounding countryside and Monteriggioni itself. Colle Val d'Elsa is made up of two centers: Colle Bassa and Colle Alta. The first one, from the modern and contemporary age, can be grasped in its spirit, arriving in the vast central square, which tells us about markets and fairs. City of production and trade Colle, famous for its crystals.
The shops deserve a visit, perhaps in the upper part, medieval, which can be accessed from the arch dominated by Palazzo Campana. The Via di Castello, also uphill, must be followed with a careful eye to the buildings that flank it, palaces and tower houses, up to the Renaissance Duomo. Colle is a true, dynamic city. The surrounding countryside, the landscape, in a sense are far away. So it will not be a waste of time on the itinerary if we want to visit at least one of the three most important museums of the city: the Bandinelli, archaeological, the Museum of Sacred Art, in the bishop's palace, or even the Civic Museum, in the Palazzo dei Priori, with a richly decorated façade. We will not be disappointed. Poggibonsi, whose historical center suffered serious destruction in the last world war, retains a medieval fortress. Imposing architectural complex of early medieval origins, it has undergone many changes over the centuries.
Of great interest is the recent archaeological recovery of the area, included in a complex and rich park project, innovative for the proposals and solutions that illustrate the historical evolution of the site, such as the planned reconstruction of the early medieval village.
Heading towards San Gimignano, in the spirit that characterizes these itineraries, we do not take the main road, but we pass through the basilica and convent of San Lucchese. It was St. Francis himself who brought on the path of holiness a local resident named Lucchese, as well as his wife, who, buried in the church that would soon become a basilica, gave the name to the splendid complex. The interior, of extraordinary richness, presents works among the other artists of Giovanni della Robbia, Bartolo di Fredi, frescoes by Cennino Cennini and Taddeo Gaddi.
The itinerary that awaits us then to reach San Gimignano will not easily forget, especially in its final part, when the city begins to appear at the turn of the road, with its towers that, as far as we know survivors of a much more important number, they appear to us thick. Let's try to discover the historic center, vast and worthy of a real city, if we take into account the era in which it arose, first of all by getting lost in the side streets and from these arriving at the two main arteries. We will be rewarded by the unusual architectural views that will open up to our gaze. Or, entering from the Porta San Giovanni, we walk the street of the same name, feeling one of the many wayfarers who have preceded us for centuries. The palaces that flank the road bring us back in time: the remains of the Romanesque-Pisan church of San Francesco, the tower houses of the thirteenth century, the Cantagalli tower, the Palazzo Pratellesi ... to end at the Becci arch, flanked by the tower of the Palazzo Becci and the Cugnanesi tower.
We are at the Piazza della Cisterna, immersed more than ever in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. We can choose between continuing our visit to the outside, in our game of visitors from another era and letting ourselves be transported by the fantasies that surround us can arouse in us, or in dwelling on one or more of the artistic jewels we find everywhere. If we are looking for atmospheres, we will not miss a visit to the Oratory of San Giovanni, where a very sweet Annunciation attributed to Mainardi (1482), smiles from above the fourteenth century baptismal font by Giovanni di Cecco, to then enter the Collegiate. We find ourselves surrounded by the frescoes of the most famous masters of the fourteenth and fifteenth century Italian: Lippo Memmi, Bartolo di Fredi and Domenico Ghirlandaio.
We can admire them with the eye of criticism that places them among the major works of that period, or just observe them with the curiosity of a visitor of our days who rediscovers in the most hidden details - a blanket, a vase, an attitude - a link with of our fellows who lived more than six centuries ago. The context legitimizes these fantasies.
Outside the city there is a lush countryside covered with vineyards and olive trees. After trying to capture some of the magical atmospheres that San Gimignano continually gives, along the way outside the walls, and perhaps going down to the ancient sources, we take the road in the direction of Certaldo, on the border of the Sienese and now in Florence.
On the way, the seventeenth-century sanctuary at Pancole, as well as the remains of a Romanesque abbey (11th century) in Badia a Elmi, are worth a visit. Coming to Certaldo, which already belongs to the province of Florence, it is worthwhile to enter the old city center, with its beautiful medieval buildings and the memory of Boccaccio that recurs several times in our walk.
BuonconventoFrom Buonconvento in Monteoliveto, passing from Pieve a Salti and San Giovanni d'Asso: an unusual but highly emotional itinerary. The road initially offers a vision of the Val d'Orcia up to the Amiata which it could have been in the past centuries. The enchanting scenery is then moved by rocks and cliffs, becoming similar to the landscapes that are the background in many early Renaissance paintings.
San Giovanni d'Asso appears gathered around the castle (XIII-XIV century), almost guarding access to the "Crete Senesi". We do not miss San Pietro in Villore, Romanesque, collected, precious of purity. We continue to Asciano, through Chiusure. This is a way to go slowly, catching the near and far details that are revealed at each bump, every curve. The "crete" are one of the most striking landscapes in the centuries, depending on the periods enchanted or even disturbed by this unusual territory. Then following the indication for Monteoliveto to the left, everything changes suddenly: between the fragile walls, above the chasms that seem to swallow the sweets
undulations of the hills, the abbey emerges surrounded by the dark green of the ancient trees. The impressive calanques introduce the atmosphere of the site.
