Even in a region renowned for its pastoral beauty, Tuscany’s Val d’Orcia stands out. Considered by many to be the most beautiful part of a legendarily beautiful area, Val d’Orcia, stretching from the hilly terrain south of Siena to the environs of Monte Amiata, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site for its rural splendor and the historic land-management practices during the Renaissance that valued aesthetics as well as utility.
You’ll also find great wines here too, and lodging that runs from luxe and sophisticated to charming country inns. Val d’Orcia is best savored at a slow pace—while there is notable art in churches, palazzi and museums, make time to take in the natural visual sumptuousness by planning long leisurely drives in the surrounding countryside. Here’s why you shouldn’t miss this incredible part of Tuscany.
The ethereal landscapes: When movie directors like Anthony Minghella and Ridley Scott came to shoot in the Val d’Orcia, they were looking out at landscapes little changed since the Renaissance. The Sienese School of artists of that period took in the same extraordinary panoramas—an infinity of gentle hills, clusters of perfectly positioned cypress trees and hilltop towns with ribbon-like swirls of roads winding through the bucolic terrain.
It’s hard to pick a time of day when the views are most splendid—in the morning the hills are streaked with mist but as the suns moves higher in the sky, the countryside becomes a rural palette of greens and yellow, then fades at dusk into technicolor sunsets. One of the routes to travel with great scenics runs from Monticchiello to Bagno Vignoni.