The road S 438 between Asciano and Taverne d'Arbia, on the way to Siena | The hidden secrets of southern Tuscany

Abbadia San Salvatore

Abbey of Sant'Antimo


Albarese

Acquapendente


Archipelago Toscano


Arcidosso


Arezzo


Asciano


Badia di Coltibuono


Bagno Vignoni

Barberino Val d'Elsa

Beaches

Bolsena Lake


Bomarzo

Brunello di Montalcino

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Castiglione della Pescaia


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Celleno


Certaldo


Chinaciano Terme


Chianti


Chiusi


Cinigiano


Città di Castello

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Colle Val d'Elsa


Cortona


Crete Senesi


Diaccia Botrona


Isola d'Elba


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Val di Merse


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Valle d'Ombrone


Vetulonia


Viterbo

Volterra



 

   
Surroundings
 

The road S 438 between Asciano and Taverne d'Arbia, on the way to Siena (April)

 

       
   


Crete Senesi


   
   

The Crete Senesi refers to an area of the Italian region of Tuscany to the south of Siena. It consists of a range of hills and woods among villages and includes the comuni of Asciano, Buonconvento, Monteroni d'Arbia, Rapolano Terme and San Giovanni d'Asso, all within the province of Siena.

The poet Mario Luzi described the suggestive lunar landscape of gullies and hills south of Siena “Le Crete Senesi” as an “open sea”. It’s the “Crete senesi” that occupies a vast area of the territories of Asciano, Buonconvento, Monteroni d‘Arbia, Rapolano Terme and San Giovanni d‘Asso.
This barren area has almost remained intact conserving its original characteristics: still today it’s difficult to cultivate olive trees and grapevine although corn and sunflower are very common thanks to the work that has been done to enable the watering. The nudity of the landscape change colour each season: the grey clay, the yellow nuances of the sulphate, the mature corn and the intense green of the grass. A malleable earth where the herd paths are visible, like the antique road Via Cassia constructed by the Romans and renamed “via Francigena” by the emperors.

Thousands and thousands of pilgrims have walked across here during the centuries and therefore the road is lined by many parishes, abbeys and small fortresses. We would suggest a circular itinerary of about 75 kilometres long starting from Siena and then going south on the Via Cassia (S2).
You will go across the main municipalities and you can go through the mountain range, in the heart of the Crete, till you reach the abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore – surrounded by thick forest.
Going back you take the Lauretana (S438), you will pass by villages like Asciano where it’s worth to pause a bit and have a look around.
In Taverne d’Arbia, you go back taking the Statale 73, just outside Siena.

Perhaps the most notable edifice of this area is the monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore.

The region is known for its production of white truffles and hosts a festival and a museum dedicated to the rare tuber.


Art in Tuscany | Siena

Art in Tuscany | Le Crete Senesi

 



Crete Senesi (April)

 


Crete Senesi (August)

   
   

Crete senesi are literally ‘Siennese clays’ and the distinctive grey colouration of the soil gives the landscape an appearance often described as lunar. This characteristic clay, known as mattaione, represents the sediments of the Pliocene sea which covered the area between 2.5 and 4.5 million years ago. In the nearby is also the semi-arid area known as Accona Desert. The area suffered extreme depopulation due to plagues in the Middle Ages, and the attendant prolonged lack of cultivation facilitated an almost complete erosion of the topsoil. It was later settled by Sicilian farmers adept to cultivating cereals on less than optimal conditions, and who were able to establish sustainable cultivation of wheat on the Siennese clays.



Crete Senesi, Biancane hills in the badlands of Accona Desert
Crete Senesi, Biancane hills in the badlands of Accona Desert
 
   

Collegium Vocale Crete Senesi

Collegium Vocale Crete Senesi is an annual music festival under the artistic direction of Philippe Herreweghe in the Crete Senesi in Tuscany. 
2017 promises to be a special year: the year in which artistic director Philippe Herreweghe celebrates its 70 years and in which the world is celebrating the Monteverdi-year (Claudio Monteverdi was born 450 years ago). Special event will be the performance of Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers by Collegium Vocale Gent and Philippe Herreweghe in the beautiful setting of the Sant’ Anna in Camprena monastery.

