Val d’ Orcia is a paradise for travelers and landscape photographers
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Val d’Orcia is a stunning landscape. This is a valley that lies in between three towns: Pienza, San Quirico d’Orcia, and Montalcino.
Talking about the best in Tuscany, it is impossible to miss Val d’Orcia, the heart of this province of Italy, it is the most important part.
The word “Val” in Italian means “valley”, while “Orcia” is the name of the river that flows through it.
It is here that you can see the incredible landscapes of the famous Tuscan hills and fields, it is here that a huge number of feature films were filmed.
Here you can see how legendary Tuscan wines are made and of course, you should arrange unforgettable tastings.
It is because of the Val d’Orcia that you need to drive by yourself. There are a lot of places that cannot be reached by public transport, and walking is also extremely difficult because of the very serious distances.
It makes no sense to come to the valley for one day. You should spend more time here, stay for a couple or three nights. Meet the sunrises and watch the sunsets explore all the most interesting places in the region.
PRO Tip: If the time of your visit is limited to one day and you don’t want to drive yourself, or you want to take part in wine tastings in wineries, the best way to do so is to use the services of a local guide. From Siena, there are many one-day excursions with professional guides.
In this article, I will talk about the best beautiful places in Tuscany where you should definitely visit during a trip to Val d’Orcia.
There are more desert landscapes in this area of Tuscany. I liked the green rolling hills.
They resemble in some way the photo “Serenity”, which for many years settled as a desktop of Windows XP operating system on the screens of millions of users.
Val d’Orcia map
Look at this Google map I created to help you plan your trip to Val d’Orcia. This is an interactive map with many layers that you can turn on or off as you want. The map is constantly updated with new information. Subscribe to my website or save this map to use while traveling.
Best things to do in Val d’Orcia for landscape photographers
Even the most indifferent person to the photo being in Val d’Orcia will not be able to refrain from taking the camera, even if it is a smartphone. Below I will list the most beautiful photo spots that you can’t pass by.
Pienza, a tiny medieval town surrounded by green hilly fields. The town is located 9 km after San Quirico d’Orcia. You should turn left from the Siena motorway at the entrance to San Quirico.
San Quirico d’Orcia
San Quirico d’Orcia, a town that you will find 35 km from Siena. The city is known for standing on the road of the Franciscan pilgrims.
Montepulciano is located in the Val di Chiana but this is too stunning to not include in your itinerary for a drive through the Val d’ Orcia!
Montepulciano is one of the loveliest hill towns in Tuscany with its narrow uphill streets and beautiful palaces.
The Cypresses of San Quirico d’Orcia
Near San Quirico d’Orcia, right next to the road, a cypress circle is planted. This is the most famous cypress trees in Tuscany.
It literally looks like an island in the middle of a field. By the way, here, in the middle of a ploughed field, you can often find a lone tree or a picturesque splash.
Local farmers carefully take care of such enclosures on their property and cultivate the land extremely carefully so as not to damage the unique natural painting.
These are the landscapes where tourists and travelers from all over the world come to Tuscany.
The cypress grove is protected by the state, as evidenced by a sign among the trees and a stretched metal mesh.
You can park your car at the side of the road and then walk straight through the fields. Grass can be wet and it’s better to wear hiking boots.
Podere Poggio Covili
And the scenery with cypress trees near Poggio Covili is a classic view and can be seen in almost any Tuscan guide.
The road leading to the farm on both sides is framed by a high cypress alley.
You can’t drive up to the manor itself, and the driveway is closed. But great pictures come from the road. The car can also be parked at the side of the road near the farm entrance.
But few people know that there’s still a photo spot where these cypresses look stunning.
This is road 323 del Monte Amiata.
You can’t park here, just slow down or stop on the road itself, there are not many cars here and open a window.
The cypress alley is far away, so use a telephoto lens to get great shots.
“My house stands among the hills above Trujillo. He’s very humble.
The stones are basking in the sun…
It’s got the smell of spicy herbs in it… and jasmine in the evening.
You can see the poplar through the gate… Big apple trees, pears…” Gladiator.
Despite the fact that the protagonist of the movie
Gladiator Maximus claimed that his house is in Trujillo, in the movie was filmed exactly Tuscany. Otherwise, everything looks like it, and even jasmine blooms.
Maximus’ house can be photographed through the fence grate, but the best solution is to bypass it on the right and get through the hole in the fence.
The dog that is notified by the gate sign was not, or maybe we were just lucky.
A few minutes will be enough for a great picture.
The classic look of the Podere Belvedere farm is considered by many to be the best landscape in Tuscany.
The most magnificent views are from the local plots, but now they are all closed to the public. Private area signs with a sheepdog badge are designed to scare away unwelcome tourists.
