I grew up in the northwest of England. After my studies in Scotland I left the UK to live and work in many different countries. After spending several years in the world’s most beautiful metropolises (including Tokyo), I now value living in close contact with nature. For more than ten years I have been enjoying life here at Podere Sant’Angelo. I enjoy sharing my experiences here in the Maremma with my guests. I am happy to advise on the places you to visit and where you can eat well. The unique view from Podere Sant’Angelo makes this a really special place. The view runs down towards the sea as far as Porto Santo Stefano. On the other side Monte Labro, an outlier of Monte Amiata, rises up. Wonderful sunsets wait for you in front of your holiday home, then the black night sky releases an amazing view of the Milky Way.
Bagno Vignoni in the val d’Orcia is a 40 minute drive from Podere Sant’Angelo and is famous for its hot springs. This walk takes about 3 hours. You walk along the river Orcia, then up to the top of the hill above the village with wonderful views across the Orcia valley, as you come down again you pass through the lovely hamlet of Vignoni. The path starts to the left of the water basins used by the water mills. Walk down to the wide path that follows the river (you can hear the river but you can’t see it). Continue past some old quarry buildings and keep right on the main path over some rocks into the woods. Follow the path along the bottom edge of a field. You come to a T-junction from where you can see the old suspension bridge to the left. Turn right and walk through the woods to the top of the hill where you see an old cemetery. Continue a little more then turn right to walk past a couple of ‘agriturismi’. There are views across the valley to Montalcino and Pienza. Stay on this road till you come to a junction where San…
Monte Labro (1,193m) is clearly visible from Podere Sant’Angelo. There are great views from here west across to Corsica and Elba, north to Siena and east to Monte Amiata. This walk starts in the Parco Faunistico. To get there take the road to Arcidosso, after about 6km take the left turning and follow the signs for the Parco Faunistico. The path to Monte Labbro starts in front of the park’s cafe. To return I suggest you walk down to the car park below Monte Labbro and follow the unmade roads back to the Parco Faunistico. This walk takes about 3 hours. For a longer walk start from Merigar, the buddhist monastery. Leave your car here and follow the unmade road that heads north. After a couple of kilometers you join the road that leads to the Parco Faunistico. The Tibetan style buildings and sculptures around the Merigar complex are worth visiting as is the small shop in the information centre.
Rochette di Fazio is a little hamlet on the top of a hill opposite the WWF nature reserve. This walk takes you down to the Albegna river and then up to Rochette (4 hours there and back). On leaving Podere Sant’Angelo turn right and walk down the gravel road until the last farmhouse (5km). Follow the road to the left of the farmhouse down to the river. You walk along the right hand side of a stream until you are forced to cross the stream where you can see the Albegna river. Here you can continue along the Albegna river to the ‘gorge’ where there are pools of lovely cool water (it can be very hot here in the summer). The path up to Rochette starts on the left just after you cross over the stream. Take this path and you come to an unmade road. Here you can choose the old old mule trail that starts on the left (it’s steep in places) and goes up through the woods to Rochette. For an easier walk follow the road to the right. Rochette is very picturesque and has a good osteria ‘Il Piccolo Borgo’ (call ahead to check it’s open:…
Leaving Podere Sant’Angelo you turn left and after about 15 minutes (you see a map of the local paths) turn left into the forest along a marked track. As you walk through the forest we navigate around the mudbaths frequented by the local wild boar. When you reach Triana (after about 40 minutes) the first sight that impresses is Triana castle (Castello di Triana) which dates back to 776 in documents of the San Salvatore Abbey. In 1388 it was turned over to the Piccolomini of Siena until 1962. For six centuries the Piccolomini owned all the land around as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately at the moment it’s not possible to visit the castle.
The walk to Roccalbegna takes about an hour, depending on how often you stop and look at all the wonderful flowers. You turn right as you leave the garden of Podere Sant Angelo. Walk down hill for about 300m and take the first road on the right. This road goes down to the bottom of the valley. There’s a ford at the bottom. There may be some water here! Remember that Roccalbegna is quite high which means you will be going uphill for most of the second part. Places to visit: • Ss. Pietro e Paolo, Romanic church from the 1200s, it has a beautiful, recently restored triptych of the Senese school • the Rocca, the pinnacle of rock that towers above the village, there are wonderful views from here down the Albegna valley to the sea • the Cassero, the Senese fortification opposite the Rocca, again there are wonderful views from here • a wander around the lanes of the village In Roccalbegna you can also do some shopping. The one shop not to miss is the butcher’s. Try his delicious sausages and the ricotta cheese.
Siena is a lovely example of a medieval city with the famous ‘Campo’ at its centre, where the ‘Palio’ horse race takes place. I suggest calling in to the ‘Il Doccio’ bar on the way to the city to try one of the best porchetta rolls in Tuscany. Once at Siena head for the ‘Campo’ car park for reasonably priced parking near the centre. Podere Sant’Angelo is about 1.25 hours drive from Siena.
For garden lovers I recommend a visit to La Foce east of Monte Amiata. The garden here was designed in the 1930s for the Origo family by the English landscape gardener Cecil Pinsent. It is a mix of formal Italian style with box hedges and lemon trees and informal English style that blends into the surrounding countryside. There are spectacular views across the Val d’Orcia to Monte Amiata. When in flower (early spring) the over 100m long wisteria vine is a wonderful spectacle. From spring to autumn the garden is open on Wednesday afternoons.