Nestled in the heart of Val d’Orcia, San Quirico d’Orcia is a charming medieval village often overlooked by tourists. It is a genuine treasure of Tuscany with its winding lanes, medieval city walls, and antique churches. It provides a distinctive glimpse of medieval times by harmoniously fusing natural beauty and human history.
With its winding streets, ancient city walls, and historic churches, this village is a true gem of Tuscany. It blends natural beauty and human history seamlessly to give a unique overview of medieval times.
San Quirico d’Orcia is worth visiting if you want to experience a lesser-known medieval village in Tuscany. It has a low tourist volume throughout the year and has a diverse range of attractions to offer. This village is a perfect place to immerse yourself in history, art, and architecture while enjoying the Tuscan countryside. It includes historic buildings, artworks, lush landscapes, and a lot more for visitors from around the globe.
Get ready to step back in time and discover the medieval charm of San Quirico d’Orcia. This guide will take you on a journey through the village’s rich history and stunning architecture. From hidden gems to must-see landmarks, we’ll discuss everything you need to know to make the most of your visit.
Get ready for an adventure you won’t forget!
How To Get To San Quirico d’Orcia
San Quirico d’Orcia is located in the province of Siena, Tuscany, Italy. The nearest airports are Florence Airport (FLR), Pisa Airport (PSA), and Rome Airport (FCO).
You can get to the village by Car:
- From Florence: take the A1 south towards Rome, then take the exit for Valdichiana. Follow the signs to Montepulciano and then to San Quirico d’Orcia.
- From Rome: take the A1 north towards Florence, then take the exit for Chiusi-Chianciano Terme. Follow the signs to Chianciano Terme and then to San Quirico d’Orcia.
- Take a train to Chiusi-Chianciano Terme station, then take a bus to San Quirico d’Orcia.
- Alternatively, take a train to Siena or Florence, then take a bus to San Quirico d’Orcia.
- From Siena or Florence, take a bus to San Quirico d’Orcia.
- From Rome, take a bus to Siena or Florence, then transfer to a bus to San Quirico d’Orcia.
San Quirico d’Orcia – An Overview
From the Romanesque church of Pieve dei Santi Quirico e Giulitta to the Renaissance artwork of Andrea della Robbia, San Quirico d’Orcia village is full of cultural treasures waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or a cultural adventure, this charming village has something to offer.
An Historical Etruscan Town
Its historical significance dates back to the Etruscan period. It has since passed through the hands of various ruling powers. This includes the Romans, the Lombards, and the Franks. The town’s name comes from the Pieve dei Santi Quirico e Giulitta. This was a Romanesque church dedicated to Saints Quirico and Giulitta.
The church was built in the 8th century on the site of an Etruscan temple. It was renovated several times over the centuries because of its significance. The town began to flourish in the Middle Ages and was an important stop on the Via Francigena, a medieval pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome.
During the Renaissance period, San Quirico d’Orcia was ruled by the powerful Chigi family, who commissioned the construction of several grand buildings. These include the Palazzo Chigi, which still stands in the town’s historic center!
Today, San Quirico d’Orcia is known for its well-preserved medieval architecture and its beautiful countryside. While it is a Val d’Orcia town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is still not as popular a destination as many others. This means that you won’t have to deal with a large number of tourists photo-bombing your memories!
What To See & Do In San Quirico D’Orcia?
There are countless avenues of adventure and exploration in the village. If you’re looking to explore, party, rest, pray, or need a photo spot, there are several places you can go. Here are the top five destinations you should definitely visit.
1. Explore The Historical Center
The historical center of San Quirico d’Orcia is a must-visit for all. It is one of the town’s main attractions, with its narrow streets, stone buildings, and medieval architecture. Key highlights include:
- The Piazza della Libertà. Built by the Chigi family in the 17th century, the Piazza della Libertà is a grand palace located in the heart of the village. The palace features an ornate facade decorated with intricate stonework and statues. Today, it is home to a museum dedicated to the history of the town and its surrounding area.
- The Church of San Francesco. Do you like time travel? Well, this aesthetically appealing Gothic church dating back to the 13th century will take you hundreds of years back. When visiting, don’t miss the impressive frescoes painted by the renowned Sienese artist Diomede Leoni in the 16th century!
- The Collegiate Church of Saints Quirico and Giulitta. Are you a fan of classic architecture? This church features a Romanesque facade and an elegant bell tower. Quite amazingly, the frescoes and sculptures you will see in its beautiful interior were designed by some of the most renowned artists like Andrea della Robbia.
2. Horti Leonini
The Horti Leonini is a beautiful Renaissance garden (public garden) located in the heart of the town. It was created in the 16th century by Diomede Leoni, a Sienese architect, and artist. It features terraced gardens, fountains, and a beautiful greenhouse that you can peruse through.
