A bittersweet landscape: Siena’s “Crete Senesi”

The city of Siena is offers tons of interesting opportunities. Art and history, and a proud heritage, are literally in the streets – sometimes under the streets as well!

But the area of Tuscany around Siena is also a beautiful succession of amazing landscapes, sometimes with unique colours. That is the case of the Crete Senesi.

Crete means clay – “clays”, literally – and it spans over the territories of some of the municipalities – the comuni – of the Siena province, such as Asciano, Buonconvento, Monteroni d’Arbia, Rapolano Terme and San Giovanni d’Asso.

The Crete Senesi terroir is a consecution of gentle hills, the grey colour of which coming from the “mattaione” clay of the soil (the word mattaione is possibly related to “malta”, Italian and Latin for cement, or to the Celtic word “maeth”, meaning countryside).

Crete Senesi : fly me to the moon, land in a desert…

The Crete Senesi landscape is often defined as “lunar”, for its colours and for its bleak look – the mattaione being a very infertile soil.

Inside the Crete Senesi a specific area has its own incredible micro-ecosystem: the “deserto di Accona” is the only… desert that you can visit in Tuscany, for sure!

Relax in the Crete Senesi

Another quirk of the area is the being a “post – volcanic” area with mild thermal activity, activity that you can enjoy at the Monteriggioni or Rapolano spa.

Crete Senesi history and food

As usual in Italy and Tuscany, the Crete landscapes is dotted with ancient abbeys and monasteries: the jewel of the crown here is the Monte Oliveto Maggiore Abbey.

Meanwhile, maybe the Crete soil can be infertile, but the great wine areas of Montalcino and Chianti are not far, sheep farming gives amazing pecorino cheese and the terroir is (relatively…) rich of white truffles, “the diamond of the kitchen”.

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