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Chuck4u Apr 4th, 2011 12:29 PM

Val d'Orcia Route: Montepulciano to Pienza or via Monticchiello?
Starting from Montepulciano, we plan on visiting Pienza, Monticchiello & La Foce before venturing further through Val d'Orcia. Should we...

1) Take SS146 from Montepulciano to Pienza & then take Strada Comunale Pienza-Monticchiello to Monticchiello/La Foce via OR

2) Take Via di San Bartolomeo just outside Bivio di San Bigio to Strada Comunale Pienza-Monticchiello to Monticchiello/La Foce before going to Pienza

Which is the more scenic route (we're not as interested in which is the fastest route)?

We'll start from Montepulciano early/mid-morning & will eventually go on to San Quirico, Montalcino & other sites in Val d'Orcia after visiting La Foce, Monticchiello, & Pienza.

Thanks very much!

kybourbon Apr 4th, 2011 01:39 PM

There is an itinerary on this thread that might meet most of your list.

tedgale Apr 4th, 2011 01:39 PM

If you can find Route #2 you're a better navigator than I was, using a detailed map.

(BTW: This was not our first time in Montepulciano but our 3rd week long stay in the last 5 years.)

Last October, we went back and forth around S Biagio trying to find that back road to Montichiello. We finally gave it up.

All three places you mention are extremely close and are connected by a network of small and often unnumbered roads.

We ended up taking the Montepulciano-Pienza road, then veering off onto a "white" road when we spotted Montichiello in the distance. Took us past a great farm with hilariously dumb penned goats, right beside the road. And some other cool stuff.

From Monitchiello, we just followed their road signs to continue to Pienza.

Chuck4u Apr 4th, 2011 01:52 PM

Thanks kybourbon & tedgale. I had seen Stu Dudley's trip report before & glad you reminded me of it kybourbon. And, tedgale, I hear ya... the route I'm most likely to have success with is going to Pienza first & then out to Monticchiello (I'll keep my eyes peeled for a town in the distance!). Otherwise, I may be out there forever looking for that little road. (From what I hear, not a bad place to spend time!) Thanks again!

bobthenavigator Apr 4th, 2011 02:22 PM

It will be easier from Pienza, but I will be hoping to discover the other route during our stay in May. We do plan lunch at La Porta before the 3:00 garden tour at La Foce.

zoecat Apr 4th, 2011 02:30 PM

I've created a map highlighting some of my favorite drives in the area. The Montepulciano to Monticchiello route is indicated on the map. Zoom in for more detail. The road starts out paved and then becomes dirt and very rugged. Make sure you have No Excess with your car insurance!,0.614548&z=11

zoecat Apr 4th, 2011 02:36 PM

I forgot to mention that there are two routes on my map. Both are beautiful drives, but the one you are asking about is the more rugged of the two.

tedgale Apr 4th, 2011 06:12 PM

Bob: From my notes I see that the last tour (4 PM?) may be preferable to the 3 PM, if that works for you.

There was a big 3 PM crowd exiting when we went in October, yet less than half that number for the 4 PM tour.

tedgale Apr 4th, 2011 06:14 PM

Zoecat: That is so cool. I've never seen that done before. I'm quite sure I (a Luddite) could never create a route map like that -- though I'd love to!

Sher Apr 5th, 2011 12:27 AM

Bob. Please write your impression of La Porta. We will be in a villa for two weeks near Monticcheillo in August.

uflecku Apr 5th, 2011 05:42 AM

Sher, My wife and I have vacationed in the Val d'Orcia several times over the last few years and eaten at many excellent restaurants. We had lunch at La Porta for the first time last May and it was fantastic. The food is top notch, authentic, and served perfectly. The wine list is also very good and well priced. The view from the patio is everything you've heard about and more, but don't be disappointed if for some reason you end up inside either. The room is filled with an upscale yet rugged Tuscan countryside charm. After a long drive from the Ligurian Coast with our then 15 month old we opted for a corner spot inside as the patio was full and we didn't want to wait. No regrets at all. Montichiello itself is small and pleasent enough, though there isn't too much to see. Walk up to the top for some odd outdoor art/sculptures. La Porta is worth the visit by itself, and with so many other great towns within 30 minutes it's easy to get to.

Sher Apr 5th, 2011 08:11 AM

Hi uflecku. I am really glad we will be spending a couple of weeks in this area as my previous experience was only a very long day trip some years ago while staying in Castellina.
I will have a car for the time and plan to do many drives that have been suggested here.
La Porta gets good reviews from all that I have read. We are staying in a villa that will provide any meal that we want but i do not want to spend all of my time having meals there as excellent as they may be.
Are there any other restaurants in the vicinity that you remember and would revisit. Just three or four.
I intend to stay mostly in this area and maybe into some of Umbria which I have never visited. The two days before the rental will be spent in Orvieto.
It seems this vacation is never getting here and then before I know it will be gone!

uflecku Apr 5th, 2011 01:53 PM

Happy to make some suggestions. In addition to La Porta (again, worth the trip by itself) I would seek out following places.

