• Montepulciano

    53045 Montepulciano, Province of Siena, Italy .

    This town of exceptional beauty is built along a narrow limestone ridge and sits 605 m above sea level. The town is encircled by walls and fortifications designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder in 1511 for Cosimo I. Inside the walls the streets are crammed with Renaissance-style palaces and churches.

    The town is chiefly known for its good local “Vino Nobile” wines. A long, winding street called the Corso climbs up into the main square, which crowns the summit of the hill.

    Local Events

    Last Sunday of August "Bravìo delle Botti" – After a week of medieval pageantry, festivities and feasting, costumed two-man teams from Montepulciano’s eight districts compete for a painted cloth banner, by rolling barrels that weigh 80 kilos each up the steep main street to the piazza at the top – a 1800 metre route.

    Market Day: Thursday.

    Main Sights

    The Palazzo Comunale, designed by Michelozzo in the tradition of the Palazzo della Signoria (Palazzo Vecchio) of Florence.

    The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, or the Duomo of Montepulciano, contstructed between 1594 and 1680, includes a masterpiece from the Sienese School, a massive "Assumption of the Virgin" triptych painted by Taddeo di Bartolo in 1401.

    The church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (late 16th century). It has a simple Mannerist façade with a three-arcade portico. The interior has a single nave, and houses a precious terracotta altar by Andrea della Robbia.

    The Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Biagio, on the road to Chianciano outside the city. It is a typical 16th century Tuscan edifice, designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger between 1518 and 1545. It has a circular (central) plan with a large dome over a terrace and a squared tambour. The exterior, with two bell towers, is built in white travertine.

  • Pienza

    Pienza, Province of Siena, Italy .

    Piccolomini Gardens

    In 1996, UNESCO declared the town a World Heritage Site, and in 2004 the entire valley, the Val d’Orcia, was included on the list of UNESCO’s World Cultural Landscapes.

    Pienza owes its beauty and fame to Enea Silvio Piccolomini born in Corsignano on 18 October 1405 and who became Pope in 1458 taking the name Pius II. During the course of his Papacy, he changed the ancient Castello di Corsignano into a Papal residence in the Renaissance style, planned and constructed under the supervision of Bernardo Gambarelli, known as il Rossellino, a student of Leon Battista Alberti, and renamed it Pienza (“Pius”). Il Rossellino was commissioned to build a Duomo, papal palace and town hall, the construction of which was completed in three years.


    The Duomo was built in 1459 and although there are cracks in the walls and floor of the nave, the splendid classical proportions remain intact. It is flooded with light from the vast stained glass windows requested by Pius II.

    Palazzo Piccolomini

    The palazzo is next door to the Duomo and was home to Pius II’s descendants until 1968. Rossellino’s design for the building was influenced by Leon Battista Alberti’s Palazzo Rucellai in Florence. The sections open to the public include Pius II’s bedroom and library. At the rear of the palazzo there is an ornate courtyard and a triple-tiered loggia looking out on the garden. From here there are spectacular views across to the wooded slopes of the Monte Amiata.

    Palazzo Borgia

    The Palace is the seat of the "Museo Diocesano", one of the most important museums in the province of Siena for the numerous artistic treasures on display.

    Palazzo Comunale: (Town Hall)

    Built in 1462 and characterised by an ample portico with Ionic travertine columns, today it is the seat of the local government.

    The Church of San Francesco

    It is one of the most ancient Franciscan buildings in Italy, dating back to the 13th century. On the walls is the story of St Francis of Assisi.

    Local Events

    • May: "Mille Miglia" historical car race.
    • July: Teatro Povero di Monticchiello; theatre spectacle – devised, written and produced by the local people in the village of Monticchiello.
    • September: Festa del Cacio (Pecorin sheep-cheese feast); Gastronomic festival. It is possible to taste the famous “Pecorino” cheese of Pienza and other local products.

    Market Day: Friday

  • Città della Pieve

    Città della Pieve, Province of Perugia, Italy .

    Città della Pieve sits on a hill overlooking the River Tiber. It is some 8 km from Chiusi. It is an attractive town with churches and palaces built of brick from the late Middle Ages through the Renaissance. 

    It is principally famous as the birthplace of two painters of that same period – Il Pomarancio and Il Perugino.

    The cathedral is a late medieval building housing several paintings by each, as well as a number of other works from the Renaissance period. 

    An even more famous painting by Il Perugino, Adoration of the magi (1504), may be seen in the oratorium of S. Maria dei Bianchi.

