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Via Francigena

By just stepping out of the hotel door, crossing the square in front, and going on for about 100 metres you are immediately on the route of Via Francigena and the stretch which takes one from San Quirico to Radicofani. If you turn to the left then after a couple of kilometres you come to Vignoni Alto, a borgo of ancient beauty, and which boasts the the small church of San Biagio with its stone bell-tower, and there are too the old stone houses to admire. The views are captivatong and extend as far as the eye can see. Walking on a gravel track for a few more kilometres you come to San Quirico, and if anything the panorama which greets you is even more sensational. Down in the valley are Montalcino and Pienza, and looking to the south you see Monte Cetona and even closer are Radicofani and the Amiata area: it really does seem that Val d’Orcia wants to show off all its splendour. If, however, you turn to the right you reach the river Orcia itself, and you can then cross a small bridge to go up to Castiglione. It is well worthwhile to do so because the old town centre has precious things to see: in the Palazzo Comunale there is the "Madonna con Bambino e due Santi" fresco which comes from the famous Sienna school of artists, the Roman church of S. Maria Maddalena, the front of which dates back to the 13th century and the apse is even a century older; the Santi Stefano church and Degna, the latter having been the most important religious building in Castiglione, this due to the works of art it contained – amongst which were a "Madonna col Bambino" by Simone Martini and another by Pietro Lorenzetti; the ruins of the Rocca Aldobrandesca, made up of lengths of wall, and which today on the southern aspect are presented as square blocks presenting themselves as a polygon protection, and from where you can enjoy great views over Amiata and Val d'Orcia.

Fo whoever wishes to go a little further there is a great downhill taking you to Briccole, which was once a hospital but is today in a state of abandon. To move on to Radicofani it is sufficient to direct yourself uphill again. It is not the easiest of uphills but you are repaid for your effort with the stunning views which come into sight along the way.

The stretch which goes from San Quirico to Radicofani is 32.5 kilometres long. All information can be found on the officila site of Via Francigena, www.viefrancigene.org, or alternatively on the equally detailed map of the Tuscany Region: www.regione.toscana.it/via-francigena. Enjoy your walk on these paths of enlightenment!

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Collegiata San Quirico

Fortunate are the pilgrims Along the way of via Francigena able to find cover among these sculptured rocks of a comforting grace.

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Amiata is the sacred mountain of the Etruscans: here there are ancient mines from which it is possible to still extract a fascinating history

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