Southern Tuscany – 6 nights
Renaissance hilltop towns and classic winesBack to Routes
Piazza del Campo, Siena
Valley below Pienza
The reward for climbing up to the hilltop towns!
Looking towards Montalcino
Abbazia di Sant' Antimo
A typical walk in Tuscany
The baths at Bagno Vignoni
We loved everything about our trip. We wanted to see and experience everything. We also took every suggested detour and explored every suggested landmark, which made our walks sometimes even longer and more challenging for us, but then again, we just didn't want to miss a thing.
Theresa and Anival Morales, CA, USA - October 2023
The info packet was hugely appreciated! We were curious as to why you needed so much info from us up front but then we were very impressed that you went the extra mile and gave us bus and train timetables, suggested taxi services and even restaurant recommendations for the days on either side of our On Foot itinerary. Quite frankly, it made us feel as if you cared :)
Elizabeth Kelly, Ossining, USA - October 2023
This is our second On Foot holiday after Naxos and Amorgos. We deliberately planned it with stops in different towns and this made it feel like a real holiday. We really loved all the hill towns and the food was wonderful.
Anne Ladd, Derbyshire, UK - September 2023
Very much enjoyed our holiday - having been on several previous hikes (Priorat, Andalucia, Cornwall, etc), Tuscany presented an entirely different dynamic - far less dramatic - rustica distilled.
Michael Murphy, Florida, USA - September 2023
As ever - excellent, very patient in getting the right hotels and routes booked. The office always responds quickly to any requests and follows up - the person may change but everyone seems able to pick up where previous conversations have got to. Fi very patiently helped me load the phone app - despite my terrible IT skills.
Jane Parker, Leyland, UK - June 2023
Before leaving, my husband and I had trepidations about following the walking directions - we tend to get lost! We are happy to report that after we became acclimatised to understanding the written directions we found them to be spot on and we were able to enjoy the walks each day without worrying too much that we were off the track.
We really appreciated having the knowledge that Danielle was available if we ran into any issues along the way, grateful that we did not need to contact him, but it gave us a peace of mind. It is hard to decide what we liked best, we loved the walking routes, and scenery along the way. Our accommodations were what we expected based on your descriptions of each. It was really nice to know that our luggage would meet us at the end of the day!
Andrea Martin, Lititz, USA - May 2023
The organisation of On Foot was perfect. Our bags always turned up in our hotel rooms. All our rooms had incredible views and were a very good standard. The detailed route instructions were great.
Judy Barnes, Chelmsford, UK - May 2023
Loved the walking (of course!)--beautiful route and we felt that we got a good sense of Tuscany's landscape. We really enjoyed the little walled villages we encountered along the way, and the bigger ones we stayed in.
Ingrid Nygaard, Salk Lake City, USA - May 2023
This was a wonderful holiday. The walk each day had its own particular character. Varied countryside, splendid views, spring flowers and fascinating destinations.
Colin Reid, Woodbridge, UK - April 2023
We loved our holiday. The beautiful Tuscan scenery was the highlight and we loved staying in different places every night. The walking instructions were really excellent.
Kirsty Peacock, Sevenoaks, UK - April 2023
We loved our holiday. The landscape was stunning. A revelation. It was so quiet - not a main road to be seen. The hilltop towns were also glorious. Our favourites were Montalcino and Monticchiello.
Your instructions were fantastic. Your choice of hotels perfect. The luggage transfers went smoothly, ad I really liked knowing Daniele was there in case of emergency or need.
Natalia Jimenez, London, UK - April 2023
The beauty of the hiking of Tuscany was never ending. We loved all the villages but really fell in love with Pienza.
In Pienza we ate at a very good restaurant called Sperone Nudo. We had the most fantastic pistachio tiramisu we've ever had in our lives!!!
Cathleen Zoss, Fort Collins, USA - April 2023
The scenery was jaw-droppingly beautiful. The contrast between the ancient hill-top villages and the miles of open farmland/vineyards/olive groves was incredible. Really liked Montalcino as a town to have an extra day in, but every place was beautiful.
Janice Wallace, Chiddingstone, UK - October 2022
Marty and I both love long distance walking and hiking, traveling, especially to Europe, and getting immersed in smaller towns and villages, particularly with a long and interesting history. Southern Tuscany provided this in spades, and really could not have been improved upon.
