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Valdichiana Senese: the land of well-being
Five reasons that make the Valdichiana Senese a land of well-being

In Valdichiana Senese there are a great many things which have led its inhabitants, over the centuries, to call it a land of good living. Even those who come to these hills for a vacation or just happen to chance upon them feel a sense of peace and well-being enveloping the body and the spirit. It does not matter what time of the year it is, because the natural and cultural vim of Valdichiana Senese enhance every side of this Tuscan land the year round. But what are the reasons that make Valdichiana Senese a land of wellbeing, to which it is so hard to say goodbye?

Location
Lake Chiusi, Tuscany
Lake Chiusi, Tuscany- Credit:  Gael Bassetto

The Sienese Valdichiana is a stretch of open countryside, apparently remote but not far from the cities of Siena, Arezzo, Florence, even Perugia and Rome. It runs north to south, covering an area of ​​about 691 km² in south-east Tuscany. On its northern border you can see the Apennine foothills and the surroundings of Arezzo; to the east lie the shores of the Umbrian Lake Trasimeno, almost touching Tuscany. At its southern edge, the high valleys of Lazio can be admired from the panoramic terraces of the southernmost villages of the Sienese Valdichiana, while to the west the sun sets every day on the hills of Val d'Orcia, a landscape declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This central location in the Italian peninsula makes Valdichiana Senese easy to reach, not only from the nearby regions of Umbria and Lazio, but also from more distant areas, thanks to the A1 motorway connection, with the "Chiusi" exits to the south and "Bettolle" to the north. Then there is the Trenitalia Freccia Rossa high-speed train, which stops right at the Chiusi-Chianciano Terme station on its way betwen the major cities of Milan, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples.


 

The landscape
The Valdichiana, seen from Montepulciano
The Valdichiana, seen from Montepulciano

Alternately hilly and flat around the lakes of Chiusi and Montepulciano, the Sienese Valdichiana has an incredible variety of landscapes with with immense natural value. These include the woods around the villages of Cetona, Chianciano Terme, Sarteano and San Casciano dei Bagni, the ancient rural stretches around Trequanda; the arable fields with old farmsteads, such as in the area between Torrita di Siena and Sinalunga, and olive groves and vineyards running as far as the eye can see outside the walls of Montepulciano and Montefollonico. The landscapes are a symphony of nature and colour, all wrapped in the typical quiet of the Tuscan countryside, backdropping the daily life and activities of the Sienese Valdichiana's inhabitants. Just look out the window to find a sense of peace and harmony with nature.

 

Food and wine
The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano previews
The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano previews

Living well has always gone hand in hand with eating well, and also with drinking well. In the Sienese Valdichiana the rich gastronomic tradition is combined with the equally rich tradition of winemaking, whose main protagonist is the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG. Made of at least 70% Sangiovese grapes, the Nobile di Montepulciano has a dry, balanced and persistent flavour, which enhances the robust dishes and products of this territory, especially the PGI-certified Chianina meat, one of the world-famous quality products of Italian cuisine. The temperate climate and the nutritional richness of the soil have for centuries permitted the extraction of an excellent extra virgin olive oil, widely used raw and to prepare traditional recipes, such as sauces for pici, the typical fresh pasta of the Sienese Valdichiana. Among these the sugo all'aglione stands out, a sauce based on a gigantic variety of sweet-flavoured garlic found in the Valdichiana. Pecorino di Pienza cheese and Cinta Senese PDO cold cuts complete the basket of flavours. Each of these specialties is available from local producers, directly on their farms, where attention to quality is confirmed by the fact that only small quantities are produced.

 

Spas
Healthy, relaxing treatments at the spas
Healthy, relaxing treatments at the spas- Credit:  Fonteverde

The most tangible aspect of the concept of wellbeing concept in the Sienese Valdichiana is represented by the spas. The thermal water of this area has always been used to treat numerous diseases, mainly of the respiratory and intestinal systems. Today its health properties are used in beauty treatments and relaxing experiences in the splendid thermal pools. Each of the three central spas in the Sienese Valdichiana, located in Montepulciano, Chianciano and San Casciano dei Bagni, offers modern and professional services for the whole family, in a unique landscape setting.

Folk traditions
Donkey race, Torrita di Siena
Donkey race, Torrita di Siena

The beating heart of this area is in its squares, especially during major events. People seem to forget the cares and worries of everyday life for a few days and plunge themselves into the party atmosphere, eagerly anticipated throughout the year. Whether historical re-enactments, food festivals or cultural dates, events are the high points of the seasons in the Sienese Valdichiana, with moments of pleasant, shared conviviality filling the souls of the people, whether natives of visitors, with memories. 

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