From San Quirico D’Orcia to Radiocofani

Posted on: November 13th, 2013 by Palazzo Ravizza

Taking the via Cassia from Siena, in other words the Francigena road, along the route that arrives in Rome, after Buonconvento and the crossroad of Montalcino, Joseph and Elizabeth Pennell, in 1884, come by bicycle in San Quirico d’Orcia, sweating and panting along the sunny Senese hills.

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The Pennel’s wrote: We were prepossessed against San Quirico before we reached it. Olives with vines hanging from them, in defiance of Virgil, brown fields, and red and yellow trees could

not reconcile us to the long climb up the mountain. It was worth our trouble, however, if only to see the cathedral. We left the tricycle at the trattoria, and at our leisure looked at the portal and its pillars, with quaintly carved capitals of animals and birds, and those others, joined together with a Celtic- like twist and resting on leopards, and the two sea-monsters above”.

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After visiting San Quirico d’Orcia the Pennels continue their travel towards Pienza.

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On the background the town of Pienza.

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The entrance of Pienza

In Pienza comes by car the American collector Dan Fellows Platt in 1905: “Some six miles more and we are at Pienza, birthplace of Eneas Silvius Piccolomini. He was bom here at a time when the town was known as Corsignano. When he became Pope Pius II, the place was re-named in his honour. Still, today, the Piccolomini lord it over the town, whose citizens are loyal to the old feudal traditions. Through the courtesy of the present head of the family, we were enabled to go through the old palazzo built for Pius II, by Rossellino, of Florence, and the young Francesco di Giorgio, of Siena. It is a fine and dignified building, worthy of its founder. The columned gallery in the rear of the second floor commands a splendid view over a wide stretch of country.

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Dan Fellows Platt continues: “The cathedral is contemporary with the palace. It contains pictures by Sano di Pietro, Matteo di Giovanni and Vecchietta. The last, a pupil of Taddeo Bartoli, shows us the Madonna caught up heavenwards by a glory of singing angels”.

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The Assumption of the Virgin by Vecchietta.

The town deserves a visit to admire the view of Mount Amiata and store up of typical cheese and hot pepper at the local shops.

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Rounds of pecorino di Pienza in a shop in the center

Come out from Pienza, you can visit the small and charming Medieval town of Monticchiello with its hills adorned with cypresses.

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From Monticchiello you can continue for Montepulciano, an ancient town rich of charm, where to taste a glass of noble wine, a Tuscan excellence.

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Going back to San Quirico, there is a deviation on the right that goes towards Sant’Anna in Camprena.

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Here you can admire, at the refectory of the abbey, the incredible frescoes by Sodoma dated to the beginning of XVI century and immerse yourselves into the romantic mood of Anthony Minghella “The English patient”.

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From Sant’Anna in Camprena we can reach the Medieval town of Petroio, where earthenware is an excellence. Besides the museum of earthenware you can visit the F.A.T.A.P company, an handicraft factory of artistic earthenware where to find very special products and discover the phases of making earthenware.

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F.A.T.A.P Company, in Madonnino Dei Monti, section of Petroio

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F.A.T.A.P Company, in Madonnino Dei Monti, section of Petroio

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F.A.T.A.P Company, in Madonnino Dei Monti, section of Petroio

RCome back to via Cassia, we can go to Bagno Vignoni, famous thermal establishment from the Middle Age, that featurest an ancient water tank in the middle of the square.

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After a relaxing bath we can go towards one of the most enchanting stages at the time of Grand Tour, because it was attractive for many English ladies and lords that were looking for a gothic novel mood: the rocca of Radicofani.

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On the background the rocca of Radicofani.

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The rocca, dated to XIII century, overlooks Val d’Orcia and along the centuries was on the borderline of the Pontifical State.

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This place is famous for the deeds of the outlaw Ghino di Tacco, the Tuscan Robin Hood, quoted by Dante and protagonist of a novel by Boccaccio, that lived here for many years.

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Charles Dickens remembers his journey here in 1846: “We went, for twelve miles, over a country as barren, as stony, and as wild, as Cornwall in England, until we came to Radicofani, where there is a ghostly, goblin inn: once a hunting-seat, belonging to the Dukes of Tuscany. It is full of such rambling corridors, and gaunt rooms, that all the murdering and phantom tales that ever were written might have originated in that one house. There are some horrible old Palazzi in Genoa: one in particular, not unlike it, outside: but there is a winding, creaking, wormy, rustling, door-opening, foot-on-staircase-falling character about this Radicofani Hotel, such as I never saw, anywhere else. The town, such as it is, hangs on a hill-side above the house, and in front of it”.

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Walking through this itinerary Palazzo Ravizza suggest you to visit the following places, if you like DOC wine produced with traditional methods, Tuscan goldsmith’s product or if you like aromatic herbs.

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Wine Cellar of Capitoni Marco, podere Sedime 63, Pienza

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Wine Cellar of Capitoni Marco, podere Sedime 63, Pienza

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Goldsmith workshop Aliseda, via dell’Opio nel Corso 8, Montepulciano

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Herbalist’s shop Hortus Mirabilis, piazza delle sorgenti 35, Bagno Vignoni

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