The small medieval town of Montalcino is located about 25 miles south of the city of Siena, in a hilly area with unspoilt forests, vineyards, olive groves and arable land, with a large number of stone buildings that testify the agricultural vocation of these lands during the centuries. Walking along the narrow streets of the village, among artisan shops and small cafes, you can admire the Town Hall, the Bishop's Palace, seat of the civic and diocesan Museum including important works of Sienese art from the XII to the XIX century, the churches of St. Augustine, St. Francis and St. Egidio. Through the scenic walk around the medioeval walls you reach the fourteenth century Fortress, located at the top of the hill where, on a clear day, the view extends to the sea. The surroundings of the village are incredibly beautiful too, rich in well preserved historical buildings and medieval architectures: in Castelnuovo dell'Abbate, you can live the magical atmosphere of the Abbey of St. Antimo, commissioned by Charlemagne in 781.
The culture of this area has always been linked to wine production, in areas considered enormously prestigious for the cultivation of grapes (see Community Museum of Montalcino and Brunello), and the production of wines such as Rosso, S. Antimo and the famous Brunello has made Montalcino famous throughout the world.
Brunello di Montalcino is a red wine of Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin (DOCG) totally produced from Sangiovese, characterized by an intense ruby red color and a robust harmonic flavor: it undergoes an aging period of at least two years in oak containers and four months in the bottle. The wine production area is about 24,000 hectares, of which only 15% are occupied by vineyards, bounded by the valleys of the rivers Orcia, Asso and Ombrone. The hill of Montalcino has many soil environments, having been formed in different geological eras, such as sandstone, limestone and marl, sometimes tending to be sandy or clayey. The quality of Brunello di Montalcino comes from a meticulous manual work, from pruning to choosing the most suitable bud, from limiting the vegetation to thinning of the bunches, operations to produce and select the best fruits at harvest time to send to the cellars the perfect grapes.
The stretch of road leading from Siena to Montalcino is represented by a unique landscape of Crete Senesi, whose charm is due to the unreal scenario for the gray color of the crete and the yellow tending to orange at the sunset, colors changing during the seasons. This is a clay territory, traversed by winding streets, characterized by the presence of "biancane", round shape and white bumps, giving the feeling of traveling on a sea of land and gullies, similar to deep cuts, lacerations that open in this land very crumbly. Wherever medieval villages arise, as well as churches, castles and fortresses, but above all estates that testify the ancient peasant culture of these areas. The medieval town of Asciano is the most fascinating: here you can admire part of the walls that surrounded the village and old buildings along the narrow streets of the old town, including the Basilica of St. Agatha, with significant works by Signorelli and Sodoma, and Gothic Church of San Bernardino, home of the Etruscan Museum. A few kilometers far from Asciano there is the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, whose visit is a must, one of the most important monasteries of the region, founded in 1313 by Bernardo Tolomei and currently home of the Benedictine Congregation.
Many excellent agricultural products come from the land of the Crete Senesi, thanks to the expanses of green pastures that open up around them, the cultivation of sunflowers, wheat fields and vineyards that produce excellent wines. From the processing of milk in Asciano, derived from sheep that graze in Crete, feeded with aromatic shrubs, comes a pecorino cheese with a unique flavor. In the area of San Giovanni d'Asso, the oldest town of Crete, it is possible to find one of the most prized and expensive truffle, the white truffle (and of course black truffles): in November the traditional Fair takes place, while the first Museum of the Truffle in Italy is located in the the dungeons of the castle. Other local products are the artichoke of Chiusure and the honey of Montalcino, where you can also find the famous grappa produced from the grapes of Brunello. The territory of the Crete Senesi is also characterized by the presence of travertine quarries, whose business is concentrated in the area of Serre Rapolano. The first document of 1597 demonstrates the use of travertine for the construction of the Church of Santa Maria in Provenzano in Siena, the Church of San Biagio in Montepulciano, the facade and the bell tower of the Cathedral of Pienza.
Prices per hour (not per person) from Siena
1/2 pax 45 €
3 pax 50 €
4 pax 55 €
5/6 pax 60 €
7/8 pax 65 €
from Florence 30 € extra
from Livorno 65 € extra
from Pisa 65 € extra
from Lucca 65 € extra
from Rome 135 € extra
Cost includes: visit and wine tasting in wineries present in our list, driver in english or spanish, pick up and drop off, gas, van with air conditioning, taxes and the meals for the driver.
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