Nature train in Val d’Orcia
on Sunday from May to October
A perfect and essential landscape made up of hills, gorges, the harmonious path of the river, cypresses surrounding isolated hills or stretching in orderly lines along the sides of the roads. Hills, villages and lone monuments look over oak forests, olive groves, and vineyards where Brunello and other great wines form this corner of Tuscany are produced. To the west the landscape is bordered by Mount Amiata, the highest extinct volcano of Italy. But the most stirring feature of the landscape are its hills. In fact, Val d'Orcia is first and foremost a land of nature. Trains are usually mere means of transport, while the Treno Natura (Nature Train) is a time machine. This is the impression you get when you step onto this very peculiar train and journey along one of its many interesting itineraries. There is undeniable delight in the emotion one feels while stepping onto old carriages with doors for each compartment, towed by a vintage locomotive engine or by the famous 640 engine, which almost resembles a steaming coffee machine. This are the trains our fathers and grandfathers used to travel by, with their background noise of whistles, squeaks, and pistons. There are several itineraries to choose from, all of which unusual and irresistible thanks to the beauty of the local landscapes. Passengers have the chance to get off at quaint old stations and walk along unspoiled paths, visit countryside churches, villages, and castles, they can stop by a farm or a wine cellar and enjoy a food and wine tasting session, or they can participate in local festivals and fairs.
Pienza – Farmer Market
first Sunday of the Month
Petroio – Exhibition of Terracotta Market
third Sunday of May
Pienza – Mille Miglia Car Race Passage - 82^ Edition
The famous antique car race passes through Siena, Buonconvento and Pienza. The Mille Miglia began in 1927 as a 1,000-mile street race through some of Italy's most scenic landscapes and is now a rally for historic cars produced during the era of the original Mille Miglia (1927 to 1957). The race starts in Brescia (northern Italy) and ends in Rome.
Radicofani - Arts and Crafts Festival
1 and 2 June
Artisans at work in the streets and squares of Radicofani, with open workshops bringing back to life the lives of country folk as it used to be. The threshing season is recreated, with a large threshing machine, there is milking in the square followed by cheese production and collective clothes washing, with ash. The knife grinder, blacksmith, carpenter, wicher basket makers and lace-makers, as well as the wine cellars, are all open to the public. During the festival there are shows with balladeers, displays of wedding dresses from the 50's and 60's and photographic exhibition on Radicofani.
Barbarossa Festival – San Quirico d’Orcia
During this exciting medieval festival, sample Valdorciana specialties, watch traditional and folk performances, flag waving and archery tournaments.
Montalcino – Jazz and Wine Festival
Some of the most important interpreter of the Italian and international jazz scene will meet in the XIV century fortress of this medieval hilltop town in Tuscany. The audience can listen to these artists tasting the prestigious wine, the Brunello of Montalcino.
14° Val d’Orcia Festival and 30° Montalcino Festival
from 4th July to 23rd August
A new era for this event directed by Cristiano Pellegrini and Antonio Murciano, which takes place between some of the most beautiful medieval towns in the Val d'Orcia. The event opens with a premiere in Montalcino, July 4th, with Paolo Poli presenting the show, "Favole". From August 1th to 17th, theatre and musical appointments, including productions created "ad hoc" for the festival. Of particular note, a concert in Piazza Duomo, Pienza, by the Irish group, The Chieftains, August 1th and rock with Baustelle, in San Quirico d'Orcia. Grand finale at Montalcino, August 23nd, with a concert by Paolo Conte; the only italian date this year for the Asti singer-songwriter, who's new Cd, comes out this Autumn.
Castiglione d'Orcia - Sagra del Crostino
1 and 2 August
A celebration of crostini, the local version of canapés, in the traditional Tuscan style with liver and spleen paté or with vegetables, cheese, cold meats, or other innovations to create new appetizers.
Montisi – La Giostra di Simone
An important incident in Montisi's history is recalled in a jousting competition, held every year on the feast day of the Madonna delle Nevi, patron saint of Montisi. For a week preceding the event, exhibitions and demonstrations of local handicrafts and artisan work are held in the town. Local produce is on sale, plus street entertainments, competitions for five-a-side football teams, Contrada games, and food stalls. Contrada dinners, open to all, are held on Saturdays throughout August.
Radicofani - Sagra del Raviolo
from 16th to 20th August
A traditional gastronomic event (since 1970) with daily dancing shows and pasta made with original recipes by the women of Contignano. The particularity of the pasta is given to its stuffing, or more precisely, to the ricotta produced by the dairies of the Val d'Orcia that work with the cheese factory at Contignano.
Montepulciano – Il Bravio delle Botti
The Bravio delle Botti is an original challenge between the eight districts of Montepulciano. They compete for a painted banner "panno", by rolling 80 kg wooden barrels uphill for a distance of 1,800 meters. The barrels are pushed by two men called "spingitori". The race twists through the medieval streets of the old "Poliziano" city centre, finishing on the cathedral steps in Piazza Grande. The residents of this city are very proud of their ancient tradition and regard it with the utmost seriousness. This does not prevent them, however, from having a good time.
Montalcino – Honey Week
A market fair honoring Montalcino's famous honey, and it is held over the course of a week, with most events going on inside the Fortress keep.
Pienza - Fiera del cacio
from 3rd to 6th September
A date with the typical pecorino cheese produced in the Val d’Orcia. Three days of festivities with music, folk songs and the game, “cacio al fuso”. The grand finale is on the Sunday and involves all of Pienza’s districts.
Radicofani – Fiera delle Cipolle
Traditional onions fair at Radicofani.
Montalcino – Sagra del Tordo
Those of you who have read Isabella Dusi's book, Vanilla Beans and Brodo, will have quite a bit of knowledge about this event, as it is a major focus in her writing. The festival has as much passionate meaning to the residents of Montalcino's four quartieri as does Siena's Palio to its contrade. And although much of the Sagra del Tordo is private, as are many Palio events, there is plenty to attract visitors. They can thrill to the medieval archery tournament that is the highlight of the festa. Here, members of each quartiere compete to bring honor to their neighborhood. A marvelous historical pageant accompanies the teams to the archery range, and there is also dancing in the main piazza. The cuisine of Montalcino, as well as the famous Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino are sold inside the ancient fortress walls. Hundreds of citizens in mediaeval costume march behind them, playing music and making their way to the Chiesa San Egidio for a blessing. The afternoon pageant makes its way through the village to the archery grounds where the tournament takes place. Two archers from each quartiere compete for their teams, and the winners are heralded as heroes, with dancing, shouting, and bells ringing from their neighborhood churches.
San Giovanni d’Asso – White Truffle Festival
San Quirico d’Orcia – Olive Oil Festival