The Val d’Orcia is one of the top destinations in Tuscany because it looks just like you imagine Tuscany to look like. Rolling green hills sweep for miles through the picture-postcard landscape. There are olive groves and vineyards where the world famous Chianti is grown. And, of course, there are the famous cypress trees everywhere, often lining the streets of Tuscany to form the well-known and much-loved Tuscan landscape.
We now tell you everything important about the Val d’Orcia in our travel report: the most beautiful places, best highlights and most fascinating photo spots.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
Things to Know about the Val d’Orcia Tuscany
The valley with the typical Tuscan landscape is located in the south of the Siena region and got its name from the river Orcia. The Val d’Orcia (Orcia Valley) is, of course, not a valley in the classical sense at all, but the hilly landscape almost makes you feel like you’re in one.
The landscape is so special that the region has even been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004. If you want to take a Tuscany road trip, then the Val d’Orcia should definitely be part of it.
Why should you go to Val d’Orcia?
Here you will find the typical landscape of Tuscany
The landscape of Val d’Orcia is really prototypical for Tuscany. Vines, olive groves, cypresses and the many rolling hills. So if you want to see and experience the typical Tuscany, you should go to this region of Tuscany.
The Val d’Orcia is full of medieval towns, often built on the largest hills in the region. Towns like Pienza or Montepulciano are real highlights of the region and shape the landscape immensely.
Viticulture is very important here
The world famous Chianti is grown here and on a road trip through Tuscany you will always see the many vines that glisten in the sun on the numerous hills. Of course you can also enjoy Chianti and other Italian wines in one of the many restaurants or even book a Wine Tasting Tour*, where you can taste many great wines.
How much Time should I spend in Val d’Orcia Tuscany?
The highlights of Val d’Orcia are all pretty close together in the south of Tuscany. However, there is a lot to see here and just driving through this beautiful area is a lot of fun. We would therefore recommend that you spend at least 2-3 days here.
The trip through the Val d’Orcia can be combined with a visit to the popular cities of Siena and Florence.
What is the Best Time to visit Val d’Orcia?
In general, the Val d’Orcia is worth a trip all year round. However, the landscape changes quite a bit throughout the year.
In spring, everything blossoms and greens and the rolling hills of Tuscany are covered with lush green grass and the poppy blossoms make it wonderfully colorful here.
In the summer months, the lush green gives way to golden yellow, as wheat fields dominate the landscape at this time. Summer is of course also the hottest time of the year and the popular towns like Montepulciano and Siena are teeming with tourists. Therefore, we would rather avoid this time.
In our opinion, autumn is a very good time to visit Tuscany and especially Val d’Orcia. There are fewer tourists on the road and also the temperatures are again bearable. The landscape becomes a bit more barren and dry, because the fields are all already harvested. The hills are rather gray-brown and do not shine as much as in other seasons.
Winter in Val d’Orcia is the least popular time to travel, but still a good time to explore the region. There are hardly any tourists around, and the thermometer still barely hikes below the 0 degree mark. In the hot springs of the region (Bagni San Filipo and Saturnia) you can relax in the warm water.
The Best Activities in Tuscany
Tuscany is not only beautiful, but also offers many opportunities for great excursions to get to know the area and the Tuscan way of life even better. Whether wine tasting, city trips or Italian cooking classes. There is something for everyone here.
|Day Trip Pisa, Siena & San Gimignano w/Lunch
|from 78 €
|Chianti Wineries Tour with Food and Wine Tasting
|from 46 €
|Florence: Pizza and Gelato Preparation Class
|from 69 €
|Cinque Terre Day Trip with Optional Hike and Lunch
|from 100 €
The Best Places to Stay in Val d’Orcia
There are many beautiful places to stay in this region of Tuscany and we would like to introduce you to some of them. Especially recommended are the so-called agriturismos. These are traditional farms where you can spend the night in an authentic atmosphere.La casa nel Dentro | Check Prices*
Agriturismo Cavalleggero | Check Prices*
The Most Beautiful Places in Val d’Orcia
The Val d’Orcia is full of medieval towns and beautiful villages. The most beautiful places, which should not be missing on any Tuscany itinerary, we now present to you.