So it is possible to go to the point for a photoshoot if you rent a house from local farmers or if the local owners are too busy with their business and do not pay any attention to you.
But you can pull off the main road, go down a little bit, leave the car and go to another shooting point.
It’s not canonical from here, but it’s also pretty good.
It is especially good at sunrise before the sun rises over the hills and the valley is covered with mist.
Capella della Madonna di Vitaleta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If Val d’Orcia is the heart of the province, the Cappella Vitaleta is the quintessence of all the best in Tuscany.
The horizon line going away, ascetic cypress, and a classic small chapel right in the middle of the hills.
It’s simple, quiet, and incredibly beautiful.
The Cappella Vitaleta is a tourist attraction, almost everyone who travels in Tuscany comes here.
But this is the variant when despite the popularity of this place; there is no way to miss it. Very beautiful!
In the evening before sunset, there are practically no people near the chapel. And early in the morning, except for a few fan photographers, there’s no one here.
The chapel is on one of the hills and can be seen from several sides. Classic is the view from the road.
You can get out of the car when parking on the side of the road and take a photo of the Chapel.
Usually, a few cars are parked here, but in high season all the space may not be enough. But it’s no trouble, the road is long and the car can be parked a little further or a little closer.
The best time of day to photography The Cappella Vitaleta from this point is earlier morning. It’s best to take the telephoto lens to the Сhapel very far.
You can also walk down the dirt road on foot. This is an alternative photo spot for Capella Vitaleta. The view is very similar to the classic, but the Cappella is a little closer. It’s better to be here in the morning, too.
A very great temptation to go forward, to climb a hill right to the chapel. Especially since the maps directly indicate the path that exists here.
But I couldn’t find her. We got to the chapel in another way, which I’ll tell you a little bit about below.
There’s another view of the chapel. The only way to get here (43.0689, 11.6224) is if you live on La Buca di Bellugi farm because the road to it runs through the farm.
Here you can both meet the sunrise and spend the day at sunset. But Cappella Vitaleta is very far away and telephoto lens you just need.
In addition to the chapel, you can walk around the surrounding hills to admire the stunning scenery, see deer grazing in the meadows.
Such a walk is best planned in the early morning, at this time in the valley of Val d’Orcia especially magical.
But if you want to get directly to the chapel itself, you will have to make a small hook on the road and drive off the road at the sign.
Then move on the primer to the fork. To the left is the Vitaleta pointer, but you don’t need to go there. Leave your car at the site next to the barrier and continue on foot in the right lane. In five minutes, you’ll be there.
Vitaleta’s best time is sunsets and sunrises. Personally, I liked to see the first rays of the sun here the most. For someone with a passion for photography, it’s the best time of day in Tuscany.
After dawn, you can take a walk around the chapel. The views are great! Freshly cut grass, lonely trees, minimalist landscapes.
Exit Pienza, go down a bit lower on a perpendicular dirt road and turn left. Follow the road down a slope. After a while, you will have a stunningly beautiful view.
It’s a view of the road from the movie “Gladiator.” Here the legendary Maximus walked before his death, here his wife and son waved at him.
Although the classic cinematic view opens up from a point to the right, the view directly from the road itself impressed me even more.
From my point of view, this landscape is one of the best in Tuscany. This landscape decorates the cover of my landscape photography book.
I took pictures in this area in the morning after sunrise and the pictures were great. Although I think it’s gonna be even prettier here by sunset.
Few people know about this place, so you’ll probably be proud to be alone here.
Podere Baccoleno is not located in the valley but is a must-visit. Especially since it’s only an hour from San Quirico d’ Orcia.
There were no tourists in this place at all. And judging by how dashingly cars and tourist buses passed by our car, many do not even know about the existence of this photo spot.
Nothing can be seen from the road, just the exit on the right side of the Podere Baccoleno. From the road nothing can be seen, just the exit on the right side of the farmhouse Podere Baccoleno and the locked gate where the road rests.
You need to park your car in a small area near the gate and walk around it yourself on the left footpath. After walking about fifty meters, you will open a wonderful estate and zigzag roads with cypress alley along with it.
San Quirico d’Orcia to Pienza 9.8km Driving Time: About 15 minutes
Pienza to Montepulciano 14.3km Driving Time: About 25 minutes
Siena, take SS73 to Montepulciano 60.8km Driving Time: About 60 minutes
Florence Montepulciano 130km Driving Time 1h30 minutes
Where to stay in Val d’Orcia
Something Excellent in the valley
I thought for a long time what could be special for Tuscany. Of course outdoor swimming pools with panoramic views of the Tuscan countryside. Two gorgeous hotels with huge outdoor and indoor pools in legendary Bagno Vignoni
Check Val d’Orcia hotels map
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