Castelmuzio (Siena) - Val D'Orcia - Tuscany

Castelmuzio: A Perfect Location

Castelmuzio is off the beaten path, and yet close to everything! Italy’s major highway (A1) that runs from Rome to Florence is only 18 km away! Train stations are easily reached in Chiusi and Arezzo. Airports in Rome, Florence and Pisa are within 2-3 hours by car. Siena is a short 40-minute drive north.

It is located close to the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Val d'Orcia Artistic, Natural and Cultural Park. These coveted designations are protecting this area’s cultural and artistic heritage and its miracle of nature called the "crete senesi", a countryside characterized by undulating ploughed hills and densely forested woods.

Castelmuzio is set in the same luscious landscape used so often for movie sets, photo calendars, book covers and postcards. The terrain is rich with gray-green olive groves, geometrical vineyards, and breathless punctuations of tall slender dark green cypress trees. Its beauty is savored best by meandering the secondary (white) roads that wend their way through the hills, stone farmhouses, and poppy fields.

This tiny medieval village is centered in the land of prized D.O.P. olive oil, Brunello and Vino Nobile wine, white truffles, pecorino cheese, and wild boar.

Castelmuzio is a mesmerizing medieval hamlet and precious treasure of the real Tuscany. It can provide you with opportunities for unforgettable day excursions and, in the evening, relaxation and immersion in the local culture.

Castelmuzio's Beginnings

Castelmuzio, an ancient village dating back to the time of the Etruscans, is built on a volcanic limestone hilltop overlooking an amazing landscape . Over the years it has been called by several names, "Castel Mozzo" and later "Castello". The local people still refer to it simply as "Castello". You can see the old city walls and ramparts, including the embrasures through which cannons were fired. The village came into its own in the 13th century, when many of the buildings you see today were built.

The tower, a prominent part of the fortified castle, stood watch over the countryside to protect the citizens from local enemies and barbarians from far away. Later, in the 16th century, it became the village’s civic building and housed the town council meetings and provided residence for the town prior. The tower is part of the Palazzo Fratini, which was once the medieval Spedale di San Giovanni Battista (hospital of St. John the Baptist).

The village has been wonderfully preserved–you can touch the medieval walls, see the watch tower, and enter the village through the ancient arched stone gate. The village includes three churches. The most famous is the Pieve di Santo Stefano in Cennano, just outside the village. This small parish church has a documented history since 715 A.D. Its location was originally an Etruscan place of worship, and much later the church was built over an early Roman temple. The part you see today was built in 1285 A.D. In recent years a cemetery and Roman bath have been discovered very close to the church!

During the 15th century the Confraternità della Santissima Trinità opened a hostel for pilgrims. These pilgrims came from France and other parts of Europe, usually on foot, to see the pope in Rome, and followed a route called the Via Francigena. Do visit the Sacred Art Museum which is housed inside; it is worth making the arrangements to visit!

Castelmuzio Today

Today Castelmuzio is a medieval Tuscan gem, with 200 residents and everything you could want to make this little hamlet "your home away from home"! Although you will find very little English spoken in Castelmuzio, you WILL find enormous Italian charm, very little tourism, a great deal of kindness, and some gentle curiosity from the local people.

A friendly coffee bar and restaurant with a traditional menu and tasty pizza is right in the middle of the village inside the 15th century tower. The restaurant’s open-air seating puts you right in the middle of village activity. In this warm and friendly place you can pretend you are living in a Tuscan village centuries ago. In the late afternoon the local residents will gather here after promenading along the main avenue of the village. Join them and practice your italiano! They will appreciate any effort you make to speak with them.

Fresh vegetables, delicious pecorino cheese, meats, and wine can be purchased just a few steps away at the Coop grocery store.

Living in Castelmuzio is so easy!

Castelmuzio's Village Life

Castelmuzio has a rich local life, full of family and communal support. Sleep with your windows open without a worry! Let your children explore the village! You are safe in this child-friendly village.

Quickly you will see that the people are kind, warm, curious, and eager to know you. They always greet you when they meet you in the village with a cheery "Buongiorno" or "Buonasera". Grocery shopping is not a task, but rather a community experience. While you wait your turn to be served, watch and listen! People are never in a rush—they talk about their families and about what is going on with their neighbors, and… and… and. Be patient and feel the natural rhythms of life of these beautiful people. It is truly an ancient rhythm you are feeling.

The bar in Italy is not the same as a bar in other countries. This is where local life is lived with others! Yes, to be sure, this is where espresso, vino, and grappa are enjoyed. But also, this is the favorite place of everyone who lives here and where together they watch TV, play cards, and argue with passion about soccer, politics, and their favorite foods and how they must be prepared.

The community in Castelmuzio is very close. Weddings and funerals are shared with the whole village; when someone has a problem all the inhabitants are willing to help; and old people are listened to and taken care of. Everyone here knows that the old people embody the village’s memory and roots, and that they lived through a very difficult past—and for these reasons they deserve respect.

Families, children and old people are considered sacred and precious. You will see the families at the local playground at the village entrance in a lovely shady park with swing and slides. If you bring your own children here, they will be a delight to both young and old. Your children will speak a language with these villagers all their own and warm your heart!


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