Val di Merse
The Val di Merse is a road designed by Mother Nature whose fame is not attached to the myth of a name.
On planet Tuscany, perfumed by wine, coloured by an enchanting landscape, ennobled by piazzas and towers, villas and castles, we find the Terre di Siena. And each land is a powerful icon, a microcosm of people, histories and atmospheres that contribute to the creation of an outstanding identity. Val di Merse is one of these icons that stamps a visible sign on the background of the Palio City.
What we are preparing to experience is a journey free from all conditioning. The Val di Merse is a road designed by Mother Nature whose fame is not attached to the myth of a name.
In the world of communications where everything must have a label and where you travel following legendary and sometimes inconsistent goals, this land of Siena likes to introduce itself without a visiting card. It prefers a firm handshake and a glance that immediately inspire trust. It would be like expecting a formal presentation from someone who wants to say how fine he is inside!
The essence of a place, as of a person, is a discovery that comes about discreetly and silently. It’s a question of feeling; sometimes it happens in a flash, on other occasions you need more time.
The Val di Merse has a reserved character and travellers fall in love with it because it knows how to be at once shadowy and sunny. Its intimate purity and the intact solitude in which it lives are highly intriguing and are an exclusive invitation to the traveller who is motivated by discreet curiosity.
Nobody will be disappointed, because Val di Merse is beautiful inside. And not only: because its external appearance too shines with its own light: suffused and delicate in its woods, brilliant in the cathedral that screams silently skywards.
Discover Val di Merse
The original nucleus of the monastic complex Cistercian of Saint Galgano (Galgano Guidotti 1148-1181) is constituted by the hermitage of Montesiepi, built in Roman style as mausoleum of the Saint between the 1182 and the 1185. Its greater particularity is the so-called 'the Rotunda of Saint Galgano' with a unique, for the constructions of that time, plan. It encloses, beyond to the tomb of the saint, the famous rock with the sword.
Poggio Civitate's Antiquarium
The Etruscan Museum is in the mediaeval village of Murlo and features important finds from the Poggio Civitatearea. Discovery of this place contributed in a determining way to a turning point in research into and study of Etruscan civilisation: the excavations brought to light not a village or a burial ground but an aristocratic palazzo (7th century BC) and a craftsman’s workshop.
The buildings underwent two constructional phases, orientalizing and archaic, datable between the 7th and 6th century BC. Architectonic elements such as tiles and acroteria demonstrate that the orientalizing building (older than the archaic) featured a complete system of roof covering. The craft workshop bears witness to the fact that architectonic ceramics were produced here as well as pots and precious objects. Around 600 BC both structures were destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 580 BC. The residence was entirely rebuilt to a quadrangular plan and had a large internal courtyard with arcades.
The finds include a collection of pottery, some of it from Greece: fragments of plates, amphorae, jugs, Ionic and Laconian cups and refined bucchero. There are also ivory sculptures. Outstanding among the architectural decorations are human and animal figure acroteria. Excavation of the archaic complex led to the discovery of metal objects such as personal and domestic ornaments in bronze and iron utensils.
The exhibition is completed with funerary objects from the tombs of Poggio Aguzzo (650 - 600 BC) including, notably, particularly refined pottery and precious bucchero.
Seeing Val di Merse on horseback
Seeing Val di Merse on horseback means living a precious experience, it means abandoning our usual rhythms and stepping into the wide times and spaces of the past. You ride through the territories of dreams.
It means riding through hills where the great Emperor Frederick II of Swabia’s famous mounted falconers scrutinised the sky in search of the heron and the mallard which still populate this sky today, together with other species such as the kite and the harrier.
On horseback you come across abandoned castles in forgotten loops of time, with evocative names like “Castle that Only God Knows “;or towers tenaciously clinging to crags and ridges; or hermitages secluded in the silent jewel-case of the wood and suddenly coming into view, the kingdom of nocturnal animals and legends of which we are absolute lords for the brief period of our passage. And then the mediaeval villages of the valleys, such as Brenna , Torri , Lestine, where the sound of hoofs on the cobbles echoes through streets now broad now narrow and solitary, and the pink painted walls of Lorraine-style farms such as Montestigliano Montestigliano. To escape our everyday time and rediscover the time of Man, all you need to do is ride along the rivers Farma and Merse or through the woods of the Montagnola.