The queen of spring
by Carolina Natoli
What comes to mind at the mention of Val d’Orcia is the final scene from “The Gladiator” by Ridley Scott, where Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russel Crowe) crosses the wonderful wheat field to reach the Champs Elysees where his family awaits him. A row of cypress trees, a characteristic of this vast Tuscan area, lines the background of what Roman mythology considered a kind of paradise for those beloved by the gods. The scene was filmed at Terrapille, near Pienza, which with four other municipalities – Castiglione d’Orcia, Montalcino, Radicofani, San Quirico d’Orcia – make up the Natural and Cultural Artistic Park of Val d’Orcia, born to safeguard the natural and artistic wealth of the valley, acknowledged as Unesco World Heritage site in 2004. Man’s presence can be seen, in the countryside and hills, but it does not disturb: it seems that man has tip-toed silently on this scene, discreetly aware of being a guest in this land. Spring is that time of year to truly start enjoying all that Val d’Orcia offers, ready to welcome anyone in any season. But, the explosion of colours and fragrances nature emanates in this period of reawakening triggers unforgettable emotions. All this is intensified when discovering the flavors of Val d’Orcia with its typical products and traditional recipes such as pici con la ‘nana’ (pici with goose sauce) or bread soup along with cuts of meat from the Chianina, the beef cow from which the Florentine steak is cut. And what about the wine? The work carried out by the Consorzio del Vino Orcia consortium has been of great importance. Its aim is to safeguard and enhance the image of the Orcia wine DOC, a young denomination born on 14th February 2000, in the shadow of the production areas of the Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino, promoting local producers with targeted events. Thus, in the name of craftsmanship and the strong bond with its land, the Consortium has set off the project Orcia, il vino più bello del mondo (Orcia, the most beautiful wine in the world). The aim of this project is to organize exemplified scenic itineraries of “cellars with a view”, that is, guided tours to turn tourists visiting the area into connoisseurs and consumers of Orcia wine. Also part of the project is Cantine amiche dei trekkers (Trekker-friendly cellars) offering shelter, water and toilets. Moreover, in 2003, thirteen municipalities included in the Orcia DOC – Buonconvento, Castiglione d’Orcia, Pienza, Radicofani, San Giovanni d’Asso, San Quirico d’Orcia, Trequanda, Abbadia San Salvatore, Chianciano Terme, Montalcino, San Casciano dei Bagni, Sarteano and Torrita di Siena – have set up La Strada del Vino Orcia (The road of Vino Orcia), an association to support the area’s activities: a real and true invitation to explore this land walking among rows of vines, tasting Orcia DOC in the cellars matching each wine glass with Tuscan bruschetta with extra virgin olive oil, salamis and local cheeses. Discover all those eccentric facts linked with the production of the Orcia DOC, the small art towns in a land particularly devoted to the production of fine vintage red wines by staying at charming farmhouse holiday rentals which perfectly blend with the sweet hills of the valley. Landscape and wine are thus joined by an extraordinary harmony between man, nature and history in a land rich with masterpieces, making Orcia the most beautiful wine in the world.