Montefollonico - Ristorante 13 Gobbi - Via Lando di Duccio 5 - Nice outdoor seating on a covered patio. Great food. Reviews available in many places.

Montepulciano - Osteria dell’Acquacheta – Via del Teatro 22 - Yes, it can be filled with tourists, but with good reason. Trust me when I say locals eat here in mass also, just in the slower seasons. Deservedly known for its Bistecca Fiorentina (quality and unique presentation), don't overlook the pastas. Kind of communal seating, crowded and loud in a cave like setting. It gets packed so either go early (but this is Italy, who wants to eat at 7:00) or make a reservation. I've had at least one meal here in all our trips to Tuscany.

Montepulciano - Osteria del Conte - Via di San Donato,19 - Have been here a couple of times, including once while dining with the owner of our villa - and she is a regular - which says something. Great food, really nice people. Very family-oriented type of place.

Pienza - Ristorante Del Falco - D.Alighieri 3 - I'm going to go off track here a bit, as this is not one of the typically suggested or reviewed restaurants in this town full of good restaurants, but if I had one meal left in Tuscany it would be here. Just outside the old city wall this is certainly not a touristy place. The outdoor patio is great, the inside is "homey". The place is popular with locals. One time we had lunch next to a waiter we'd had the previous evening in another town. The food is delish but it's the service, especially Gianni the waiter, that make this place for us. We've spent many afternoons and evenings lingering over a 3 hour meal. Outside we let our daughter explore while finishing off our wine and dessert. We've eaten here every trip to Italy, more than once on occasion. When we were planning our last trip I called them up and asked if my wife could help make the pasta that day. They immediately said yes and we ate her hand rolled pici for lunch (as did many others). I will admit some of the love we have for this place is sentimental, but I'm not a food critic and sentiment and memories are a huge part of my recollection.

There are many more great places to eat, obviously, in all of the towns I mention and others. I'm staying away from recommending places in Chianti, Lucca, Pisa, Firenze, Roma, etc as I think you'll be staying in the Val d'Orcia (plus I could do this all day and need to get some work done). If interested there is a great farm where they make their own pecorino cheese maybe 2 kilometers outside of Montepulciano on the main road leading to Pienza ( No English is spoken, but pointing works.

One place that may be too far for you but I can't help but suggest is Antinca Trattoria La Foce waaaay up in the hills above Castiglion Fiorentina, just north of Cortona. Not easy to find but worth it, this is all locals all the time. As real and authentic as you can get. The family works the place, the family eats here (often right next to you). You really feel like you're at someone's house. Late dinner crowd. They also do live music/Karaoke some nights in a big front room/patio area. The food is as good as it gets and you feel 100% like a local.

Don't dismiss Cortona either. Sure it can be a victim of it's own popularity, with tour busses taking up the parking lots at the bottom of town. But get off the beaten path a bit, stray further up the hill than most (and really, you don't have to go far to do this), and you can see a beautiful, authentic Tuscan hill town.

Lastly, you mention Umbria. I think Umbria is vastly underrated and hope to go back myself soon (been there once). The food is just as wonderful as Tuscany and the towns (Bevagna, Montefalco, Gubbio, Spoleto, Orvieto, etc) just as charming. Perugia is worth a trip if you need a break from quant little towns.

Hope this helps….and have a great time.

Sher Apr 5th, 2011 08:13 PM

eflecku. This is just what I am looking for. And I thank you very much.

Chuck4u Apr 6th, 2011 08:56 AM

Thanks everyone! (The little exchange between Sher & uflecku was good too-- I picked up some restaurant recommendations!)

Another question... We may be coming up from Orvieto to drive through Val d'Orcia. Would we enjoy a BETTER scenic drive starting in Montepulciano (& then on to Pienza, Monticchiello, La Foce & backtrack through Pienza to San Quirico, Montalcino & then to Siena) or should we come up the back way via SS2 & SR2 (through Castiglione d'Orcia, Bagno Vignoni then on to Pienza, Monticchiello, La Foce backtrack through Pienza to San Quirico, Montalcino & then to Siena)? That is, is the road from Montepulciano to Pienza MORE scenic than the drive coming up from Castiglione d'Orcia? BTW, while there have been many suggestions to take in Castigilione d'Orcia & Bagno Vignoni-- they are not on our very full day trip through this region... so seeing these towns is not a priority & we don't want to short-change our visits to Pienza, etc. The only reason to take this slower route would be if it's more scenic than the portion from Montepulciano to Pienza-- the scenery is what is most important to us. Also, if anyone has insights on whether the route up through Castiglione d'Orcia via SS2 & [email protected] is easy to find & navigate would be great! Thanks!

bobthenavigator Apr 6th, 2011 12:05 PM

The former---hard to go wrong.

smrt2 Apr 6th, 2011 12:26 PM


JillDavis Apr 6th, 2011 12:36 PM


Chuck4u Apr 6th, 2011 12:43 PM

What does this 'bookmarking' mean? Thanks, Bob!

zoecat Apr 6th, 2011 02:30 PM

<<What does this 'bookmarking' mean?>>

People will reply to a post, "bookmarking" so that they can go back to the post at another time by just clicking on their name instead of trying to find the post.

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