This is a land which has not been unchanged by the passing of time.
Its fascination is greatest as the seasons change or in winter when morning mists rise from the Val di Chiana, the feathery fronds of vapour lie in the valleys , the woods are dark and bare.
In summertime, as far as the eye can see, ochrous pastures , scorched by the oppressive heat, alternate with Mediterranean macchia or brush, with woods of evergreen oaks, conifers and deciduous oaks.
Tall and proud above the copses and on ridges, alone or in rows, clumps or rings, the dark lances of cypresses stand sentinel interspersed whit the elegant umbrellas of the Mediterreanean Pines. Whole hillsides are covered with the yellow hues of scented broome. Small turquoise ponds sparkle beside streams, or lie deep in sliced valleys. The farmhouses are in perfect accord with the land and are perhaps the most beautiful in Tuscany.
Built with local stone of tawny, ochre and violet shades inlaid with fossil shells, with graceful arches and loggias of brickwork, courtyards , threshing floors, covered terraces, dovecotes and porticoes, they offer a spontaneous yet knowledgeable architecture.
The same can be said for the small “borghi” (village estates) with their austere main houses, their chapels, the dark parks of evergreen oaks, the stables, and a little apart, the farmworkers’ homes.
Also the dusty white lanes which zig-zag crazily along the borders of each property, the shrines and tabernacles with discoloured saints painted on their walls, those founts of spring water, for the formerly arduous or to quench animal thirsts.
In a suggestive and rich scenery of charm places of faith are found, abodes historical and precious testimonies of art and culture.
Local speech preserves a richness and originality which amaze outsiders. Certain terms seem out of date yet there they are in the dictionary, confirming the theory that here is the birth-place of Italian.
In you ask the way of elder locals they will direct you with no reference to right or left, to distance in miles or road signs , but rather with a more ancient topography known to all: a pound (fontone), a sloping field (piaggia), a field’s edge (proda), a milestone (cippo), a drinking fountain (canella), a fully (borro), the tip of a solitary cypress, a sculpted Madonna (Madonnino), a farm.
Today the borders of the Sienese countryside reflect the eccentric outline of a province draw out in the 1700s by a Grand Duke fervently intent on reform.
A lifestyle whose essence has been drawn from millennia of history, a plan for harmony, a concentration of excellence: these produced an unmistakable identity.
All around the view takes in vineyards, fields, woodlands and olive groves arranged according to the precepts of the sharecropper culture which long prevailed here, with property undergoing repeated division over the centuries and owned by a multitude of bourgeois city-dwellers or locals with a staid, conservative attitude toward land management.
On summer evenings these towns appear as trails of lights in the distance, surrounded by blinking fireflies in the nearby wheat fields and the overhead dome of night sky among the most striking to be admired in Tuscany.
Country and urban hiking, horse riding, itineraries for bikers, there are a million opportunities to encounter, discover and experience this immense natural territory and its breathtaking landscape.
The visitor’s eye takes in the waving wheat, the olive trees and the rolling vineyards as part of a fresco affording infinite perceptions.