The Castle of Vivo d'Orcia lies in the widespread Orcia valley in southern Tuscany, 60 km south-east of Siena, near to Arezzo, Perugia, Orvieto and Assisi and such cultural jewels as Pienza, Montalcino and Montepulciano, to name but a few. The hamlet lies at an altitude of 900 m above sea level. The particular combination of altitude and Mediteranean climate creates an unusual whealth of flora and fauna. Many wild animals such as deer, wild boar and foxes as well as the most deliscious truffles call the Monte Amiata their home. The castle boasts a long and fascinating history. It has been in the same family since 1534 and since then the prope...rty has not changed hands. Up till today the owner spends most of the summer months in residence in the Castello del Vivo.
In the past the hamlet housed the peasants and their families. Today the hamlet is let to friends of the property owner from Florence and Rome, who come down for the week-end. There are three houses available for travellers: Ambassador offered here, Casa del Contadino and Casa di Piero (also featured in our portfolio). Century old chestnut trees cast their shade in the gardens of the houses, ideal for al fresco meals outdoors. A pool is conjointly used.
About the location and history
The village: Vivo d'Orcia is a 10 minute walk from the house. A quiet village which furnishes basic requirements - small supermarket, bank, pharmacy, post office, news agent and your bar for delicious cappuccinos. About 15 km in various directions you'll find other charming alternatives for daily shopping and stopovers at a bar, some also have foreign newspapers (list in the house).
Food and wine: Varying seasons bring varying menus. The quality of the produce is what one identifies with cuisine in Tuscany: fresh vegetables, crisp salads, aromatic tomatoes, porcini (wild mushrooms), tartufi (truffles), home-made pasta or polenta, tortelli filled with spinach and ricotta, wild boar stew, grilled meats and venison, wild strawberries, raspberries, chestnuts, and many delicate herbs which join together to produce the exquisite meals you will enjoy, enhanced by the superb red wines from nearby Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. We have compiled a list of restaurants we can recommend in the immediate neighbourhood (list in the house).
History: The Castle of Vivo d'Orcia boasts a long and fascinating history. In 1002 a hermitage was founded on this spot by camaldolese monks close to the source of the Vivo river - which means alive - a vital site as it also supplies the city of Siena with water. The monastery and the surrounding land were sold in 1534 to the later Pope Marcello II, who adapted the Castello del Vivo with the help of the famous renaissance architect Antonio da Sangallo, renowned for the palazzi he built in Siena and Rome. Since then the property has been in the family.
Next to the castle there is an arched stone doorway leading down to the hamlet which in the past housed the peasants and their families. An agricultural estate like this once used to be completely self-sufficient and provided itself not only with food and drink, but also had ist own carpenters, potters, weavers, metal forgers and glazers on the premises. In fact, hidden in the woods below the nearby Casa del Contadino you will find ruins of what used to be the mill and the forgery in the 18th century. The small romanesque church of S. Marcello near Casa di Piero deserves a notice. The familiy chapel, also romanesque, stands in the woods nearby.
Sight-seeing: Pienza, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Sant'Antimo, Monte Oliveto Maggiore and San Quirico are precious stones set in Tuscany and rate top of the sight-seeing list. The seaside near Grosseto is an hour in the car. Florence and Rome are a comfortable two hours by car. Arezzo, Orvieto, Perugia and Assisi and so many others are day-trip distance. Famous private gardens are open to the public once a week and are well worth a visit (list in the house).
The hot springs: Tuscany is famous for its hot springs, the most spectacular beeing Saturnia at an hours drive. Close to Vivo are Bagno Vignoni (remember Nostalgia by Tarkowski?) and Bagno San Filippo where in the midle of the woods the warm water has carved natural pools into the rock.
Nature: If you spend your holiday here you might also want to explore the unusual wealth of flora and fauna which is to be found here due to a combination of altitude and Mediterranean climate. The woods around the houses with streams and dappled sunlight offer wonderful treks. In spring and summer an abundance of wild flowers and herbs can be found, and many wild animals including foxes, deer and wild boar make the Monte Amiata their home.Read more
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