Places to visit around Podere Sant’Angelo

Roccalbegna (15 mins)

Roccalbegna is the nearest village to Podere Sant'Angelo, originally a southern outpost of the Republic of Siena, of note are the parallel lines of lanes inside the town's walls. There are a couple of well-stocked 'alimentari' (grocers), a renowned butchers, a post office and bank (with ATM). There's also a pizzeria/trattoria 'La Grotta' and the restaurant of the La Pietra Hotel. You can clamber up to the top of the Rocca that looks over the town. The 'Cassero' is worth a visit too on the other side of the main road, there are great views from here down the Albegna valley to Rochette di Fazio.

the terracota tiled rooftops of roccalbegna with the 'rocca' rocky outcrop rising in the background
the sant'agostino church in santa fiora with view towards monte labro

Santa Fiora (20 mins)

Santa fiora is mentioned by Dante in his Divine Comedy, this quaint town (officially 'one of the most beautiful small towns in Italy') on the slopes of Monte Amiata is well worth a visit. The Pieve delle Sante Flora e Lucilla church has a renowned collection of glazed terracota works created by the great renaissance ceramacist della Robbia. Beneath the town the Peschiera park with its lake full of carp is of interest too.

Monte Amiata (20 mins)

Monte Amiata is the highest point of southern Tuscany (1,738m). Monte Amiata is visible from Siena southwards and is covered in extensive beech forests, on the lower slopes chestnut trees predominate. The mountain is criss-crossed with roads and there are numerous lovely trails through the woods (called 'the magic forest' by some guests from the USA). This is a popular spot with locals to escape the heat of summer and enjoy a barbecue with friends. 

the slopes of monte amiata covered in beech forests
arcidosso the medieval centre with its castle

Arcidosso (30 mins)

This is the nearest town to Podere Sant'Angelo and has a good selection of shops including a couple of supermarkets (Conad & Co-Op). The main square is a nice place for a coffee, from here you can explore the old medieval centre with its castle and churches. Visit Il Mondo Magico for a lovely collection of hand painted ceramics with a Tuscan touch (all at reasonable prices). There's also quite a large market here every Tuesday morning.

Saturnia (30 mins)

Since Etruscan times Saturnia's been famous for its hot sulfurous springs and people are still enjoying the wellness effects of a dip in the hot water. The waterfall ('cascatelle') by the former water mill are where most people go today. Access is free and you can visit the pools 24 hours a day. A good time is late afternoon when it's less crowded and the light is beautiful. To visit leave you car in the car park about 300m from the road that leads down to the waterfall.

The nearby hotel Terme di Saturnia offers access to non-residents for a morning or afternoon and has extensive pools and cascades. The main square in the village at the top of the hill has some nice bars for an aperitivo.

people lying in the hot spring pools at the waterfall near saturnia
the stunning location of sant'antimo abbey with monte amiata in the background

Sant'Antimo Abbey (40 mins)

This is one of one of the most beautiful buildings in southern Tuscany. The abbey is 15 minutes from the famous wine town Montalcino and is in a stunning location with views to Monte Amiata just off the via Francigena, the pilgrim route to Rome. Dating from the ninth century the Cistercian abbey is richly decorated with animal motifs. There's a circular three hour trek from the abbey with stunning views of Monte Amiata, ask your host for details.

If you're in the neighbourhood around lunchtime try the 'Osteria Bassamondo' at Castelnuovo dell'Abate - the absolute epitome of 'simple is better', with delicious home made pasta and sauces on the menu, the 'pici' are my favourite.

Pitigliano (40 mins)

Perched on its rocky outcrop Pitigliano is at the centre of an area famous for its Etruscan remains. The Etruscans pre-dated the Romans and many features of their culture were adopted by the Roman Empire, and subsequently by the Catholic church (most importantly winged angels). In the Middle Ages there was a Jewish quarter here, and the synagogue is well worth a visit. The tiny village of Sovana, en route to Pitigliano, is well worth a visit too.

