Arcidosso is one of the loveliest towns around Monte Amiata. Striking and characterful, the oldest part of the town is characterized by the Rocca Aldobrandesca, attacked by the Sienesi in 1331 under the command of Guidoriccio da Fogliano and which passed under Medici control in 1559.
Arcidosso’s name is first recorded in a document from 860 relating to some houses and farms owned by the Abbey of San Salvatore. Its name probably comes from the Latin Arx e Dossum, Fortezza sul dosso.
Upon arriving in Arcidosso, one of the first things that grabs your attention is the impressive Monument to the Fallen at Work. To the right of the steps is a stone showing where David Lazzaretti, the Amiata Prophet, was killed in 1878.
Before heading into the old town center, stop at the church of Madonna delle Grazie (or dell’Incoronata), one of the holiest sanctuaries in the Amiata. A myriad of artworks are kept here, all by the Sienese school, including the “Virgin Mary in Glory among the Saints Sebastiano and Rocco” by Ventura Salimbeni and a “Madonna with Child” dating to the early 1400s from the Palazzo della Capitaneria, now displayed on the main altar.
Immediately outside the Porta Talassese is the little gem of the Sant’Andrea Church, dating back to 1118.
Along the road that leads to the village stands an intriguing neogothic fountain in cast iron, crafted in Follonica in the grand ducal foundries. A few ramps along and you’ll find yourself at the bottom of the Rocca, looking out over a quiet piazza.
The Rocca Aldobrandesca is one of the oldest and best-conserved medieval castles in Amiata. A visit to this important historic building is unmissable, offering you the chance to wander along an archaeological-artistic journey through the castle’s – and the wider area’s – history.
This is the perfect point to explore the paved streets that make up the heart of the historic centre; along these is the medieval San Niccolò Church, well worth having a look around. A downhill slope leads to the Terziere del Codaccio neighborhood and the San Leonardo church, built in the 12th century and reworked in the 1500s. The interior, which was destroyed in World War II, houses a number of important paintings including the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (1588-89) by Francesco Vanni. On the road to Montelaterone, a downhill section among beautiful chestnut groves leads to the Parish church of Santa Maria ad Làmulas, built in 1268 on the remains of an older building. Despite alterations which had already begun in the second half of the 13th century as well as modern restorations, it’s one of the most significant examples of Romanesque architecture in Southern Tuscany.
Those who are interested in spirituality should definitely not miss a visit to the Monte Labbro in the municipality of Arcidosso, which – other than being a site of ecological interest (it’s actually not protected by the Monte Labbro Nature Reserve) – is known for its Torre Giurisdavidica, the tower at the top of the area. This is all that remains of the religion founded by David Lazzaretti in the 1800s.
The Monte Amiata Faunistic Park, also in the Reserve, is the perfect place for a day with the family. While walking along paths surrounded by greenery, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of deer, fallow deer, roe deer, mouflons in their natural environment.
On the very same mountain’s slopes is the Temple of Merigar West, a spiritual refuge of an important Tibetan community since the 1980s.
Arcidosso is one of a few places that produce the Castagna del Monte Amiata PGI, distinctive in its delicate and sweet taste thanks to the area’s volcanic landscape.
Definitely try the roast chestnuts as well as the castagnaccio (chestnut cake) and the polenta made from chestnut flour.