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The Val d'Orcia or Valdorcia of Tuscany, Italy

The valley of the river Orcia is an area of southern Tuscany famous for its sweeping landscapes and charming towns and villages. The Valley of the River Orcia extends from the hills south of Sienna to Monte Amiata, a volcanic peak that dominates the southern Tuscan landscape. The rolling hills of the Valdorcia are characteristically cultivated with grain so that in season they are green to the horizon. In spring, these same hills are often red with poppies. The ridges of the gently rolling hills are often lined with cypresses or alternating cypresses and umbrella pines, a striking visual feature often seen in the backgrounds of Renaissance paintings by artists born in or near the Val d'Orcia.

Geologically, many parts of the Val d'Orcia are "badlands", exposed areas of rain-eroded clay known as the crete senesi. Decades of painstaking labour have resulted in much of these badlands being recovered and turned to agriculture. Nevertheless, the crete senesi remain a feature of the geomorphology and provide endless opportunity for photography enthusiasts.

The Val d'Orcia is dotted with castles dating from the period of expansion by the Siennese, and by picturesque villages and wine towns such as Montalcino. The renaissance town "in miniature", Pienza, is one of the jewels of the Valdorcia and a centre of production of pecorino, ewe's milk cheese.

More about wide sky country of the Val d'Orcia.

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