The park features a formal Italian garden design with symmetrical beds of flowers, hedges, and fountains. Everything is arranged around a central axis. The garden is laid out in the shape of a cross, with four avenues radiating out from a central pavilion. The pavilion is a beautiful structure decorated with frescoes and stucco work, and it offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Horti Leonini is also home to the Torre del Cassero, a medieval tower that dates back to the 14th century. The tower was once part of the town’s defensive walls. You can climb to the top for panoramic views of the surrounding area, particularly as the sun sets!
3. Chapel Vitaleta
The Chapel Vitaleta is a beautiful 14th-century chapel located on a hill overlooking San Quirico d’Orcia. It is one of the most photographed landmarks in Tuscany and is definitely worth a visit. Its surroundings have been an inspiration for many a painting over the past century.
4. Cypresses of San Quirico d’Orcia (Cipressi di San Quirico d’Orcia)
The cypress trees that line the road leading to San Quirico d’Orcia are one of the most iconic sights in Tuscany. These tall, slender trees are a symbol of the Tuscan landscape and are a must-see when visiting the village.
5. The Gladiator Photo Spot
The Gladiator Photo Spot is a must-see attraction in San Quirico d’Orcia. It is located just outside the town walls. Whether you visit during the day or night, it is a spot where you can take incredible photos with a stunning backdrop of rolling hills, cypress trees, and the iconic Via Cassia!
The name “Gladiator Photo Spot” comes from the fact that it is said to have been a filming location. The famous 2000 movie “Gladiator,” starring Russell Crowe, was filmed here. The exact spot where the filming took place is not clear, but you can still capture the magic of the location by taking photos from the designated area.
Best Places To Stay
Home is where the heart is, and the San Quirico d’Orcia medieval village has a number of places where your heart can find ease. All around the village, you’ll find a number of rest houses, hotels, and Bread and Breakfasts. However, the three that stand out in our opinion and as per reviews include:
Luxury Stay In A Historic Palace
Palazzo del Capitano is a stunning 15th-century palace located in the heart of the village. It boasts beautifully appointed rooms, a spa, a restaurant serving Tuscan cuisine, and a breathtaking garden with a panoramic view of the valley.
Farmhouse In A Tranquil Setting
Agriturismo Il Giardino Segreto is a charming family-owned farmhouse located just outside of San Quirico d’Orcia. Guests can enjoy a swimming pool, a garden with a barbecue area, and a homemade breakfast made with local ingredients. The farmhouse also offers cooking classes and wine tastings.
Cozy B&B In A Peaceful Location
B&B Podere Pienza is a cozy bed and breakfast situated in the picturesque countryside surrounding San Quirico d’Orcia. Guests can enjoy comfortable rooms, a homemade breakfast, and a peaceful garden with stunning views of the rolling hills of Tuscany.
These three stand tall as the crème da la crème of the places to stay here! During the night, simply look up and see the stars unlike ever before in full rigor!
San Quirico D’Orcia – Nearby Places To Visit
If you’re in the village for an extended stay, a number of landmarks will be in close proximity to you. Make sure you visit them, too, to further elevate your experience!
Bagno Vignoni is another medieval village located about 6 kilometers from San Quirico d’Orcia. It is famous for its thermal waters, which have been known for their healing properties since Roman times. The village is built around a large pool of hot water, which is the centerpiece of the town square.
There are also several thermal baths in the area where you can relax and enjoy the healing waters.
The small town of Pienza is located about 15 kilometers from San Quirico. It is famous for its Renaissance architecture – it was designed to become the “ideal city” – and for being the birthplace of Pope Pius II. The town is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
When in Pienza, be sure to stop by the Piazza Pio II, the Piccolomini Palace, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta!
The hilltop village of Montepulciano is located about 30 kilometers from San Quirico d’Orcia. It is famous for its red wine, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and the numerous underground cellars scattered among the alleys of the village. Each cellar is good for exploration and a taste of Vino Nobile.
When there, make a point of visiting the Piazza Grande, the Palazzo Comunale, and the Church of San Biagio.
Montalcino is another medieval town located about 35 kilometers from San Quirico. It’s famous for its wine, Brunello di Montalcino, one of the symbols of Tuscan wine production, together with Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano, Chianti, and, of course, the wines of Bolgheri. Montalcino is visited to explore its alleys, squares, castle, and numerous wine bars and shops. The landscapes of the Val d’Orcia are breathtaking in every season and, a few kilometers away, be sure to visit the Abbey of Sant’Antimo.
Conclusion: Is San Quirico d’Orcia Worth Visiting?
The town has a number of places fit for exploration; of history and nature alike. This alone makes the gem of Tuscany worth visiting. Apart from history, art, and architecture, it also offers a peaceful retreat away from the crowds.
That is not to say, though, that the village doesn’t have any modern-day services- whether you are looking for some quiet time for yourself or a new adventure with friends and family, the village definitely has something for you.