Crossed by the Orcia River from which it takes its name, the Val d’Orcia is known throughout the world for its wonderful natural landscapes, punctuated by the characteristic rows of cypress trees, which earned it a UNESCO World Heritage designation in 2004.
The Val d’Orcia includes the following five municipalities: Pienza, Montalcino, Castiglione d’Orcia, Radicofani and San Quirico d’Orcia. Their mission is to protect the area and promote its brand. Famous in the world, for example, Brunello di Montalcino or Pecorino di Pienza!
The best way to explore the Val d’Orcia area is undoubtedly by car with a scenic route to discover the picturesque hills, cypress avenues, vineyards, golden fields… If it attracts tourists from all over the world, there must be a reason!
The advice is to walk around without hurrying and without the anxiety of having to reach all the points marked on google maps because you will find wonderful panoramic views just about everywhere.
In the Val d’Orcia scenic itinerary below, however, we also point out the most publicized places because they are definitely worth a visit.
Panoramic route of the Val d’Orcia
Our scenic itinerary of the Val d’Orcia, began in Siena to whose sightseeing we devoted a couple of days.
After a stop at the Crete Senesi, we continued on SP248 in the direction of Asciano where, from early July and for about a month, you will find beautiful sunflower fields.
We continued successively on SP60, stopping occasionally at the side of the road to admire the view from multiple perspectives and wandering into the tractor-trailed paths.
The most striking stretch of the Val d’Orcia is definitely the one from Asciano to Agriturismo Baccoleno, with the famous Viale dei Cipressi.
❖ The Viale dei Cipressi of Agriturismo Baccoleno
About 7 kilometers from Asciano, you come to probably the most photographed place in the entire Val d’Orcia, or rather the famous Viale di Cipressi, in the vicinity of Agriturismo Baccoleno.
Virtually every farm or farmhouse in the Val d’Orcia is framed by cypress trees, and the winding row of cypress trees at Agriturismo Baccoleno, surrounded by golden fields, is truly something spectacular.
You leave your car at the side of the road and walk a couple of minutes through the vegetation. The place is enchanting at any time of day, but it becomes especially impressive at sunset time.
Drone info – For those who want to shoot with a drone, several signs indicate that in the area pertaining to Agriturismo Baccoleno, it is strictly forbidden to shoot from above.
Having taken the customary photos, we continued on SP60, which then becomes SP14, for about 20 kilometers until we reached the Cypresses of San Quirico d’Orcia.
❖ Cypresses of San Quirico d’Orcia
Cypress trees are the landscape symbol not only of the Val D’Orcia but of all of Tuscany. You will really find many of them during your scenic drive.
The cypresses of San Quirico d’Orcia are two isolated groups of cypresses positioned on the hills and already visible from the road. There are two small lay-bys where you can leave your car.
Shortly after Asciano, you can make a small detour to the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, a monastery that houses a congregation of Benedictine monks.
Departing instead from San Quirico d’Orcia, one can head toward the Avenue of Cypresses from the film The Gladiator. Just beyond is the Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta, the iconic little church in Tuscany, which can be reached in about ten minutes on foot.
Another stop not to be missed during a scenic itinerary in the Val d’Orcia is definitely the Quercia delle Checche, a nearly 300-year-old oak tree.
❖ Quercia delle Checche
The Checche Oak is located in the municipality of Pienza and is a monumental oak planted as far back as 1760. With a height of 19 meters and a crown diameter of more than 34 meters, the Quercia delle Checche as of 2017 is Italy’s first green monument.
The history of the Quercia delle Checche is somewhat troubled: saved several times from the deforestation that has affected the Val d’Orcia since 1800, in 2014 it became the object of climbing by some young people, following which the first branch over 22 meters long broke off.
It was only thanks to the volunteers of the SOS Quercia delle Checche group that the path of protection by the Ministry was set in motion.
In August 2017, unfortunately, the other large branch collapsed to the ground, reducing the tree by a third. Today, you can see the dried branches lying on the ground, and by standing below the branches, you can realize its grandeur.
You park your car in the small clearing in front of the entrance.
Panoramic route of the Val d’Orcia: the cypress road of Monticchiello
Another very impressive stretch, again with cypress trees as protagonists, is the Monticchiello Curves Road.
To see it up close, you can take the SP88 that leads to the top of the hill or, to get an overall view, you can set your navigator to Dopolavoro La Foce.
Right in front of the entrance to this restaurant, you will have the opportunity to park your car and admire the aforementioned cypress-lined road.
The Dopolavoro La Foce restaurant, where we had an excellent burger, remains about a ten-minute drive from the Checche Oak.
Panoramic route of the Val d’Orcia: when to go to Val d’Orcia
Any time of the year would be good for visiting Val d’Orcia.
We went in late June because our destination was the lentil blossom and it was quite hot (30℃).
However, we were able to admire the golden fields, and the numerous hay bales always make the children very happy.
If you go in spring, you will find the hills green, fragrant and full of life, while autumn is the best season to admire the foliage.
Where to sleep in Val d’Orcia
We point out some agritourisms particularly suitable for families with children:
❒ Agriturismo Vernianello in Poggibonsi – Exceptional location in the green with swimming pool, children’s playground and restaurant, suitable for relaxation of the whole family – Book here.
❒ Agriturismo Cognanello in Montepulciano – Doesn’t have a pool but lots of animals also produces oil and wine and you can participate in the olive harvest and grape harvest. In-house restaurant and great breakfast included in the price – Book here.
❒ Agriturismo Il Casalino in Pienza – Apartment located in an old farmhouse from 1800 with period furniture, nestled in the Val d’Orcia. Breakfast and parking included – Book here.