Siena its environs
Leaving from Siena and travelling southwards taking via Lauretana 438 which crosses
the “crete senesi” you reach Casabianca and going on towards the Chiana Valley, Montepulciano and the Orcia Valley, you can discover faboulous landscapes and placet of art.
The “crete senesi”, quite a lunar landscape, so vivedly described by Repetti:
“Oasi di verde in mezzo ad un deserto di piagge di creta color di cenere ed in
mille guisa aperta, frastagliate e sparse di larghi crepacci….”.
Looking at that landscape – “a ponticelli, a costole, spacchi bianchi quasi di
un sole rilucente” –Guido Piovene still dreamy after visiting the nearby abbey
of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, could define it: “modello ideale di paesaggio eremitico,
già appartenente all’arte. Sembra lo scenario approntato dalla natura stessa per
recitarvi il dramma sacro della lotta tra Dio e il demonio tentatore”.
This place was called the “desert of Accona”, such harsh and desolate, unproductive
and solitary it was.
Monte Oliveto Maggiore is an oasis (but it’s not thne only one) in the very particolar
desertic landscape of that part of Tuscany.
Also pope Pius II wrote something once he stopped in Monte Oliveto Maggiore in
1459: “…rovinose scoscese rupi e profondissimi baratri (la cui vista incute ribrezzo
ed orrore) ne impediscono da ogni parte l’accesso, meno un’angusta lingua di terra,
sull’ingresso della quale sta a difesa una solida torre munita di un antifosso
The guest who arrives from the southern part of Siena finds the typical landscape
of the “crete”, a poor and dry countryside, rounded hills of clayey knolls and
Besides the main landscape it is possible to visit small museums and important
places of art such as Sant’Anna in Camprena near Castelmuzio, the “collegiata” of San Quirico d’Orcia and the “Leonini” gardens, Trequanda, Rapolano Terme, Montepulciano with its town hall tower,
the Chiana valley the Orcia valley, the Ombrane Valley and many other medieval
In these lands there are the extraordinary wine-growing and wine areas of Montepulciano
and Montalcino with the production of the fantastic Brunello and the famous Vino
Nobile.On these hills where“Casabianca” is situated, the olive trees flourish
and give the best olive oil of Tuscany.
The famous, incomparable and scented Siennese pecorino cheese is produced in
the “crete”; it is a very old chesse as the remainings of an old villane have
been found at the foot of Pienza, where the first inhabitants of Tuscany used
to live and used to apply themselves to the sheep-farming and produced milk, “ricotta”
cheese and pecorino cheese in the same way as nowadays.
Crossing the “crete” you reach marvellous places such as the beautiful and the
Renaissance Pienza of Enea Silvio Piccolomini, the medieval Monticchiello, the
proud fortress of Montalcino, symbol of the republican freedom, the Etruscan Asciano,
the “mercatale” of Buonconvento where Enrico VII died, as well as the Abbey of
Monte Oliveto Maggiore which was built in this wavy sea of the “Crete Senesi”
of the “desert of Accona”.
It was in that severe and desolate world of the “crete senesi” that a bright
silver staircase able to bring people up to heaven appeared to Bernardo Tolomei.