After Florence and Siena, Eliza and I took the train to Buonconvento to begin the hiking trip. Buonconvento is in the Val d'Orcia (Orcia Valley--Orcia is one of the rivers) near the southern extreme of Tuscany. [Note to movie lovers: apparently the Italian parts of The English Patient were filmed in different parts of Val d'Orcia]
It's gorgeous. It's been designated an "Artistic, Natural, and Cultural Park" intended to promote the local economy consistent with the traditional way of life and environmental protection. As part of that, they're promoting "the nature train," the use of the train line from Siena as a way for bicyclers and hikers to get around, jump on, jump off and go, get back on somewhere else, etc.
The terrain was remarkably varied over the course of the walk--some volcanic rock in some places, limestone, sandstone, marble quarries, and then apparently very different soils, some suited better to crops and some to wines--I mean, grapes.
(don't you just want to move in?)
I never did figure out any of the crops (besides the hay and the grapes, duh). Like, what's this:
For wine-lovers and foodies, the valley is known for the Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, and I think a bit of Nobile from Montepulciano, as well as olive oil, honey, and cheeses.
And for yarn (or lamb?!) lovers, there were sheep. A few. Actually, I only saw two small flocks. But they wear bells! (which you can't see in this photo because man do they need a shave)