San Quirico d'Orcia
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San Quirico d'Orcia is an historical village, probably of etruscan origins, situated at about 40 km south from Siena, on the hills that divide the two river valleys of Asso and Orcia. Becouse of its position, in the middle of the main Francigen Route, it has been for long time a point of passage for wayfarers, pilgrims and merchants on the way to Rome. One of them was Frederick I of Svevia who met here the Pope Adrian IV ambassadors. This historical moment is celebrated every year the third Sunday of June with Il Barbarossa day. People wearing historical costumes show in a flag-waving and bow-shooting race.
Furthermore, even a short visit of the village of San Quirico d'Orcia becomes very interesting: go for instance, to its Public Library and look for the Archieves of Garden Art (collection of books and pictures about the gardens) or just wander through the narrow streets full of history, evidence of how the village developped along the Francigen Route.
Coming from the South, you will find the Santa Maria Assunta Church (of XI c.), the Rose Garden, the remains of the old Ospedale della Scale, the Horti Leonini (garden of the XVI c.), Palazzo Chigi (XVII c.), Palazzo Pretorio (housing now the administration offices of Natural Artistic Park of Val d'Orcia), the Collegiata Church (XII c.), Cappuccini Town Gate (North-Eastern passage into the town on the way from Pienza), and many other artistical actractions within the ancient city walls.
Last but not least, don't forget to visit Bagno Vignoni (4 km south, on the Cassia Route), a sort of magic, known as a therapeutical spa resort already in ancient times with hot steam coming out from its waters. From there you will have a beautiful view on the Val d'Orcia: the river Orcia, the hard feature of Castle Ripa d'Orcia, the austerity of Rocca d'Orcia and backwards, the charming upper part of the old village Vignoni Alto. Far away you can even see the high and fascinating Peak of Mount Amiata, dominating the Valley, summer and winter mount resort for skying and trekking.
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