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Villages of Montisi Castelmuzio, and Trequanda in Crete Senesi

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While I have had a two-week visit in Tuscany visiting Siena and Montepulciano and other midsize towns, I have been reading about smaller villages such as Montisi and am thinking of using this smaller village as a base while traveling around the Crete Senesi to both enjoy other towns and to see the spectacular countryside and its views of hills and valleys. We hope to revisit towns we have seen but also find more of the quiet and tranquil spots throughout Tuscany. Any suggestions about the area would be helpful. We will have a car to get around and also enjoy long walks.
Monticchiello was a great find on my last trip to Tuscany, nearly totally void of tourists but also seemingly lacking any lodging. A great small hilltown, beautiful with only a few shops, one church, and no crowds but again no place to stay and really only one place I found to have a drink or eat. We'd need a bit more than this for our base location.
thanks for any help....

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    I've spent about 10-12 weeks in the area so perhaps I can provide some useful information.

    Montisi is a lovely small town and surrounded by great landscapes. It might be a bit lacking in eating choices for you though. I think there is only one true restaurant in town (and the quality is inconsistent) and a couple of bars.

    Castelmuzio is also lovely but very quiet. I think there is only one restaurant in town.

    Trequanda is a nice visit and has one good restaurant and one casual small one that is just okay.

    Monticchiello actually has two very good restaurants, a bar that serves snacks (with a view of the valley) and a few nice apartments for rent. Do more research on lodging and I think you may find something you will like

    You might consider staying in San Quirico d'Orcia. It has several restaurants, shops and bars. There are a few apartments for rent also. It is in a central location for exploring the area and easy to park.

    I always stay at Fonte Bertusi, a farmhouse with several apartments, located just outside of Pienza. It is a quick drive to several choices of towns for dinner and very central for exploring. The surrounds and views can't be beat.

    Some of my small favorite towns/villages to visit-

    Montisi
    Castelmuzio
    Petroio
    Trequanda
    Montefollonico (small but has several good places to eat, including one of my favorites- La Botte)
    Rocco d'Orcia
    Castiglion d'Orcia
    Chiusure
    Cetona

    Further south-

    Sorano (have a snack at the lovely l'Ottava Rima- local food, wine and beer, located in a cave on the side of this steep village)
    Piancastagnaio
    Radicofani
    S. Fiona
    Roccalbegna

    Great drives within the Crete-
    Montisi to Asciano- a few km after you pass through S. Giovanni d'Asso you will have a choice of turning left toward Chiusure or going straight. I recommend turning left and follow that road to Asciano and then return from Asciano on the other road to S. Giovanni d'Asso. This is a great drive an hour or two before sunset.

    Asciano to Trequanda- head from Asciano through the Crete and follow signs to Trequanda.

    Hikes-

    There is a loop hike that begins just to the east of Montisi, drops into the valley(north), then returns to the west of Montisi. I haven't done this hike but plan to do so in the future.

    Pienza loop- drops into the valley from town. One of my favorites. About 2-3 hours.

    Pienza to Monticchiello- start on the small side road at the southeast end of town that changes to a dirt road after about 100 yards. It is about 1.5 hours each way. Have lunch in Monticchiello and then hike back to Pienza.

    Montepulciano to Montefollonico- about 2 hours each way. Start at the S. Biagio church and follow the paved road until you see a dirt road heading left into the valley and turn onto it. When you get to the dry stream bed at the bottom of the hill and start up the hill you will have a choice of going left or right. Go right and follow the tractor path up the hill until you reach a paved road at the top. Turn left onto that road and follow it into town. Have lunch at La Botte and then return to Montepulciano.

    There are many hikes in the area if you just walk the dirt roads. Drive around and explore the roads. Also, the guide book Eating and Hiking in Tuscan and Umbria, will provide some nice choices.

    Be sure you get a very detailed paper map of the area. The newsstand at the entrance to Pienza has good maps and a few good local guide books. Do not rely on GPS!

