Montalcino is a medieval town in Tuscany, that has recently gained popularity thanks to the famous red wine Brunello. This is one of the best areas in the world for wine, as famous as Champagne, Bordeaux and Barolo, although, compared to the others, Brunello’s history is relatively recent. The production started only one hundred years ago by the Biondi Santi family.
This area is extremely good for grapes and extra virgin olive oil. Besides Brunello di Montalcino, in 1996, a new label was founded by the Tuscan authority “Sant’Antimo DOC”. They wanted to promote this area further and give a new dignity to local wines other than Brunello. Unfortunately, this label has not received enough attention by Italian and international buyers; but if you just open your mind, and pour yourself a glass, I am sure you will love it as much as I do.
Enjoy the drive from Montalcino heading southeast to see the Amiata mountain, the highest one in this part of Tuscany. It was originally a volcano and its presence is the main reason for the many sulfurous springs in the Orcia Valley. If you carry on driving on this road, you will pass in front of the Biondi Santi winery to reach, in less than 10 minutes, a nice valley in front of Castelnuovo dell’Abate village. This valley has sweet green hills covered by vineyards and the oldest olive trees in the area, but the best attraction is the wonderful Sant’Antimo Abby.
Abbazia di Sant’Antimo VIII secolo
This building is a great example of romanic architecture and it has been built on the top of an existing reliquary still located at the bottom of the altar. Here is where Saint Antimo was buried and his relics preserved for centuries. The church was rebuilt later in the XII century to the current size and it is now a precious gem of history and art, absolutely worth seeing.
A funny detail: a local legend states it was built by order of Charles the Great, when he was traveling to Rome to visit the Pope that uncrowned him as Emperor!
Once you get in the church you will be surrounded by a silent sense of sanctity and deep warm sensation of abandonment. The experience will feel like being in an ancient spiritual place, with archaic symbols, some representing animals from a pagan world no longer allowed in a Christian church.
At the end of this journey you must not miss the chance to get to the top of the hill on the other side of the valley, there, an amazing view of the Amiata mountain will be waiting for you.
Tour leader who has worked for years as a private driver at the most important agency in San Gimignano. Graduated in philosophy and passionate about local history, he deals with consulting and communication for the organization of the tourism sector of this company.
Cell. (+39) 320 645 2551