Todd Black, Seattle, USA - September 2022
We love these hiking trips!! My husband and I have done them on our own and with friends before. They are my happy place! And it's truly a great way to see a country. On Foot picks beautiful hotels, great routes, and charming towns! And the service has been great.
Anita Margot Moss, Miami Beach, USA - September 2022
It was my first experience of a self-guided walk alone, and a week back I am still on a high. The wonderful weather certainly helped.
The advice, if I was lost to go back to where I knew I was in the right place, was good. Luckily it only happened once!!
Jo Sanderson, Richmond, UK - May 2022
The walking was excellent and accommodation amazing. We didn't take to the grumpy bus driver! Also could Montalcino be not quite so high please?
You can't improve on perfection. It must be the best holiday we have had with On Foot. Thank you.
Bob and Barbara Stone, Farnham, UK - May 2022
I have been on eight other walking holidays over the past five years, and this one certainly ranks among the best. I particularly appreciated the variety of styles in the choice of accommodations. The mechanics of the trip all went like clockwork.
The Blue Booklet notes were particularly useful, interesting and added to my understanding of what I was seeing, even though I had done a good deal of homework beforehand.
Mark Heinicke, Denver, USA - April 2022
Very thorough pre-trip information, responsive to my inquiries, terrific local contact (Daniele), very good accommodations.
The route directions were exceptionally detailed yet easy to follow.
Richard Lyon, Boseman, USA - October 2021
Yet another perfect On Foot holiday! Stunning scenery which made for superb walking on quiet and mostly easy tracks. I had thought the walks would be a bit short but because the villages were beautiful it was good to have some time to explore on arriving.
Also, would be a great place to experience in different seasons so may need to go again! Loved it all!
Kathy Sethi, Edinburgh, UK - October 2021
At a glance
6 nights (5 days walking) - miss Siena and start in Buonconvento, so having the pick of the hilltop towns. See 'Prices' tab for what's included.
Suggested route pairing: Umbria, Ligurian Hills, Amalfi Coast, Lake Maggiore, Slovenia
How much walking?
Full days: 11-19 km per day, 3½-6 hrs walking
Using shortening options: 9-14km per day, 3-4 hrs (using lifts)
Southern Tuscany - Renaissance hilltop towns and classic wines
The Tuscan landscape at its most evocative – rolling hills protected by dramatic hilltop villages, whose very stones reek of medieval power struggles and intrigue. And to assist in the consideration of these issues, two fine red wines, the rich Brunello di Montalcino and the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, with their vineyards at the heart of our walk. This version starts in rural Buonconvento, through Montalcino, the Abbey of Sant’ Antimo, Bagno Vignoni and its ancient thermal baths, Pienza and a final walk up from the church of San Biagio to the cathedral at Montepulciano.
Do be aware that unlike many of our other routes, in Tuscany shortening or missing days using taxis is generally not possible – there is a scarcity of taxi drivers, and those that are available tend to charge highly for their services, even for very short journeys.
Walked by On Foot staff: Simon, Debbie, Harriet and Patrick
Consider pairing this route with Umbria (2½ hrs by taxi and train), Ligurian Hills (7 hrs by taxi and train), Amalfi Coast (6-7 hrs by taxi, train and ferry), Lake Maggiore (7 hrs by taxi, train and ferry, recommended overnight stop in Milan), Slovenia (6½ hrs by train, recommended overnight stop in Venice or Florence) – for more details click here.
REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews submitted to the Association of Independent Tour Operators visit Aito.com.
TRAVEL ADVICE: To find the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for UK citizens travelling to Italy, click here. Citizens of other nations will also find it useful, but should always check their appropriate local agency.
- The rolling hills of Southern Tuscany
- Brunello di Montalcino
- Pienza, the classic Renaissance hilltop town
- Montepulciano, San Biagio and the cathedral
This route features the following characteristics and interests: Villages and farms, Art, History, Wine
Things you should know
- This route is less about the walking than about the historical, picture-perfect hilltop towns that you stay in. Stride out along the tracks through the iconic Tuscan landscape.
Wine tasting at one of the Enotecas in Montalcino or Montepulciano (we offer some suggestions - your hosts can also advise).