Silence is part of the charm of the place chosen by the Olivetan order to erect the monastic complex (1313), which for centuries has welcomed the children of the best Sienese families. The solemn and austere architecture, the magnificent inlaid stalls inside the church, the cloister frescoed by Luca Signorelli and Sodoma, the library, are striking. The presence of the monks, cordial and discreet, makes it a lived place, a pause that brings back to the regenerating dimension of the spirit. We return to Asciano, immediately turning right towards Trequanda. through the fantastic "crete".
Terre di SienaPrecious route, just punctuated by some farms in the colors of the land of Siena. The diversity of the seasons is here a dimension to be savored. The brightness of the olive trees, the shades of the skies, the very presence of man, revealed now by a ladder in the harvesting season, now by the barking of the dogs, now by the lazy smoke rising from some chimney, remind us that time can scroll with harmonic rhythms.
Trequanda is grouped around its round and reassuring tower. In the historic center, a small square: the normal beauty of the whole is interrupted by the checkered ocher and white stone facade of the small Romanesque church. It's a little gem: more than a monument, a work of art rather than a masterpiece, but it has the gift of bringing us back to the atmosphere of those times when we went to the house of God for strength and love.
Continuing with destination Pienza, we enter the small town of Montisi, a well preserved example of life in a typical village of the Sienese. The huge fortified grangia at the entrance recalls the wealth of the Sienese Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, based on vast properties in the countryside. The churches of the village, like that of the Annunziata, preserve splendid works of the Sienese school and a small but significant museum of the local Confraternity, which for centuries has been involved in the funeral of the deceased.
We continue the road to Castelmuzio, a village that seems to have been lost and on one side has urban corners of Tuscan idyll, on the other, the majestic Romanesque church of Santo Stefano a Cennano (origin IX century). Then we arrive at Sant 'Anna in Camprena, a solitary monastery (1324) that in the refectory presents important frescoes of Sodoma, restored. Around, the art continues in the landscape. We arrive in Pienza. Born from the ambitious dream of one of his citizens who became Pope, Pius II Piccolomini (1405-1464), Pienza was to represent the ideal Renaissance city.
The Pope's death interrupted the dream, but fifty thousand florins remained, which enabled Bernardo Rossellino to erect in a few years (1459-1462) around the main square the cathedral and the palaces, family and episcopal, of the Piccolomini. The visit is a must: passing from the cathedral to the palace and its garden, the perfection of spatial relationships induces real sensations of physical well-being. At all hours the square exudes the palpable charm of the ideal city that should have been.
On summer evenings, the children's screams are heard on their favorite playground. All around, on the stone steps and at the coffee tables, where famous people in disguise and people of all kinds sat, the ones fascinated by so much beauty, the others accustomed, the adults exchange the talk at the end of the day, with that music that "favella senese" makes it resonate to ears to which Italian is incomprehensible. After traveling along the main street, one must get lost in the side streets, focusing on details: flowers on a staircase, a shop window, a courtyard, a cornice ... Walking through this open-air museum of life in the first ideal city of history, we also enter in the covered museum: in the new renovated building of the bishop's palace, it houses a very rich collection of works related to the history of Pienza.
The road we recommend for Monticchiello is a branch that descends to the left, immediately exiting from Pienza in the direction of Spedaletto, Bagno Vignoni. The absence of asphalt obliges the right pace to savor the unfolding of this itinerary that has been defined as a heritage to be preserved in all its rarity. The farms and cypresses magically scattered, the game of horizons near and far, the smells and scents that surround us in any season, make you want to walk a stretch to take full advantage. In Monticchiello, before you even cross the walls, we enjoy the panorama that sweeps over the Val d'Orcia. The profiles of Radicofani, San Quirico, Montalcino, the Amiata ... are outlined on the horizon.
The thirteenth-century wall encloses a village without monumental emergencies, but certainly not without great charm. You reach the peak of the scenic beauty on the way from Monticchiello towards Spedaletto. This stretch of road should be done with a slow means, because the desire to stop and admire becomes irresistible.
These are routes that are incompatible with speed, so let's do this anyway, whenever possible. Going back to Montepulciano will only be a doubled pleasure.
Montepulciano faces Pienza on the other side of a valley, once a swamp, which for a long time divided the territories of the state of Siena from the Florentine Montepulciano. Florentine membership is also evident at first glance down from the door to the Prato towards the Piazza Grande, where dominates the cathedral surrounded by impressive buildings. The churches and palaces that border the downhill streets allow you to range from the Gothic style, to the Renaissance, to the Baroque. We recognize the hand of distinguished artists and architects in the facades and interiors, from Michelozzo (the favorite architect of Cosimo I de 'Medici), to A. Pozzo, to Antonio da Sangallo the Elder.
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