    Local Events

    Easter Monday: Wine spouting fountain and The festival of Easter (In front of the fortess there are two fountains belonging to the town-waterworks that on this day only spout wine.

    Easter Sunday and Monday: Jesus' Life in living pictures (Some of the most important events of Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ are represented against the impressive backdrop within the cellar of Palazzo Orca)

    19/21 June: Festa di S. Luigi protector of Terziere Casalino

    From 10 August to the Sunday after August 15th: Palio dei Terzieri (The three "Terzieri" [three medieval districts of the town] Borgo Dentro, Casalino and Castello challenge each other in an archery competition. They draw inspiration from the old rivalries that characterised the ancient history of the town.

  • Orvieto

    Orvieto, Province of Terni, Italy .

    Orvieto is a city in southwestern Umbria, situated on the flat summit of a large butte of volcanic tuff.

    The site of the city is among the most dramatic in Europe, rising above the almost-vertical faces of tuff cliffs that are completed by defensive walls built of the same stone. This tufaceous rock was once an island in the sea that covered the Paglia valley below. 

    The old town centre can be reached either by using the funicular lift after you have parked your car below or via the ingenious system of lifts and escalators that have been dug out of the cliffs at 'Campo della Fiera'.

    Orvieto was a major centre of Etruscan civilization – the Archaeological Museum (Museo Claudio Faina e Museo Civico) houses some of the Etruscan artifacts that have been recovered in the immediate neighbourhood.

    Local Events

    28 December – 1 January: Umbrian Jazz Winter

    Main sights

    The Duomo

    Orvieto is noted for its Gothic cathedral, or duomo and is undoubtedly the most important architectural landmark of the city, with its splendid Gothic facing and the richness of the ornaments and internal chapels.

    Papal residence

    Orvieto has long been in papal territory. Pope Boniface VIII was from Orvieto and donated statues of himself at the main city gates, which earned him some criticism from his many enemies.

    In the ancient town we also find the St.Patrizio well, built in 1527. Following the sacking of Rome, Pope Clement VII took refuge in Orvieto. The well was built to provide the Albornoz fortress with water in case of siege or conflict.

    Etruscan ruins

    Orvieto is also home to Etruscan ruins and the remnants of a wall that enclosed the city more than 2000 years ago. At the foot of the butte, surrounded by peach and apple trees and a vineyard, the Etruscan necropolis of Crocefisso di Tufo counts a hundred or so chamber tombs laid along a rectangular street grid.

    Underground city

    The city of Orvieto has long kept the secret of its labyrinth of caves and tunnels that lie beneath the surface. Dug deep into the tuff, a volcanic rock, these hidden and secret tunnels are only now open to view through guided tours. Their spectacular nature has also yielded many historical and archeological finds.

    The underground city boasts tunnels, galleries, wells, stairs, quarries, cellars, unexpected passageways, cisterns, superimposed rooms with numerous small square niches, detailing its creation over the centuries. Many of the homes of noble families were equipped with a means of escape from the elevated city during times of siege through secret escape tunnels carved from the soft rock. The tunnels would lead from the city palazzo to emerge at a safe exit point some distance away from city walls.

  • San Casciano dei Bagni

    53040 San Casciano dei Bagni SI, Italy .

    The Etruscan settlement known today as San Casciano dei Bagni owes its existence to the 42 thermal springs with indubitable therapeutic properties. and its strategic postion close to the ancient via Cassia and via Francigena roads.

    Every contradiction of the Tuscan, Umbrian and Latium countryside finds a reason to exist in San Casciano dei Bagni. Situated on the southern slopes of Monte Cetona, San Casciano appears as a medieval cluster surrounded by a natural park of hundred-year-old oaks, chestnuts and pines and characterized by its narrow and picturesque streets around the church and bell tower. Other than for its water, San Casciano is known by tourists for its pristine countryside that is perfect for trekking, or just a simple bike ride or walk along the paths amid plants that fill the hills with colour.

    Among the most important monuments to see in San Casciano dei Bagni are the Chiesa Basilicale (Basilic Church), the Collegiata di San Casciano (Saint Casciano Collegiate Church), the Oratorio di Sant’Antonio (Saint Anthony Oratory) and the Terme (Thermal Baths).

    Among the several celebrations periodically taking place in San Casciano dei Bagni is the traditional "Ciaffagnone Festival" held yearly on the first Sunday of June and during which it is possible to taste the "ciaffagnone", a fritter based on "caciocavallo" cheese cooked according the ancient traditional recipes.

    The famous natural spa at Fonteverde, offering a wide range of exclusive treatments, is available for house guests at Fighine.