Val di Chiana
The borders of Val di Chiana are hazy and soft like the gentleness of its dawns, like the fiery red of its sunsets mirrored in the stillness of the Crete, bare clay formations of remarkable charm. The Orcia gorges cast their reflection into the Chiusi and Montepulciano lakes and everything is reminiscent of deep mysteries originating in the Etruscan civilization, like King Porsenna's labyrinth. Water seems to rebound on the roughness of Mount Cetona and finally gush forth with all its vigor in the Chianciano and San Casciano Springs.
Visiting this valley means becoming attuned to its natural pitch which, almost like on a sensory score, makes every chord vibrate: the chords of history turning into legend and mystery (here the Etruscan civilization permeates the entire territory), as well as those of pleasure and wellbeing (thanks to the miraculous waters of Chianciano Terme, Montepulciano, and San Casciano dei Bagni ), and those of culinary enjoyment (no one can overlook the great Montepulciano wines, the delicious food found in Sinalunga, with a superb shop selling cured meats and other delicatessen, and the Trequanda extra virgin olive oil).
This land is filled not only with beauty, both natural and architectural (as anyone can realize exploring Sarteano, Torrita di Siena , and the aristocratic rural settlement of Cetona ), but also with myth as well as environmental wonders (the Chiusi oasis, the stern outline of Monte Cetona ) and harmony in every activity, all of which are characteristic features of this territory, rich in traces of ancient history.
Think of the myth of Porsenna, the Etruscan king who dared challenge Rome and defeat its army: what is left of him are not mere legends; think of Horace who said the spa in Chianciano was Emperor Augustus's favorite; think of the Abbot of Cluny who was imprisoned, cured, and released by Ghino di Tacco, the lord of Radicofani and a gentleman rogue; think of Lorenzo the Magnificent who asked Agnolo Ambrogini from Montepulciano to take care of his children's education; his influence on the Medici dynasty was so strong that the Florentine court chose Montepulciano, the center of Siena's Renaissance, as their "beun retiro" (good retreat).
But one could also think of more recent periods and of the personalities that have come to the area in the last decades: the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio conceived his " Alcione " in Val di Chiana and Federico Fellini set his masterpiece 8½ in Chianciano. The Valley, especially the area between Cetona and Sarteano, has become the home of a long list of Nobel Prize winners and excellent artists, who come here to heighten their spirits and regenerate their body.
How all this is possible can be explained with the fact that the Etruscan spirit has been preserved here more deeply than anywhere else.
The entire territory of Val di Chiana, which joins the region of Umbria to the plains of Latium, was the location of some of the most lively and advanced Etruscan settlements.
Further remarkable features were added to the cultural wealth of the area surrounding Siena: first agricultural and later artistic skills developed also thanks to the presence of water, which is the most important vital element. These three features have resulted in the civilization of wellbeing, which can be experienced by eating a portion of "Tagliata di Chianina " (veal of white calves that are descendants of the apis ox, sacred to the Etruscans), drinking Nobile wine (defined the king of wines by Redi in his "Bacco in Toscana" dating back to the 1600s), taking a walk through ancient villages, plunging into regenerating thermal swimming pools, or sipping the spa waters that bestow health and vitality.
This wealth of features is nowadays complemented by first-class accommodation facilities, as well as by the opportunity to visit the workshops of craftspeople who keep ancient skills alive.
All this is achieved in complete harmony with the land and that is what makes Val di Chiana a truly outstanding place.
Ancient roots have grown into an extraordinary livability, some kind of ecology of the spirit, lit by the rainbow of the sense.