Hidden Places in Tuscany 1 - Siena and Grosseto
If it is not the first time that you are visiting Tuscany on holiday, and you have already seen our most famous places: the beautiful cities of art such as Florence, Lucca, Siena, Arezzo, and the wonderful countryside and its medieval villages perched on the hills, you still have a lot to discover.
Below is a list of unknown and particular places to experience and things to do near Siena and Grosseto on your Tuscany holiday.
In the province of Siena
-l'Abbazia di San Galgano e la spada nella Roccia
If you remember the legend of King Arthur and the Sword in the Rock, you should know that about twenty kilometers from Siena, in the village of Chiusdino, inside the Montesiepi Chapel, there is a real medieval sword wedged in a rock in 1100 by a rich knight as a divine oath to renounce worldly goods. Not far from there you can visit the Abbey of San Galgano, the remains of the Cistercian monastery of 1218. There are still the walls and the few vaults in a highly suggestive complex of open-air ruins.
-The Accona Desert
Did you know that there is a desert in Italy? In the area called Crete Senesi, near Asciano there is an arid and uncultivable land where, due to its clayey and sandy soil, deep inlets called “calanchi” have been created alternating with reliefs on which sodium sulphate has been deposited, called "biancane ". This part of the Sienese countryside tells of the presence of an ancient sea that has now disappeared for millennia. For trekking lovers there are very suggestive routes, otherwise you could enjoy this lunar landscape at its best by heading towards the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore.
-Bagno Vignoni - The thermal baths and the park of the Mills
The main feature of Bagno Vignoni is the medieval thermal bath located in the center of the town's main square. Its waters flow from the source and crossing the village, they head towards the nearby cliff, which preserves ancient underground mills with their accumulation tanks. It is possible to visit the park and the 4 mills by reaching the bottom pool that was once the free baths of Bagno Vignoni where bathing is now prohibited. On the other hand, it is possible to take advantage of the various spas in the area always powered by the same spring.
-I Bottini di Siena
When you walk through the streets of Siena and admire the medieval sources, it is difficult to imagine that they are fed by a network of 25 km of tunnels, still functioning today.
Some sections of this extraordinary underground world can be visited (reservation required): an experience that makes you go back in history and understand a lot of the city.
It involves walking through evocative galleries at eye level, dug in the sand or covered with a brick vault, while the water flows in a canal (gorello), so the feet stay dry.
-Sentierelsa The Walk along the Elsa River
Sentierelsa, which starts from the center of Colle Val d'Elsa, is a naturalistic path, allowing you to observe the riparian vegetation of a river in perennial regime and the numerous animals, amphibians and fish but above all birds, which find shelter between these banks. But the path is also an opportunity for a historical journey, discovering the traces of the intense relationships of man with nature: the gores, the banks and the locks, the eighteenth-century mill, the medieval bridge that from the year 1000 to the early nineteenth century allowed pilgrims and travelers to cross the river. In summer Sentierelsa becomes a small bathing paradise, and it could not be otherwise given the magnificent natural travertine pools and large pools of water, such as that of the Diborrato waterfall which seems to be as deep as the waterfall itself
In the province of di Grosseto
-Il Giardino dei Tarocchi
In Capalbio, in Maremma, the Franco-American sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle creates a unique, incredible, esoteric garden inspired by the game of tarot cards. The sculpture garden is made with materials and objects of different nature. For more than 17 years the sculptress dedicated herself, flanked by various specialized workers and a team of famous names in contemporary art, to the creation of 22 cyclopean statues, each representing one of the Major Arcana of the Tarot, covered with mosaics in mirror, fine glass and ceramics. The garden, inspired by Gaudi's Parc Guell and the gardens of Bomarzo, can only give amazement and wonder to both adults and children.
-The mysterious Vie Cave of the Etruscans (Pitigliano)
The Vie Cave are short connecting paths or communication routes cut into the tufaceous rock. An artificial roadway that proceeds between two vertiginous tuff walls, in some cases even 30 meters high, which connects the valley with the villages of Sorano, Sovana and Pitigliano. Their length can vary between 300 m and 1500 m. Even today it is not certain of the use that the Etruscans made of it. In the Middle Ages they were certainly used as communication routes but there is a study to understand if they were sacred paths at their origin.
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