Eating and Drinking
Tuscany can be very sophisticated and it is sometimes difficult to find an authentic regional dish, though Leonardo at Pieve a Salti thinks differently – “all our food is grown on our farm if at all possible – we have the largest organic farm in the region. My favourite dishes here are Penne con ragù di Cinta (pork ragout) or Pici with ragù all’aglione (tomato and garlic ragout), Zuppa di farro (spelt soup), Cinghiale in umido (wild boar), Rasato al Brunello (veal with Brunello Wine) – all of which are Tuscan specialities. And of course you must have some wine – Brunello di Montalcino – the vineyards are just down the road!”
How much Walking?
Using shortening options: 9-14km per day, 3-4 hrs (using lifts)
Getting up to the hilltop towns at the end of each day always makes it seem harder! Walking mainly on tracks. Shortening or missing days using taxis is generally not possible. Highest point on route: 600m.
Medium: Average cumulative uphill stretches (CUSs) 508m (170m-760m) per day.
Easy-medium: CUSs 349m (170m – 510m) using shortening options.
Acrophobia/vertigo warnings: None.
GPX file available for handheld GPS or smartphone App for complete route.
Important note: Times given for each day are walking times for an “average” walker and exclude stops. “CUSs” stands for “Cumulative Uphill Stretches” and measures the aggregated ascents in each day, expressed in metres of climb. See “Walk Grading” for more information.
When to go?
The best months to walk: April, May, June, mid September onwards, October
Other possible months: July, August, November
The variety of tracks in the beautiful Tuscan landscape give good walking at any time during our suggested season, but particularly in late spring with its wide open views. Early September can be dry but later and into October much greener after the post-summer rains and the approach of autumn colours.
Temperature and rainfall chart for Southern Tuscany
Day 1 - Arrive in Buonconvento
Arrive in Buonconvento by train (and be met by the hotel driver). Then relax and enjoy your first night looking over the Tuscan countryside.
Day 2 - Buonconvento to Montalcino
A gentle amble on the wide ridge road until you strike south across the cornfields along old tracks up and down the Tuscan countryside, with splendid views on the way to your first real climb – 300m or so up to the citadel of Montalcino. (Medium-hard: 5 hrs walking (allow 6¾ hrs), 15½ km (10 miles), CUSs 760m)
Day 3 - Montalcino to Sant’ Antimo
The easy day. Almost entirely downhill, through the vineyards around Montalcino onto the plateau land above the Villa a Tolli before you light upon the lovely Cistercian Abbey of Sant’ Antimo in its valley setting, and maybe lunch before the bus home (not Sunday – when you could retrace your steps or organise an (expensive) taxi). (Easy: 3½ hrs walking (allow 4¾ hrs), 11 km (7 miles), CUSs 170m)
Day 4 - Montalcino to Bagno Vignoni
Drop down from Montalcino to the fertile farmland below, and further to the sleepy meadows of the Asso valley and its occasionally exciting river fording. Finally, a walk in along the Orcia valley to your next accommodation near the ancient baths at Vignoni. (Upgrade to a spa hotel adjacent to the baths, and perhaps stay an extra night to enjoy the spa all day – admission included in the upgrade price!) (Medium-hard: 6 hrs walking (allow 8 hrs), 19 km (12 miles), CUSs 520m)
Day 5 - Bagno Vignoni to Pienza
Start off up the hill to the delightful hamlet of Vignone, with its great view of Rocca d’Orcia on the other side of the Orcia valley, and then down to San Quirico, an unassuming yet attractive town with a fine medieval core – time for a coffee (or lunch if you start late!). Then a ramble across typical Tuscan rolling fields to the best hilltop town of them all, and a world heritage site – Pienza. (Medium: 4¼ hrs walking (allow 5¾ hrs), 14 km (9 miles), CUSs 610m).
Day 6 - Pienza to Montepulciano
For your last day, a walk across the pretty countryside east of Pienza to little Monticchiello, and perhaps a coffee stop. Afterwards, navigate through woodlands and up onto the ridge again for a great approach to Montepulciano via the extravagant temple of San Biagio, before climbing the infamous Montepulciano ramp to the cathedral square and your triumphant finale. (Medium: 4½ hrs walking (allow 6 hrs), 14 km (9 miles), CUSs 480m)
Depart for home (or choose to stay further nights)
ARRIVING BY TRAIN
Nearest railway station:
Start: Siena (unless starting in either Buonconvento or Montalcino, in which case Buonconvento)
Finish: Chiusi-Chianciano Terme
Sample journey by rail:
Via Rome: Rome to Florence, Florence to Siena ~3½ hrs
Chiusi-Chianciano Terme to Rome: ~2 hrs direct
We suggest thetrainline.com for times, ticket booking and other information.
