From the picturesque ancient village of Capalbio to the surreal beauty of the hot natural springs in Bagni di San Filippo, we have selected a series of stops not to be missed in two of the most fascinating territories of Tuscany. Between nature, culture and, of course, good food and an overnight stay with a high rate of comfort and luxury.
Although Tuscany is one of the most visited regions in the World, especially for Florence, rightly called “the cradle of the Renaissance”, it is a particularly rich and varied territory not only for its main and most famous city. With seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a history dating back to the Bronze Age and breathtaking natural landscape, the italian region is also the perfect place for a little road trip on a week-end, discovering stunning and surprising places off the beaten path. Starting from Maremma: this is a large area in southern Tuscany, between the provinces of Livorno and Grosseto and, most of all, a place with ancient roots. Along the Aurelia road you can find the beautiful Capalbio, already visible from the road.
The town it’s really worth a visit, especially for the historic center – which is only accessible by foot – where at its highest point you can find the “Rocca Aldobrandesca“: built in medieval times, it has a spectacular tower leaning against the Collacchioni Palace. Although its interior is quite bare, some rooms are finely decorated, and in one of these we find a particularly valuable piece: the piano that Giacomo Puccini played during his stays in Capalbio. One of the most curious places in the area, but in Italy in general, is the Giardino dei Tarocchi, created by Niki de Saint Phalle. This is an esoteric garden on the Garavicchio hill, where you can find cyclopean sculptures from 12 to 15 meters dedicated to the symbols of the tarots, in particular the 22 major arcana: an actual “en plein air” museum with an exceptional charm, where Niki de Saint Phalle worked on the construction from 1979 to 1998. In order to preserve the magical atmosphere that reigns in the artistic park, visits are only possible from April to October.
But where to take advantage of the excellent Tuscan cuisine in the surroundings? In the small hilltop town of Montemerano you can find “Da Caino”, an authentic Tuscan restaurant two Michelin-starred. Here its chef, Valeria Piccini, creates regionally-inspired dishes that perfectly combines simplicity and creativity, in a perfect balance between rich flavours and astonishing combinations that really make feel the emotion and the love that get across. The restaurant produces its own wines, as well as an exceptional olive oil from groves containing some 900 trees.
Then, to fully enjoy your stay in Maremma, we recommend you to get closer to the sea, precisely to the splendid peninsula of Monte Argentario, to be able to wake up with the smell of the sea breeze. Here, in Porto Ercole, lies the Hotel Il Pellicano, a luxury boutique hotel which started life in 1965, when the Anglo-American couple Patricia and Michael Graham built a cliff-side villa for their glamorous parties. In 1979 the house was sold to present owner, entrepreneur Roberto Sciò, and a lot of celebrities came there through the years, from Kirk Douglas to Sophia Loren. Il Pellicano is the ideal place where being delighted by a splendid view because of its position: once inside, the guests are completely unaware of any nearby buildings. Apart from the yachts during summer. The rooms have been decorated inspired by the sea and Tuscan hues, some have sea views, and others overlook the mediterranean gardens, and all of them have a terrace or a balcony. In the bathrooms we can find Carrara marble or sophisticated tiles, with custom-made products by maître parfumeur Maria Candida Gentile. Last but not least, the spa of Il Pellicano uses Santa Maria Novella products from Florence.
For the second day of your weekend between Maremma and Val d’Orcia, we recommend a tour of the natural thermal baths, starting from the hot springs in Saturnia: the famous “Cascate del Mulino” present bubbling waters seeping through the Earth’s crust in an area stretching from Mount Amiata to the hills of Albenga and Fiora, and are rich in mineral deposits with a temperature of 37.5 °C, which have therapeutic and relaxing properties.
After your natural spa session, you may want to stop and take some time to explore the small town of Saturnia, a small town close to an Etruscan necropolis along the Roman road Clodia. Continuing your journey in the direction of Monte Amiata, you will find an excellent opportunity to stop for lunch: in the enchanting village of Pescina, where the tavern of the post station once stood, today here it is the Michelin-starred restaurant “Silene“, by Roberto Rossi, a place capable of gathering the ancient knowledge of good food and create a dynamic and avant-garde cuisine. The simplicity of the finest raw materials and the strong roots in the Seggianese territory are two fundamental ingredients in Silene’s cuisine, where a deep and visceral bond with the environment and its products reigns: from mushrooms to truffles, through the highest quality meat and fish, to freshly picked vegetables, everything at Silene rigorously follows the rhythm of seasonality, reinterpreted through the chef’s fervent creativity.
After Saturnia, for lovers of thermal baths it is impossible not to go to Val d’Orcia: the absolute protagonist here is the untouched landscape, between green valleys, the Orcia river, and the vineyards for the renowned wines of Brunello and Val d’Orcia DOC: it is no wonder that this territory is protected as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In this area you can visit the little town of Castiglion d’Orcia, with its fortress, and the picturesque Pienza, a real jewel known as the “Ideal City”, with the beautiful Palazzo Piccolomini. Then, you can relax yourself in one of the many thermal baths of the region, such as the ones in Bagni di San Filippo with its White Whale waterfall: the name comes from for the impressive calcium formation that characterizes the site, and its similarity to the mouth of a whale. The surreal atmosphere created by calciferous formations, waterfalls and small pools of hot water surrounded by the woods will seem to take you to another, dreamy world. Nevertheless, the calcium formation are really delicate, and you should not can walk on it.
In the late afternoon, we recommend you to go to Castiglione dell’Orcia, a town that is worth visiting for its rolling hills as well as for its artistic works, from the old Church of Santa Maria Maddalena, a Romanesque wonder made of stone, to the Church of Santi Stefano e Degna. The heart of Castiglione, Piazza il Vecchietta – named after the Castiglione-born artist – is home to the splendid Palazzo del Comune and an array of medieval buildings. Also, don’t miss the Rocca di Tentennano, a 13th-century fortress that emerges from a calciferous ridge in the heart of the Val d’Orcia. Here in this town, we selected for you one of the best restaurants to have dinner in the region: the freshly Michelin-starred Osteria Perillà.
Here, creative cuisine with exotic crossovers meets the authentic flavors of the area, from the Guinea fowl breast “Podere Forte” in pickled vegetables to the more classic Homemade Plin pasta filled with tomato consommé. The dining room present a delightful view over the mediaeval village center and displays a collection of artwork, but the guests can enjoy their meal also on the outdoor terrace, surrounded by white hydrangeas in the shade of lofty maritime pines. The kitchen is partially visible through a large glass window, so the more curious guests can observing the chef and his crew at work. To end this Tuscan weekend in style, treat yourself staying overnight at the Relais Osteria dell’Orcia, which summerizes the ultimate Tuscan elegance, the wonders of a private residence and the Italian “art de vivre”. The Relais has 16 bedrooms all decorated and furnished differently from each other, where the guests can take advantage of the silence of the Val d’Orcia countryside, sheltered in an intimate, large and green flower-colored garden. And, of course, sip a drink by the pool.