The Crete Senesi are located south-east of Siena and include the municipal areas of Asciano, Buonconvento, Monteroni d’Arbia, Rapolano Terme, Trequanda and part of that of Montalcino. The name “Crete” derives from the clay that emerges from the ground, characterizing the landscape with its peculiar gray-blue color. It is a clay mixed with rock salt and chalk, the result of the sediments of an ancient sea that covered the entire area three million years ago. The Crete Senesi have a very particular shape with white hills, badlands, cliffs and biancane which has led many to call it a “lunar landscape”. Precisely for these characteristics, since the Middle Ages the area between Buoncovento, Asciano and Montalcino has been called “Accona Desert”.
Perhaps less famous than Chianti or the nearby Val d’Orcia, this area is actually very beautiful and full of things to see and do. Here nature gives us breathtaking panoramas that help create the heavenly image of the Tuscan countryside. Rolling hills, isolated farmhouses and roads that run between rows of cypresses are all typical elements of the Crete Senesi. Along the Via Lauretana, beautiful to do also by motorbike or bicycle, you can meet many panoramic points where you can admire and photograph the landscape. Among the most iconic places scattered in the Crete Senesi we find Podere Baccoleno, a typical isolated farmhouse perched on a hill, and the Site Transitoire created by the artist Jean Paul Philippe near Leonina.
The main hamlets of the Crete are Asciano, where there is an extraordinary museum of art and archeology, Buonconvento, a beautiful red brick village considered among the most beautiful in Italy, Trequanda, San Giovanni d’Asso, Serre di Rapolano and Rapolano Terme which is one of the main spa towns in the province of Siena. To end in beauty, I want to mention the majestic Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore which is located along the road that connects Asciano and Buonconvento. This is one of the most important ecclesiastical complexes in all of Tuscany, a real gem.