Montepulciano | The Val d’Orcia Highlight
Montepulciano is probably the most beautiful and also the most popular place in the Val d’Orcia. Montepulciano has about 13,000 inhabitants, is located on a hill about 600 meters high and is surrounded by a medieval city wall. The town is really popular and is visited by many tourists every year.
Montepulciano is a city to stroll. It’s a wonderful place to stroll through the alleys and streets, taking in the centuries-old Italian architecture. There are souvenir stores everywhere, many cafes and delicatessens. You can also buy local wine everywhere or take a Wine Tasting Tour* right in Montepulciano. The atmosphere is never too touristy or disturbing, we felt very comfortable here and enjoyed the beautiful buildings around us.
The most beautiful highlights here are the Piazza Grande with the Montepulciano Cathedral and the Palazzo Comunale with the beautiful Pozzo dei Grifi e dei Leoni (“Griffin and Lion Fountain”).
Besides Montepulciano, Pienza is the second very popular town in Val d’Orcia in Tuscany. The town is not very big and therefore quickly explored on foot. Pienza is very tranquil and has an impressive architecture to offer, so that one is very happy to stroll through the narrow streets. There are many souvenir stores where you can buy locally made pasta and other delicacies.
The most beautiful architectural masterpiece is probably the 15th century Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral, whose bell tower can be seen from far away. A wonderful feature is the panoramic path in the south of the old town from which you can enjoy a spectacular view of the Val d’Orcia and even drink a wine in a bar with a view.
We would recommend you to spend at least 2-3 hours in the wonderful Pienza, in this time you should have seen the most beautiful sights of Pienza.
The town of Monticchiello is really tiny and tranquil compared to Montepulciano or Pienza, and not at all touristy. So if you want to walk through a medieval town without any hustle and bustle, this is the place for you. In Monticchiello there are no souvenir stores and no tourist cafes or the like.
Nevertheless, the small town has a lot of flair, because the architecture of the town, which has only 230 inhabitants, is really beautiful. But you don’t have to spend much time here, because in less than an hour you will have seen every alley (and some even twice).
Bagno San Filipo
The thermal bath Bagno San Filipo is a great highlight in Val d’Orcia. The water in this oldest hot spring used by man is about 25 degrees warm and milky blue. Next to the spring rises a 20 meter high limestone hill from which the warm water runs into a river.
Entrance is free here and only parking costs money. The thermal spring is not as beautiful as the thermal bath in Saturnia, but still worth a trip.
You can read more about Bagno San Filipo here in our travel report.
The Most Beautiful Photo Spots in Val d’Orcia
There are many great photo spots in Val d’Orcia, of which we would like to introduce you to the most famous and beautiful ones. Apart from these spots, there are of course many more great places and photo spots that you will encounter on your Tuscany road trip. So keep your eyes open and your camera ready. This area is just incredibly beautiful.
Cipressi di San Quirico d’Orcia
These are cypress trees arranged in a circle that can be found on a small private road. The road goes over a small hill and can only be explored on foot, it is not possible to drive along the road by car.
Parking is unfortunately very difficult here, there is only a very small bay on the highway where you can stop. You can find this stop here on Google Maps.
Road near Monticchiello
Very close to the beautiful village of Monticchiello is a very picturesque zigzag road lined by numerous cypress trees. From the right perspective, the road looks really very cool.
Viale di Cipressi
This Tuscany photo spot is a small private road that leads to an agriturismo, a farm where you can stay overnight. You can’t drive along this road, but you can walk along it. The best photos are taken from the beginning of the road anyway. You can park here directly at the edge of the main road that leads past here.
Antiche Terme Romane Libere
This natural pool contains milky blue thermal water and is fed by springs running down a large limestone hill. Here you can walk over the limestone, being careful not to get your feet wet.
Unfortunately, the water was cold during our visit in November and therefore did not really invite us to swim. Normally, however, the water here should also be warm. You can park here for free.