A new car park just off the autostrada at Villa Costanza has made day trips to Florence easier. The parking costs €4.00 for 8 hours and it’s located at the end of the tram line into the centre (€1.20, 20 minutes). What’s more, there’s a fantastic bar near the car park. Podere Sant’Angelo is about 2.5 hours drive from Florence.
At 1490m Monte Amiata is the highest point in southern Tuscany and is visible from miles around. On the lower slopes there are extensive chestnut woods (the chestnuts feature a lot in local dishes) higher up the chestnut trees are replaced by beech trees. Monte Amiata has one of the largest beech forests in Europe. It’s nice to visit at any time of year and it’s possible to reach the top of the mountain if you park near the top and walk the last 600m or so. The views aren’t great as there are so many trees but it’s lovely to walk here at any time of year. From Podere Sant’Angelo head towards Arcidosso, at Aiuole (the helicopter pad) take a right and then a left to drive up the mountain. The same road leads to Abbadia San Salvatore on the northern side of the mountain.
Castiglione della Pescaia is a traditional Italian seaside resort with a good selection of seafood restaurants and ice cream shops. Castiglione also has one of the cleanest beaches in the whole of Italy. My favourite restaurant is ‘Ristorante Molo Sedici‘ above the quay where the local fishing boats pull in. From Podere Sant’Angelo it takes about 75 minutes to get to Castiglione. Before you arrive in Grosseto take the Aurelia, direction Livorno, exit at Grossseto Nord, take a right along the old Aurelia after a few kilometres take a left towards Castiglione – this way saves you from going through Grosseto.
The Val d’Orcia is located to the east of Monte Amiata about 45 minutes from Podere Sant’Angelo. With its hilltop farmhouses and lines of cypress trees this is the place to enjoy the archetypal Tuscan landscape. My favourite places here are the amazing castle at Castiglione d’Orcia from the top of the castle there are stunning views across the whole of the valley, San Quirico d’Orcia with its lovely renaissance garden, the Horti Leonini, and the beautiful gardens at La Foce.
This lovely town on the slopes of Monte Amiata is famous for the renaissance ceramics by Andrea della Robbia. You can see these in the Pieve delle Sante Flora e Lucilla in the upper part of the town. The main square, again in the upper part of the town, is very charming. The medieval fishpool and surrounding park in the lower part of town is also worth a visit, especially on a hot summer’s afternoon.
Saturnia takes its name from the Roman god Saturn (or Saturnus). Legend has it that he grew tired of the constant wars of humans, and sent a thunderbolt to earth that created a magic spring of warm sulphurous water which would pacify mankind. Here you can enjoy the 800 liters a second of sulferous water at a temperature of 37.5 °C that attract visitors from all over Italy. Most people head to the waterfall next to a restored water mill, you can also take the waters at the five star ‘Terme di Saturnia’ hotel. Access to the waterfall is free and it’s open 24/7. To get there keep on on the road to Montemerano, drive along the straight stretch of road past the petrol station, at the turning to the left keep straight on. There’s a large car park at the end of the access road on the right. The best time to visit is late afternoon. Saturnia itself has a pleasant main square with several restaurants/pizzerie and a couple of good ice cream shops!
For more than 30 years the Swiss artist, Daniel Spoerri, has been adding pieces of sculpture to this large ‘garden’ of 16 hectares. Today there are over 100 installations by 50 artists. The garden is located in a spot with lovely views over the Val’d’Orcia on the lower slopes of Monte Amiata near Seggiano, about 35 minutes from Podere Sant’Angelo.
This is a former Benedictine monastery near Montalcino about 40 minutes from Podere Sant’Angelo on the north side of Monte Amiata. Earliest records date the first abbey here from 813. The abbey buildings are located in a beautiful Tuscan setting. From Podere Sant’Angelo a visit to the abbey can be tied in with a day trip to nearby Montalcino, famous for its Brunello wine.
Both Morellino di Scansano and Montecucco DOC wines are produced in the Roccalbegna area. Morellino di Scansano DOCG, as the name suggests, is made mainly in the hills around the village of Scansano. Morellino is the local name for Sangiovese grapes, which makes up at least 85% of the wines. DOC status was granted in 1978 and since then the wine has become well-known in Italy. Montecucco wines were granted DOC status in 1998. The Montecucco area lies between the Morellino di Scansano and Brunello di Montalcino areas. Montecucco Rosso is made with Sangiovese (minimum 60%) and other red grapes. Roccalbegna’s Villa Patrizia winery is located on road to Grosseto just after the village of Cana. Villa Patrizia produce organic wines from both the Morellino di Scansano and Montecucco denominated areas.