    Be sure to have lunch outside, overlooking the Val d'Orcia, at the Alimentari located in the tiny town of Lucignano d'Asso. Great offerings of local cheeses and cold cuts. Lunch is a platter of meats, cheeses, country bread, raw veggies and fruit. And a carafe of wine. A unique and simple lunch in the countryside.
    There is a lovely b&b in this town but not much else. You can probably find it through Google.

    Let me know if you have questions or need more information.

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    Hi Zoecat;
    Thank you for your comments - all of them. I did a bit more digging myself and looked at some photos of Montisi. it did seem a bit too basic. You reminded me of San Quirico d'Orcia and a fantastic patio restaurant, Al Vecchio Forno, I enjoyed on my last Tuscany trip. There is a hotel next to this I may try and I will also look a bit more at Fonte Bertusi. I had seen this on a google map but did not investigate.
    Thanks for ALL the suggestions. Let me offer one of my favorites in Montepulciano - Antico Caffè Polizaiano has great food (fish) and outdoor seating. I went back for dinner but found it full and I had no evening reservation.

    Did you happen to read War in Val d'Orcia by Iris Orcia? it brings back many memories through this war diary.

    I'll save all your suggestions and try to follow up with many of them.
    Thanks, Fred

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    Hi Fred,

    I have also eaten at the restaurant you mentioned in Montepulciano and enjoyed my fish lunch. It was a few years ago, so thank you for the reminder- I need to return.

    I have read the book and loved it. I have also toured the La Foce gardens a couple of times and highly recommend the tour.

    If you enjoy gardens you might want to check out the garden located just outside (north) of San Giovanni d'Asso. It is always open and free. Not as polished as the La Foce garden but very interesting.

    When are you going and for how long?

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    Your garden recommendations sound great. Thanks. I had hoped to do La Foce on my last trip but just too, too much on the agenda. I spent a lot of time in Siena on that trip and only got to Montepulciano for four nights and need more time around there this time.
    My plan it to go mid-May next year. I did early April last year. I would really like to go in the fall and see the fields of sun flowers and other fall colors. I took a drive from Asciano to Montepulciano (missed Abbey di Monte Oliveto Maggiore which I will not miss this time). The scenery along the way was amazing and a big part of what I was looking for on my trip. I expect to split two weeks between Siena and Fonte Bertusi this time. I've decided not to stay in Montisi but will visit and see just what is there. My initial impressions of it may have dampened a bit but I like these small, more quiet towns/villages and found one last time I especially liked - Monticchiello. After walking around the town and having it almost to myself, I sat in Osteria La Porta near the entrance gate and enjoyed a drink and the amazing vistas.
    There were some new homes built just outside of Monticchiello - would be nice to buy one and do the Under the Tuscan Sun thing from there.

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    I always take a walk through Montisi and I think it is worth a visit. There is a Main Street that is just okay. You will need to walk up behind the Main Street to discover the charm of the village. i think you will enjoy it.

    Castelmuzio has a nice local product outdoor market in Saturday mornings in the fall. It is a great place to pick up local olive oil. I never noticed the market happening in May, but I may have just missed it then.

    I forgot to mention my favorite walk in the area-

    If you are staying at Fonte Bertusi, turn right toward San Quirico d'Orcia and drive about 1 km until you see a sign on the left for farmhouse called Cretaiole and turn left. The driveway for Cretaiole will be on the left and on the right you will see a large stack of hay bales. Park there and begin your walk on the road. I like to do this walk right before sunrise. The landscape in all directions is spectacular and there is sometimes moving ground fog in the valleys that creates an even more spectacular view. You will also be able to enjoy the sun rising behind Pienza. Be sure to bring your camera. The road goes all the way to San Quirico but I usually run this road in the mornings and go about 2 miles and turn around.
    Also, about 1 km into the walk you will see a tractor road on your right with a gate. Walk around the gate (it's okay to walk around- the gate is to keep cars out) and head down that road about another km until you reach the backside of The Chapel of our Lady of Vitaleta.

    May is my favorite time to visit the area. Have fun!

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