The area called the “Crete Senesi” stretches south from Siena to Montalcino and Sant Antimo Abbey, encompassing suggestive, unforgettable landscapes. The Crete is characterized by bare clay hillocks, described as “a lunar landscape” by author Iris Origo of La Foce.
This area is yet another one of the most photographed in all of Italy, both for the uniqueness of the landscape and for the presence of historical and architectural buildings. In summer months, you will find vast sunflower fields and in the spring there are bright green wheat fields scattered with red poppies. Vineyards dominate the landscape around Montalcino, famous for the excellent Brunello di Montalcino wine.
Everywhere you find medieval villages, farms, churches and fortified castles, which represent the history and the architecture of man.
The bare clay, lunar landscape of the Crete Senesi has a magnetic fascination. The primary characteristic of this area is the earth’s grey color which features different shades and reflections according to the time of the day and the season. It is a vast area which features little vegetation and deeply eroded gullies, which look as if they were carved by a cosmic sculptor.
The landscape is among the most fascinating of Italy, sweet and suggestive, embellished with buildings by man who has always loved, protected, and enhanced it with sober architecture harmonically set in the natural scenery.
In the Crete Senesi you will find the precious white truffle, as well as the black truffle. The best truffle market is located in San Giovanni d’Asso. The delicious artichoke of Chiusure grows thanks to the unique microclimate of the area particularly suited for this plant. Do not miss the honey produced in Montalcino, where its fields offer a vast selection of fragrant flowers and aromatic essences. In addition to the world-famous Brunello di Montalcino wine, be sure to try the excellent grappa produced with the Brunello grapes.
In the heart of the Crete Senesi is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Italy—the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore. This 12th-century monastery, belonging to the Benedictine order, is the home of many beautiful and extraordinary frescoes painted by Luca Signorelli and Antonio Bazzi – called “Sodoma” (1505). Stop by their gift shop to purchase the special items grown and produced on-site by the monks, such as wine, liqueurs, and olive oil.