Siena Off The Beaten Path Tips by sue_stone Top 5 Page for this destination
Siena Off The Beaten Path: 63 reviews and 130 photos
Located as close as only 18kms north of Siena is the magical Chianti region of Tuscany. This famous region is home to a large chunk of Tuscany's wine production, and its stunning countryside is easily accessible from Siena as a day trip (particularly if you have a car).
The best way to explore Chianti is to make a start driving along the SS222, stopping at places like Castellina & Greve along the way. Then, time permitting, take a drive along some of the lesser roads and explore villages like Lamole and Montefioralle. Most towns/villages will offer the chance for wine tasting and purchasing at one of their many wine shops.
Make sure you head to some secluded restaurant for lunch, taste some fresh local cuisine and sample a glass or two of Chianti Classico (not too much if you are the driver please!)
Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore
Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore is a 14th century monastery located about 36kms south of Siena. It is located on a hill, about a 15-20 minute drive off the main road. We stopped in on our way from Siena to Montalcino.
The monastery is still a retreat for around 40 monks, and you will see some during your visit. The foundations of the monastery can be traced back to 1313.
The car park is uphill (don't use the revolting toilets there, hold on for the ones down the hill), and it is about a 5 minute walk down a steep hill, to the monastery. The highlight of a visit is the stunning frescoes in the Great Cloister, which illustrate the life of St Benedict.
The Abbey is open to visitors each day from: 09.15 - 12.00 and from 15.15 - 17.00 (18.00 in summer).
Located in Chiusura, about 36kms south of Siena
Phone: 0577 71 85 67
Etruscan gate in Volterra
Volterra is perched high on a sheer, rocky plateau, proudly overlooking the lovely Tuscan landscape below. It is an ancient centre, famous for its Etruscan and Roman past, and filled with museums offering a glimpse of days gone by. The town is also famous for its alabaster, which is mined nearby.
It is located 53km north west of Siena and makes an easy day trip (or half day, combined with a visit to San Gimignano). We really enjoyed our visit to Volterra. It is a lot smaller and less 'touristy' than Siena, and just had a peaceful feel about it. A great place to relax and watch that beautiful Tuscan sunset.
For more information, check out my Volterra page.
San Gimignano views
The famous tourist magnet of San Gimignano is located 44 km north west of Siena and is a great destination for a day trip while you are staying in the area (or combine with a visit to nearby Volterra as well).
San Gimignano is a town of towers - though only 14 of 72 remain these days. It is a fabulous sight when you catch a glimpse of it from a distance on your way there - looks like a mini city atop a cliff.
This is a very popular place, so best to arrive early if you want to get a parking spot anywhere near the main gate! We headed there first thing, got a great park, and managed to check out quite a bit of the town before the large tourist groups descended.
Highlights of our visit included climbing to the top of the tallest tower in town, located in the Palazzo Comunale, for amazing views; and sampling what is claimed to be some of the best gelato in Italy, whilst sitting in Piazza della Cisterna by the 13th century cistern in its centre.
For more information, check out my San Gimignano page.
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