ARRIVING BY CAR
Not ideal (unless your first night is in Montalcino), but best is to drive to Montalcino and park in a public car park there (supplement). Taxi to your first night and back at the end.
ARRIVING BY AIR
The best ‘local’ airports are Pisa and Florence. Intercontinental flights use Rome. Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily.
Land by: 17:30 (Pisa or Florence) for public transport connections to Siena (15:30 if starting at Buonconvento or Montalcino)
Return flight earliest: 13:30 (Florence), 15:00 (Pisa). Earlier flights possible missing breakfast, alternatively overnight in Florence/Pisa.
Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner (see below) before finalising any booking with us. Do not book your flights until we have confirmed that we have provisionally reserved accommodation for you.
For up-to-date schedules and flights from all airports check Skyscanner.
See “Getting to the start of your walk” below for transfer information.
Getting to the start of the walk
The first hotel is in Siena, Buonconvento or Montalcino, and the last in Montepulciano. Transfer times and methods are suggested from Pisa airport below.
Outward: Two buses or train + bus, change in Florence. Allow ~3½ hrs from touchdown in Pisa to arrival in Siena.
Return: Bus to Chiusi-Chianciano Terme, then train from there via change in Florence to Pisa Centrale, change on to shuttle train to Pisa airport. Allow ~4hrs.
Outward: Shuttle bus to centre, then bus to Siena ~2hrs
Return: Bus to Chiusi-Chianciano Terme, then train to Florence and shuttle bus to airport ~3hrs
Full transfer advice, including timetables, is provided in your Walkers’ Pack. Contact us if you would like additional pre-booking information.
Where You'll Stay
This route offers a range of hotels. Our standard options include a little B&B in central Siena (sadly often full), a countryside restaurant with great views and excellent rooms, two typical authentic Italian ones, a little one at the edge of Pienza old town with fantastic views, and a quirky one in Montepulciano with rooftop terrace (in season). Upgrades can include smart international (Montalcino), a former monastery (Pienza) and ultra-smart boutique (Montepulciano). Take your pick! You might also like to consider Montalcino’s Dei Capitani (one of our alternative hotels) and its pool if booking for late June, July or early September.
Buonconvento – Pieve a Salti (dinner, B&B)
Restaurant with rooms (and pool) in a lovely position.Website
Montalcino – Vecchia Oliviera (B&B)
Tastefully decorated, cool and airy, just outside old town, with pool.Website
Bagno Vignoni – Hotel le Terme (dinner, B&B)
Recently refurbished hotel overlooking the original thermal pool, with own pool/spa.Website
Pienza – Piccolo Hotel la Valle (B&B)
Gloriously positioned and comfortable hotel just outside the old town.Website
Pienza – Il Chiostro (B&B)
Former Franciscan convent near the Cathedral, converted into slightly faded hotel with panoramic terrace. Choose a room with view over the Valle d'Orcia.Website
Total 6 nights in double/twin room, all breakfasts, 1 evening meal, 1 picnic, luggage transfers between all hotels on walking route; full Walkers Pack with route directions, maps, transfer and background information; local telephone support. Locally levied tourist taxes are not included.
All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated, and are based on a standard booking in May. Prices may vary seasonally and a fixed price will be given to you before you commit.
Single Room Supplement (SRS): from £260
Lone Traveller Additional Supplement (LTAS): from £200
Large Party Saving (LPS): Groups of more than 2 people (on an identical itinerary, on the same booking and booked at the same time) – discount of at least £25 per person
Maximum party size: 10
Additional nights or upgrade hotels: Contact On Foot Holidays for prices (vary with season)
Sending Walkers Packs to addresses outside the UK: £20-£60 (per pack, location dependent)
Our local team
Daniele Cavazzoni (Southern Tuscany)
Daniele's early passion for nature led him to explore all the Italian regions on foot. He started working as a nature guide for an international tour operator, working around the Indian Ocean and in the African savannah.