Sunday, November 25, 2012

San Quirico

Views of the Val d'Orcia, Italy (Tuscany)
High On The Hilltop

Setting foot in San Quirico d'Orcia means that you're in one of the most beautiful parts of Italy.

San Quirico is small in size (less than 3,000 folks live here), but it sports big views of the surrounding Val d'Orcia which has been honored by painters, photographers, and mankind at large since Renaissance times.

Not surprisingly, the entire Orcia Valley was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it one of the world's most treasured landscapes.

With origins dating back to the Etruscan time, San Quirico was a key town along the ancient Via Francigena, which connected Rome and Canterbury.

Views of the Val d'Orcia, Italy (Tuscany)
Suggested Stay:

A few hours. If you want to enjoy the beauty of this part of Italy, an online search found many area quality rooms and villa rentals. From the S. Quirico area you can quickly travel to the neighboring cities (mentioned below).

Getting To San Quirico:

We arrived via car from our villa stay outside Montepulciano (just 29 km away). San Quirico is 35 km from Siena and is very close to Montalcino and Pienza, both under a 20 minute car drive away.

Views of the Val d'Orcia, Italy (Tuscany)
Although there is no "formal" bike lane, this roadway is a popular route to bike or walk; you'll be riding on the curvy, paved road or walking roadside, so be prepared.

No matter your arrival form, make sure your camera is fully charged and be prepared for frequent roadside stops... even if just to slow the heart by taking in 360° of the countryside's beauty.

Must See & Do:

San Quirico d'Orcia, ItalyFirst, here's a handy map for the city. Entering at the north-western end of San Quirico (see pic above at right), you can take the main walkway named Via Dante Alighieri that will lead you through the heart of the village.

Sites ~Collegiate Church of San Quirico, Italy

A few steps inside the old city walls, you'll be looking straight at the Collegiate Romanesque Church of San Quirico. With origins dating back to the 8th century, walk past the lions flanking both sides of the entryway and have a look inside. When you return outside look up and enjoy the tall bell tower; you're likely to see birds flying about - we found them struggling to keep atop of the church dome set high in the Tuscan breeze.

Chiesa di San Francesco in San Quirico d'Orcia, ItalyContinuing down the street, you'll encounter the heart of San Quirico with Chiesa di San Francesco (on your left) which contains a significant Madonna by Andrea della Robbia.

With your back to S. Francesco, if you walk toward the gateway opposite the church, you'll be standing at the entrance to Horti Leonini (below) a fine example of an Italian garden which dates to 1561. Admission is free, so enter and enjoy some inner peace.

Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta in San Quirico d'Orcia, Italy
Returning back to S. Francesco and taking a right along the main passage you'll notice Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, a very charming Romanesque church.

San Quirico d'Orcia Festa dell'Olio
Festa dell'Olio ~ 

If you're in Tuscany in December you won't want to miss the Olive Oil Festival that's held here in San Quirico.

We were thrilled we made it to the party and it was one of the best events we saw during our 3-month stay - it was local, intimate and unique. 

During the celebration the village is literally bursting with people of all ages who share in the love of olive oil. Oil and wine tastings abound! It was here I had my first olive oil gelato which even in the cold of December was a special treat. 

I think we were the only Americans visiting this night but the warmth of the Italian people welcomed us as if we were their own. Such is the Italian way! 

Make the festa if you can - it's an annual event and one that should not be missed. 

Bagno Vignoni ~

Just a stone's throw from San Quirico are these amazing hot springs that have been gushing waters at around 120°F for the past 2,000 years. Despite wars upon the city as well as the test of time itself, Bagno Vignoni remains a well-preserved treasure tucked in the Tuscan countryside.

Learn more about making your visit to Bagno Vignoni online. Make sure and bring your swim suit!

Horti Leonini gardens in San Quirico d'Orcia, ItalyWant More San Quirico?

Have a look at more pictures of San Quirico
here on FTLOI Flickr.

Our Next Stop?

Charming Chiusi. Also home to one of the most historically significant museums I've set foot within! Get there in a click.

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