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TO SEE

Monticchiello | Montepulciano | Pienza | S.Antimo | Montalcino

MONTICCHIELLO Monticchiello is a pretty medieval village in the heart of the Val d'Orcia, which origins lose themselves in the time.The first official document dates back to the 973, when the marquis Lamberto Aldobrandesco surrendered the castle to the Badia Amiatina for a conspicuous sum of money. In the following years Monticchiello will belong to the Roman church and particularly to the Teutonici riders (until 1230), that being an order accustomed to fight, resulted proper to administer a territory of frontier. The first document relating the free Commune of Monticchiello brings the date of the 1243. From this moment, for beyond three centuries, the castle remained faithful to Siena until his capitulation in 1559 with the Frank-Spanish war, becoming, like the whole state of Siena, part of the Granducato of Tuscany.
After five centuries the Commune of Monticchiello came under the jurisdiction of the Commune of Pienza in 1777.
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MONTEPULCIANO This is the largest Comune in the Sienese Valdichiana and contains six other villages: Abbadia di Montepulciano, Acquaviva, Gracciano, Montepulciano Stazione, S.Albino and Valiano. The poet Agnolo Ambrogini (known as "il Poliziano" from the Latin "mons Politianus") was born here. The town is said to have been founded by the Etruscan king Porsenna and exhibits impressive architecture, mainly but not only Renaissance. Michelozzo, Baldassarre Peruzzi and Vignola all worked here, as did Antonio da Sangallo il Vecchio who designed the temple of San Biagio. Apart from the wonders of the historical centre of Montepulciano the tourist would do well to visit the spa centre at S.Albino. The local economy is based on agriculture and the town is famous for its Vino Nobile. In th summer the town hosts the "Cantiere Internazionale d'arte" and in the mid-Augut holidays the "Bruscello", a traditional show spoken in rhyme, is performed on the Cathedral steps. On August 29 a wine barrel race, the "Bravìo", is run between the different contrade, or districts, of the town and there is a procession in 13th-century dress.
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PIENZA The town stands on the top of a hill which overlooks the splendid Val d'Orcia. Enea Silvio Piccolomini was born here in 1405 and when he became pope Pius II in 1458 he decided to transform his modest village into the perfect town, an admirable example of the humanistic period, and entrusted the design to Bernardo Rossellino. Piazza Pio II is intact, incorporanting the most rigorous of Renaissance perspective, and containing the cathedral and Palazzo Piccolomini. The town's main axis is corso Rossellino, lined with houses built by the nobility in the 14th century. Pienza is a mainly agricultural centre, particularly famous for its pecorino cheese. The traditional cheese show, "fiera del cacio" takes place on the first Sunday in September. The flower show "Pienza e i fiori" takes place in mid May. Also to be visited is Monticchiello, made famous by its "Teatro povero", a new play anacted each summer by the local inhabitants.
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S.ANTIMO Masterpiece of the Benedectine architecture, was founded by Carlo Magno; of the ancient monastic complex is visible today the Romanesque church, the abbey and the bell tower. Each day is celebrated a Mass with gregorian songs of the monks who live here.
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MONTALCINO Without doubt, Montalcino lives a life of many souls. Montalcino as the birthplace of Brunello wine, whic someone once defined as the best and most renowned wine in Italy. From the height of its 564 m. the ancient town dominates the surrounding countryside, clinging to the slopes of a hill crowned by the imposing 14th-century fortress. In the labyrinth of little streets, amongst artisans'shops, small cafès and places selling typical local produce ( besides the wine, their honey and locally-made biscuits called "dead bones" are also well-known) the sights worth seeing are the fine Town Hall, the Bishp's Palace ( housing the United Civic, Diocesan and Archaeological Museums, with works by important 13th-16th century Sienese artists, such as Bartolo di Fredi, Il Sodoma, Bartolomeo Neroni), the antique Crucifix of Saint Antimus dating back to the mid-12th century, and the churches of Saint Augustine, Saint Giles and Saint Francis, all built between the 13th and 14th centuries, as well as the Sanctuary of our Lady of Succour. But it is just a little way out of town, near Castelnuovo dell'Abate in the Starcia valley that thhe heart of Montalcino spirituality is to be found:the Romanesque abbey of St.Antimus, a striking little temple enveloped in an almost magical atmosphere, founded by Charlemagne in 781. Finally, there are several castles on Montalcino land: the one worthy of mention is Poggio alle Mura, which has Longobard origins.
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Agriturismo Il Casato, loc. Il Casato
53026 Monticchiello di Pienza (Siena Toscana)
tel./fax +39 0578755096 - mobile +39 3332218188 +39 3382882929
email: ilcasato@valdorcia.it

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