Cultural Landscapes

Val d’Orcia, Casentino Valley, Villas and Gardens

We specialize in private day trips, and field trips to Val d’Orcia, Tuscany; Casentino Valley; and Renaissance Villas and Gardens.

Val d’Orcia, Tuscany

The region of Val d’Orcia in southern Tuscany was inscribed by UNESCO as a “Cultural Landscape” in 2004 both for its natural and cultural heritage. The Val d’Orcia is the quintessential Renaissance landscape with its hilltop towns, architecture, vineyards, olive groves, and single rows of Cypress trees punctuating the landscape.

Our cultural landscape day tour takes us to the hilltop towns of Montepulciano, Pienza, and Montalcino. We leave from Florence with a private car service traversing through the Sienese countryside to the unique and scenic landscape of the Val d’Orcia. On the way, we stop in the charming Medieval hilltop town of Montepulciano to experience its architecture, cultural history, and local food and wine traditions. This picturesque town is the setting for our lunch where we are introduced to the traditional foods of the region including the famous wine Nobile di Montepulciano.>/p>

From there we make our way through the scenic cultural landscape of Val d’Orcia, renowned for its ever changing palette of colours depending on the season, to the idealized Renaissance hilltop town of Pienza where we visit the garden and palace of Pope Pio II. We continue our journey through the panoramic landscape of the surrounding hills towards Montalcino, to experience the specific habitat “terroir”, for a personalized wine tasting of the celebrated Brunello di Montalcino at a local vineyard and cantina renowned for its sustainable and traditional cultivation of Brunello, one of Italy’s most prestigious wines.

Option: as an alternative to the wine tasting at Montalcino, we may continue through the winding hills of Val d’Orcia to visit the 12th century Abbey of Sant’Antimo in time to catch the last rays of sun on its R omanesquefaçade.

Price available upon request.

Casentino Valley

Tuscany’s Best Kept Secret

Our day tour of the Casentino Valley, with a private car service, is a journey through its magnificent cultural landscapes dating from prehistoric sites, Etruscan and Roman agricultural terracing, Medieval castle and water systems, to the historic Romanesque pieve of the territory. Dotted through the landscape is a network of eco-museums, supported by locals, to safeguard the intangible as well as the tangible cultural heritage of the valley.

The upper Casentino Valley, situated near the Emilia Romagna border, is known for it natural resources; the Casentino forests of Tuscan oak supplied the timber for many of the Medieval and Renaissance monumental structures of Florence. The forests are famous for their Chestnut groves, making the Casentino one of the most colourful landscapes in Italy in the Autumn. The Arno river also has its source in the upper valley along with numerous small rivers that provided water power for the Medieval wool mills, a source of wealth for the Florentine Guilds. The dramatic natural landscape of the Casentino set the stage for Dante’s Divine Comedy where he stayed in exile hosted by the Guidi family in their numerous castles, Poppi, Romena, and Porciana. The Casentino Valley is also home to the della Robbia family of artists and the birth place of Michelangelo.

We have organized a number of itineraries ‘percorso’ representative of the historical cultural layers of this fascinating territory focusing on ancient sites; medieval castle systems; medieval water, wool, and chestnut mills; historic towns; sacred sites as the Romanesque pieve, Sanctuary of La Verna, and the Monastery of Camaldoli.

Renaissance Villas and Gardens

… in progress