A left fork in the Via Cassia towards Siena leads to Montalcino, where everybody talks about wine, even in one of the most important monuments, the Rocca, whose threatening profile stands out against the hills between the valleys of the Arbia and the Orcia rivers.
The fortress, a massive pentagonal castle encircled by walls with towers at the corners, opens inside on a vast courtyard utilized in summer for theatrical and cultural events. From the donjon, which houses a wine cellar, visitors accede to the sentinel’s round on the walls, offering a splendid panorama over the land of Brunello.
On the main square stands the Palazzo dei Priori, while a few steps away rises the former Monastery of Sant’Agostino, site of Civic and Diocesan Museum, which contains figurative works and statuary of the Sienese school in addition to a painted cross coming from the nearby Romanesque Abbey of Sant’Antimo.
Situated in a valley dotted with cypress and olive trees, about ten kilometres south of the administrative centre, the Abbey of Sant’Antimo was erected in the 12th Century, and immediately became an active centre of Benedictine religious life. Solitary and secluded, the church is preceded by a pale facade with sculptured architrave and is flanked by the squat bell tower, against which a cypress tree delicately leans.
The interior has three naves with ambulatory and women’s gallery, on whose walls the light, filtering from onyx windows, creates gilded reflections that confer on the ensemble a unique fascination.