THE REGION

Nestled between the Val d’Orcia and the Maremma, the Mount Amiata is a dormant volcano of 1.735 m high which houses the largest beech forest of Italy. Thermal springs bubble forth from the heart of this ancient volcano, worshipped by the Etruscans as Mount Olympus. This green patrimony of biodiversity is the kingdom of chestnuts and mushrooms.

Our trip is based in a charming farmhouse in the nature reserve Pigelleto. Completely isolated from the world, this unspoiled area breathes a sense of respect and serenity. A holistic space, panoramic platform and sheltered wood oven belong to the property. The salubrious air and breathtaking silence calms the mind.

After stimulating morning exercises for body and mind, we will explore this magic landscape mainly by foot, alternating between shady forests, sculpture gardens and ancient villages where people live at their own pace. Fully immersed in the therapeutic benefits of this volcanic region we will slowly discover its historical treasures, genuine hospitality and traditional dishes like chestnut polenta, pici pasta and gluten free cake known as il castagnaccio.

Thousands of years ago, the eruptions of a huge volcano inundated the hills with lava. Once condensed and stratified into the ground, it became a porous substance called tufo or tuff stone which marked the civilization of the Etruscans. They cut into the volcanic tufa rock to create pathways -vie cave- which are usually found near burial areas.

 

MY STORY

During a summer trip in 2007, the leafy green roof of the Amiata mountain left a lasting impression on me. When Florentine friends enthused me about La Maremma, I was convinced to further explore this less known region. One of the key persons I met during my expedition, was Renato. He is the housekeeper of Il Roccone, the residence where we will be staying. With chestnut flour he makes pasta, brews beer and even created a new facial cream. Renato embodies the symbiotic relationship between nature, landscape and the accomplishments of man.

On a beautiful spring evening, he showed me the desolated mining village of Siele. This hidden place in the Pigelleto reserve used to be one of the most important cinnabar mines of the Amiata area. Instead of visiting The Mercury Mines Museum in Santa Fiora, we will take you to this closed miner’s housing colony where the furnaces, labourers’ cottages and director’s villa are abandoned in the woods. With a bit of luck, a local minor will tell us about his sacrifices and the strikes he participated in.

Together with Maria, another local from Piancastagnaio, I explored the wild thermal springs of Bagni San Filippo at night. It was pitch dark, but with a torch we were able to find our way to the special limestone formations and famous waterfall which resembles to the mouth of a whale called la balena bianca. Due to an almighty concert of croaking frogs, we waived a complete immersion but enjoyed paddling in the steaming hot sulphurous waters.

 

OUR ITINERARY

  • a forest therapy walk and open air lunch in the Pigelleto reserve

  • a scenic walk across the Etruscan tuff area and medieval urban roads from Pitigliano to Sovana with sunset dinner on the inner square of the 12th century Orsini Fortress of Sorano.

  • a panoramic walk on the Mount Labbro which offers a marvellous view on the idyllic Val d’Orcia, the Maremma coast and the islands of the Tuscan archipelago. This hilltop is home to abundant fauna ranging from deers to wolves and eagles to salamanders.

  • a degustation of the creamy ‘olivastra’ extra virgin olive oil at Seggiano where an olive tree which is planted in the roof of a two hundred year old water cistern grows aeroponically, his roots dangling in the condensed air of the cistern

  • a lazy afternoon in the modern sculpture garden of Daniel Spoerri where we will have lunch in Non solo Eat Art run by the Roberto and Marinella, furthermore the inspirers of Il Silene, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the neighbourhood

  • a movie evening watching Le Meraviglie from Alice Rohrwacher that has been shot between Sorano, Sovana, Bagni San Filippo and Lake Bolsena

  • a free afternoon and ‘déjeuner sur l’herbe’ at the park and spring fed fish pond of Santa Fiora

  • a silent walk in the woods followed by restorative bathing in the wild hot wells of Bagni San Filippo

  • a sky gazing evening accompanied by astrophiles from Siena for an -almost- full moon spectacle in the dark nights of Roccone


THE PRICE

1.290€ per person for shared accommodation

1.450€ per person for private accommodation

INCLUDED IN THE PRICE:

  • 7 nights stay in a quiet accommodation in a double or twin room

  • all meals consisting of traditional vegetarian dishes prepared with local seasonal ingredients

  • all restaurant visits and degustations

  • all local transport In Italy, except for airport shuttles

  • multilingual tour guide (English, French, German, Italian, Dutch)

  • bilingual environmental guides associated with AIGAE / Associazione Italiana Guide Ambientali Escursionistische

  • all experiential activities and entrance fees

NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE:

  • liquors

  • flight tickets: please be sure you have received your official confirmation note that the trip has met its minimums before booking your tickets

  • airport transfers: a group shuttle can be arranged upon request

  • travel- and cancellation insurances

A minimum of 6 travellers is requested for the trip to go ahead.

If you wish to learn more about the other group tour in spring 2019, please visit TUSCIA.