A word of warning

DO NOT use Google Maps or any other navigation system to get to Pitigliano from Podere Sant'Angelo, they will invariably send you the wrong way. Instead, from Podere Sant'Angelo head for Semproniano, then San Martino sul Fiora and come back the same way.

pitigliano perched on its rocky outcrop on a beautiful sunny day
val d'orcia at dawn with a hilltop farmhouse at the end of a road lined with cypresses

Val d'Orcia (40 mins)

This area became a UNESCO heritage landscape due to its fame from renaissance times when it featured as a backdrop to just about every famous renaissance painting and fresco from Florence and Siena. The area abounds with the archetypal Tuscan image of hilltop farmhouse reached by a long winding drive lined with tall cypress trees. Visit Castiglione d'Orcia and San Quirico d'Orcia and wander along the quaint lanes of these beautiful villages. Pienza, famous for its pecorino cheeses and renaissance palazzi, is definitely worth a visit too.

Il Giardino di Daniel Spoerri (40 mins)

At the beginning of the nineties the Swiss artist Daniel Spoerri started to establish a sculpture garden near Seggiano. To date there are 113 installations by 55 artists in an area of about 16 ha. The art works vary enormously from the entertaining to the mystifying, don't miss the reconstruction in rusty steel of the simple hotel room in Paris where Spoerri stayed when he was a student. The garden is open from Easter to October and is located just before Seggiano on the road from Castel del Piano..

sculpture in daniel spoerri's garden in seggiano of two men on a rocking ladder
geraniums in a vase and box hedges in the garden at la foce at the southern end of the val d'orcia

La Foce garden and country house (60 mins)

One of Italy's most famous gardens is located at the southern end of the Val d'Orcia. The garden is an unusual mix of Italian formal and English informal due in no small part to its original owner Iris Origo. Iris Origo is well-known in the area for her activities during the second world war when she helped escaped allied prisoners of war and orphaned children from the north of Italy. At great risk, Iris kept a diary during this period, this was later published as 'War in Val d'Orcia' and is still in print. 

Parco Maremma (60 mins)

This large nature reserve along the coast south of Grosseto includes one of Italy's most beautiful and unspoilt beaches. There are two ways to access the beach: there's a small car park right on the beach, this fills up early during the summer but people do start to leave around 17.00; there's a shuttle bus service that leaves from nearby Alberese, the last bus back leaves at dusk; you can also hire a bike in Alberese and cycle to the beach.

Top tip

A memorable day out by the sea is to be had by hiring a bike and riding through the park to the beach, you arrive at the beach a couple of miles south of the car park and have the place pretty much to yourself. Ask your host for details.

beautiful unspoilt sandy beach in the parco maremma on a lovely sunny day
the harbour and old centre of castiglione della pescaia on a cloudless summer day

Castiglione della Pescaia (75 mins)

This lovely small, traditional Italian seaside resort has an interesting old centre and some good clothes shops, along with some great places to eat seafood. My favourite is La Terazza, the food is good and there are stupendous views southwards to the Parco Maremma. Castiglione has the usual Italian 'bagni' with their serried rows of 'ombrellone', there are also some public areas for bathing.

Il Giardino dei Tarocchi, Capalbio (80 mins)

This is a truly astounding collection of sculptures, some 15m high, by the franco-american artist Niki de Saint Phalle. The large sculptures represent 22 tarot cards and are made of steel and concrete covered with mirrors, glass and ceramics. The works are inspired by Gaudi's Parc Guell in Barcelona. It took 17 years to complete the garden and is the culmination of Niki's lifelong dream. Be sure to book your tickets online before visiting as the park is very popular!

The nearby hilltop village of Capalbio is worth a visit and on the way back you could call into Orbetello near the Argentario peninsular.

colourful large sculpture repesenting a tarot card character by niki de saint phalle at the 'Giardino degli Tarocchi'