Head into Umbria
As the house is situated near the border with Umbria, it is easy to pop over and explore some of this beautiful region. The capital Perugia is a beautifully preserved medieval city teeming with history, architecture and art, yet at the same time vibrant with lots to see and do throughout the year. The ‘Perugia City Tour’ bus leaves Piazza Italia throughout the day or you may simply like to discover the city at your own pace, stopping for a cappuccino at one of the many cafés, or to look in the windows of the stylish shops lining the Corso Vannucci. Just beyond Perugia, Assisi is also worth a visit, particularly to see the Basilica of St Francis, who was born here.
Pienza - city of cheese!
This charming village is widely known as the "ideal city of the Renaissance", the creation of the great humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini who later became Pope Pius II. Pienza is also the city of cacio, which means cheese! The Pecorino from Pienza is a tasty cheese made from sheep's milk, renowned worldwide and delicious. The streets are full of small charming shops selling pecorino and other typical local products such as fine wines, spices, and pici (handmade pasta). We recommend stopping and tasting!
Over to the east in Umbria lies Lake Trasimeno, Italy’s fourth largest lake. There are various restaurants around the lake and eight public beaches with good facilities. For watersport enthusiasts, there are sailing schools at Castiglione and Passignano, windsurfing at Magione and waterskiing at Castiglione and Tuoro. You can also take a boat trip out to the Isola Maggiore in the middle of the lake.
Visit the local markets
Stalls laden with produce, scents and smells filling the air, and a crowd of Italians - finish the morning's shopping with a coffee in a bar. Cetona's weekly market is on a Saturday morning, whilst nearby Chiusi's market day is Monday so you can stock up on fresh veggies for the week.
Try horse riding
at the Centro Equestre Tre Laghi based in nearby Chiusi.
Enjoy a round of golf
at the 9 hole, par 34 course at Golf Club Valdichiana, or the 18 hole course at Castiglion del Bosco Golf Club, near Montalcino.
Enjoy the great outdoors
Just to the north, the protected natural reserve of Pietraporciana offers opportunities for walking and enjoying nature. The reserve covers 340 hectares, and there are many birds to spot, including woodpeckers, and some rare plant species. To the west, Monte Amiata is the only volcano in Tuscany, considered a holy mountain by the Etruscans. The surrounding area is a protected natural park which has designated paths and trails for walking and cycling, and it also a great place for spotting birds and other wildlife.
Within the Monte Amiata park mentioned above, the ‘Indiana Park Amiata’ will delight children (and adults!), with its rope swings and zip wires through the trees! There are different routes depending on your age/height… and bravery level! Minimum age/height for the easiest route is 6 years old and 1.2m tall. Take a picnic, or dine at the Le Macinaie restaurant.
Just to the north lies Montalcino, whose vineyards (of predominantly Sangiovese grapes) produce the famous Brunello wines. Taste a few and buy your favourite to enjoy with dinner on the covered terrace!
Discover the delights of Cetona
The nearest village to the house, Cetona is a medieval hilltop town in the beautiful Val di Chiana area, and is a proud member of the prestigious club of the most beautiful towns in Italy, ‘I Borghi più belli d’Italia’. The old town follows the typical Tuscan pattern of a central piazza, where an outdoor market is held every Saturday. The elegant Rivellino Tower sits at one end of the piazza, and there are shops and restaurants in and around the square. Among Cetona’s notable buildings are the 13th century Church of the Holy Trinity (La Collegiata), the Convent of San Francesco and Belverde Archaeological Park.
The charming medieval hamlet of Sarteano
is located on a plateau between the Val d’Orcia and Valdichiana, rewarding visitors with some spectacular views. The town has been inhabited since ancient times, and boasts some of Tuscany’s most important Etruscan tombs. Many archaeological finds are in the permanent collection of the Etruscan Museum of Sarteano. Among the sights are the church of San Martino in Foro, the Collegiate Church dedicated to San Lorenzo and Sant’Apollinare, various palazzi, the theatre and the 5th century castle.
Città delle Pieve
Just over the border into Umbria, this historic town is well worth a visit, particularly for its churches.
Fortress of Radicofani
The Rocca di Radicofani has towered from the top of an 896m high basalt cliff for more than a 1000 years. Its strategic position above an important route undoubtedly played a part in its history, being stormed more than once, destroyed and rebuilt. Now restored, the castle can be visited throughout, including the underground communication trenches and the firing positions.
Day trip to Rome or Florence
The central location of Podere la Fornace means that a day trip to Florence or Rome is entirely possible. Drive to the railway station at Chiusi, and you can hope on a main line intercity service direct to Termini station in Rome or Santa Maria Novella station in Florence. Both cities hold innumerable cultural treasures, housed in beautiful buildings, with new wonders around every corner. Be sure to take a little time out to sit in a side street cafe and just soak up the atmoshere!
Enjoy a spa treatment
Chianciano Terme is a spa resort, the word ‘terme’ being the Italian for thermal bath. Its heyday was in the 50s and 60s as you’ll note from the hotels. The baths themselves have a surprisingly sophisticated set-up with multiple pools, baths and treatments available.The staff at the main spa in Chianciano are incredibly helpful with plenty of information in English.
Montepulciano is definitely classed as a Renaissance beauty. It's on top of a steep hill, its impressive high walls remain intact, and the narrow cobbled streets within are still lined with historic stone buildings.
Visit a winery
Nearby Montepulciano is home to the famous Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montepulciano wines. Situated under the Palazzo Tarugi and Palazzo Sinatti (two of the oldest buildings in the town) is the Talosa Cellar. Take a tour of these 16th century cellars which include an Etruscan tomb and then enjoy tasting these renowned wines or try the Cantina Contucci just off the Piazza Grande, where you can view how the city's jail was converted into a wine cellar.
Often described as Florence's rival, Siena is well worth a visit. More gothic in style, this striking medieval town spills across three hilltops. Siena's heart is its unique central piazza, Il Campo, shaped like a shell with scalloped edges and known worldwide for the famous Palio run, a horse race that is run around the piazza every summer. The painters Duccio, Simone Martini and the Lorenzetti brothers made Siena their home and were among a host of brilliant artists who created the distinctive Sienese style.
Bring your tennis racquets
Hone your tennis skills or just have a friendly knock-up at the courts in Chianciano Terme.
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