Val di Chiana: what to see, what to do and where to sleep
The Val di Chiana is a very characteristic area of Tuscany.
Although less well known than other more emblazoned places, it is full of wonders worth visiting because they tell of the past of this beautiful land. Once inhabited by the Etruscans, there are still many traces of these ancient peoples, who left some of the most beautiful villages in Tuscany.
Here is everything there is to see in the Val di Chiana.
Where is the Val di Chiana located?
The Val di Chiana is a wide valley that stretches between the provinces of Arezzo and Siena, with some areas even reaching into Umbria. It is a green valley once watered by the Chiana River, which over the millennia has diverted its flow by flowing into the Arno instead of the Tiber.
The Val di Chiana was already inhabited in prehistoric times, became one of the most important Etruscan centers and then passed to the Romans. The Medici carried on an important land reclamation work in this area, which today is characterized by a very varied nature, including vineyards, pastures and hot springs.
Which Val di Chiana villages to visit?
The Val di Chiana is full of small medieval villages dotting the green hills of this land. The best time to visit them is in spring or autumn, when the landscape is filled with colors.
Here are 5 villages that are definitely worth a stop if you have decided to visit the Val di Chiana.
The real pearl of the Val di Chiana is Cortona, a small town that holds some of the most important Etruscan remains. You can take a walk through the town squares, walls and gates, discovering the town’s history century after century. Also, plan a visit to the Museum of the Etruscan Academy and the City of Cortona, which houses archaeological finds and works of art from different eras.
In the eastern part of the Val di Chiana we find Castiglion Fiorentino, a small village that winds around the splendid Piazza del Municipio, characterized by the Loggias built by Vasari. Town museums. Walking through the alleys of the town will be like taking a trip back in time!
Famous throughout the world for the wine produced there, Montepulciano is located about 40 minutes from Cortona and is rich in Renaissance and medieval beauty. The Torre Comunale (Municipal Tower) provides truly incredible views of the surrounding hills while the town center is home to Piazza Grande, the Church of Sant’Agostino, the Fortress, the Cathedral and the Church of San Biagio.
In the southern Val di Chiana, just a few kilometers from Montepulciano, is Chiusi, a typically Etruscan town. This very small town was the birthplace of the mythical Etruscan king Porsenna, and it is here that some Etruscan tombs are still perfectly preserved, including the famous Tomb of the Monkey and the Tomb of the Lion. Also worth visiting are the National Archaeological Museum of Chiusi, the fascinating Labyrinth and the Underground City.
Monte San Savino
Another small but unmissable jewel of the Val di Chiana is Monte San Savino. Absolutely not to be missed are the Palazzo Comunale and the Loggia dei Mercanti, but also the ceramics museum. Taking a tour of the stores in the town center, you can admire the craftsmanship of iron and other ancient trades still practiced by local artisans. Also not to be missed is the famous hanging garden, a real treasure as well as the Cisternone of the waters that feed the town that was built right under the garden of the Town Hall.
Food and wine in Val di Chiana
The Val di Chiana is also a popular destination for foodies because it offers so many specialties that are produced in this very area. At one time it was even called the “Granary of Italy” because the land was reclaimed in the 18th century and became a fertile area for growing wheat, barley and vegetables.
The peasant tradition is very present in typical dishes, for example pappa al pomodoro and ribollita are two poor, simple recipes made with bread, vegetables and legumes. Another dish you must try is pici, a type of fresh pasta made only with water and flour, which is usually served with meat sauce or all’aglione sauce.
And of course, you cannot fail to taste the very famous Chianina, one of the oldest and most important breeds of cattle in Italy. It is a lean, low-fat, soft and succulent meat from which the famous Bistecca alla Fiorentina is made.
All this accompanied by a bottle of the best Tuscan wines. The most famous and prized is by far the Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG, made mostly from Sangiovese grapes (at least 70 percent). Deep ruby red in color, it has a bouquet with fruity notes of black cherry, slightly spicy. On the palate it is really excellent, structured, balanced and elegant.
There are many tasting tours you can take in Val di Chiana to taste Montepulciano and other wines from this land.
Val di Chiana hotel: how to choose it?
There are plenty of hotels in Val di Chiana so you will be spoiled for choice.
First and foremost, the property you choose should be strategically located so that you can visit the Val di Chiana comfortably and reach the various medieval villages relatively quickly.
Gargonza Castle is located right halfway between Siena and Arezzo, so an ideal place to visit the entire area.
If you would like to book a room and discover our facility, please contact us.