For more information: Collegium Vocale Crete Senesi

 

Program 2017

 

 

Collegium Vocale Crete Senesi [1]




   
Crete Senesi presso Asciano   Crete Senesi Biancane   Crete Senesi Calanchi

Crete Senesi presso Asciano

 

  Deserto di Accona   Biancane nelle Crete Senesi vicino a Monte Oliveto Maggiore
Crete Senesi, balle di fieno   Pieve Santo Stefano a Cennano 08   Chiusure and the Campanile of Santa Maria di Monte Oliveto Maggiore
Crete Senesi, balle di fieno, vicino a Riserva naturale Lucciola Bella  

Pieve di Santo Stefano a Cennano. Absidi

 

 

Chiusure and the Campanile of Santa Maria di Monte Oliveto Maggiore

 

 


Castiglioncrello Bandini is about 18 km far from Montalcino and it is located in a spot overlooking the Orcia and Ombrone river valleys, a suggestive and varied area of Tuscany that should not be missed.

Tuscan farmhouses | Podere Santa Pia

 

 
         

Monte Oliveto Maggiore abbey

Abbey of Sant 'Antimo

Montalcino
         




Nature Train in the Siena region


The Asciano-Monte Antico railway

The Asciano-Monte Antico railway line was closed in September 1994 because it was considered a "dead branch". He had a too small traffic of passengers to justify a normal service.
Across the area of the Crete Senesi and the valley of the Orcia river at the foot of Mount Amiata, the line is, however, in an area of a special environmental and landscape value, where among other things, it is produced a very fine wine, the famous Brunello and where it was established the Artistic Natural and Cultural Park of Val d'Orcia.

Thanks to the Train Nature project, the Asciano-Monte Antico has been reopened during certain no working days as a "tourist train" following the many examples of this kind which exist in other European countries and North America.

Val d'Orcia Railway Association volunteers provide customer assistance and the improvement of existing attractions along the route. The Nature Train Project wants to show us how, with innovative forms of management, the reuse of secondary railways, which run in areas far away from the phenomena of urbanization and industrialization, cover for that reason a fundamental naturalistic role. The initiative aims also at contributing to the preservation of an important heritage of "industrial archeology".
In order to emphasize also the historical value of the "Tourist Railway", the service is provided by especially restored vintage locomotives and sometimes by steam locomotives and “a hundred doors” coaches.

For information and reservations:
FVO - Ferrovia Val d’Orcia
e-mail: trenonatura@ferrovieturistiche.it
Ph: +39 0577 207413 - +39 338 8992577
Address:
Arcidosso, 58031 Arcidosso (GR)

Nature Train in the Siena region is an initiative of the Siena Province, State Railways, Club Alpino Italian and Orcia Rail Network.

Walking and trekking in Tuscany

The best way to visit the Crete Senesi is to walk in the countryside. There are some very scenic routes: The Strada del Pecorile, between Asciano, Trequanda, Chiusure and San Giovanni d’Asso, which starts from the Porta Massini and leads southwards, was really important in the past because it linked Asciano and Trequanda, Chiusure and San Giovanni d’ Asso. Its main characteristic is that, some kilometres from the village, it goes on a series of calcareous hills, which are the highest of the area and, for this reason, they offer splendid panoramic foreshortenings.

Strada Bianca di Medane: a country lane departing from Arbia and leading to Asciano along the path of the old Roman road Lauretana Antica and then continuing to Medane. It runs on the top of the hills, and the views over the Crete and Siena are incredible. From this road it is possible to continue on a similar country lane that leads from Monteroni to San Martino in Grancia and Vescona.

Strada Bianca di Montauto: departing from the old Roman road Cassia just before it reaches Lucignano d’Arbia, it’s the perfect road to admire the impressive calanchi on the Ombrone Valley.

Vecchia Strada della Riccia: the old road between Siena and the Val di Chiana running through the countryside of the Crete and the woods “Riccia”.

Strada Bianca di Pieve a Salti: quite off-the-beaten-path, it leads from San Giovanni d’Asso to Buonconvento through the hills comprised between the rivers Ombrone and Asso. A beautiful rural area, and a lovely pieve.

 

[1] Photo by Michiel Hendryckx. Source: www.collegiumvocalecretesenesi.com