The enchanting Val d'Orcia
Updated: May 10, 2020
The competition for beauty in Tuscany is tough. There are so many different landscapes from sea to mountains and everything in between, not to forget the art cities, historic castles, and hamlets that are dotted throughout.
But a region that truly stands out for its eye-grabbing landscape is a large valley area just south of Siena named after the small river Orcia that runs through it.
The region is made up of a series of small valleys and open undulating fields. Cypresses line roads or are clustered in circles like monuments. Crater-like chalky rock formations make the patchwork complete; a special landscape indeed, giving the region its second local name "Le Crete Senesi". Confining the area to the south is the large extinct volcano Monte Amiata with lovely hot springs scattered around its foothills.
A continuous inspiration to painters since the renaissance. A dream for any photographer at heart.
So beautiful is this cultural landscape that it was listed as Unesco in 2004.
Fields are cultivated with different rotating crops, mainly grains, occasionally sunflowers. Sheep can be seen grazing in spring, and some areas are highly concentrated with olive groves. Among the products of culinary pride of the region are the delicious Pecorino cheeses produced at small farms. You really get a sense of the variety by visiting the small cheese shops that are plentiful in little village Pienza. The green-yellow gold of the area is the high-quality olive oil “Terre di Siena” made from hand-picked local olives such as Frantoio, Moraiolo, Pendolino and other less known native varieties (in fact, this is where our delicious EVOO Olivoglio comes from). It’s such a lavish region that the ground generously hides white truffles that local hunters search for in the fall period with their specially trained dogs.
The undisputable beauty of this region is one of the wonders of Italy and of the world. And even though this is no secret, it’s by no means an overrun or overexploited area. The position is triangled between Siena in the north, Montepulciano to the east and Montalcino to the south. The two latter are well-known for serious red wines made around their hilltop towns. Perhaps so famed that the Orcia region’s DOC wine is often overshadowed and is still a gem to be discovered!
There are, in fact, several wineries in the region that produce great wines, often more varied in grape varieties grown compared to the well-established next-door neighbors. As the region stretches quite far from one end to another and Orcia DOC can come in different colors and styles, it's hard to channel the wines into a specific identity. In the end, perhaps what commons them the most is their incredibly enchanting territory. And if you can envision it while drinking the wines, it's next best to being there yourself.
See a nice map with wineries on the Orcia DOC Consorzio web-page.
Of course, we want to show you a winery from the inside, so here's a quick video of the most modern project in Orcia DOC, Fabbrica Pienza: