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Val D\'Orcia

27 Which view reaches the farthest? From the Rocca a Tentennano you can discern Siena’s Torre del Mangia, while from the tower at Radicòfani you may admire Lake Bolsena and Lake Trasimeno. Peeking out between the merlons overlooking Montalcino, the hills of Maremma seem to roll out straight to the sea. Val d’Orcia’s strategic position lies at the heart of its multitude of imposing fortifications. Here passed the border between Aldobrandesco territory in Grosseto and the Sienese republic. Later the border divided Tuscany under the Medici from Umbria and Tuscia under Papal dominion. The importance of commerce and travel along the Francigena road explains the power wielded by Radicòfani and its baron Ghino di Tacco, mentioned both by Boccaccio and by Dante. Restored during the 1990s, the fortress in Radicofani was originally built before the year 1000 and was enlarged during the 1500s with the addition of the massive San Rocco, San Giovanni and San Pietro bastions. The surrounding pine woods sweetens the view of the fortress from afar. Nothing could sweeten the appearance of the stern Rocca a Tentennano that overlooks Castiglione and Rocca d’Orcia, Bagno Vignoni and the ravine carved out by the river over the millennia. Here too the original structure dates to before the year 1000. This castle served as one of the outermost possessions of Siena in its ongoing conflict with Florence, which ended in 1559 with Siena’s defeat by its more powerful neighbor. St. Catherine of Siena lived for several years in the nearby hamlet of Rocca d’Orcia and from here would write her letters to the world’s potentates. The Rocca’s uppermost terrace offers a vast panorama overlooking dozens of smaller fortifications. Little remains, for example, of the castle of Corsignano where Enea Silvio Piccolomini decided to build his “ideal city” of Pienza. Monticchiello, the eastern outpost of the valley, still proudly displays its city walls complete with gates, towers and fortress. The twelf-century Rocca in Montalcino remains an unmissable stop for visitors to the area, with the stunning view from its high walls captivating even the most nonchalant, especially at sunset. Castles and Fortresses Radicofani VALDORCIA_INT_ING 30-07-2009 18:48 Pagina 27

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