With the smells and colours of the Pigelleto Reserve still imprinted in your mind, head to the north, where you’ll come across one of the Amiata’s most spectacular villages. Santa Fiora, an orange flag village and member of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy club, it’s nestled on the slopes of the ancient volcano, welcoming us from afar with a view of its red roofs clustered together, hiding a maze of medieval streets. The town is ideal for taking a slow, peaceful stroll, beginning in the piazza, the historic center of the village and bordered by medieval walls, with the Clock Tower and Palazzo Sforza, before following via Carolina, with its typical three-doored medieval houses, and via del Fondaccio, with the Parish Church of Santa Flora e Lucilla, home to 15th-century terracottas from the workshop of Andrea Della Robbia. Further on is the village’s terziere, with the ancient Via Lunga and the Church of San Michele Arcangelo, which was once part of an Augustinian monastic complex. Beyond San Michele is a small paradise of tranquillity: the peschiera, a basin of water burrowed between the medieval buildings and the forest that collects waters from the Fiora and which was used by the Aldobrandeschi as a hatchery for trout.
It will be hard to leave Santa Fiora behind, but the Amiata has other villages that await. And so, after tasting Acquacotta (a typical soup made in Santa Fiora with wild radish), continue north until you see the unmistakable silhouette of the tower of the Aldobrandeschi castle in Arcidosso, protecting the town and warning of enemies – of which there many between the 1200s and 1500s – ensuring that anyone with bad intentions would not succeed so easily in their mission.
The town welcomes visitors with its ancient terzieri: the first is where the Castle is located, home also to the Teatro degli Unanimi, the oldest theatre in the Grosseto region, dating to 1741, and the Church of San Niccolò, the oldest church in the town, built in the 12th century and conserving a 16th-century wooden crucifix; the second is the Codaccio terziere, where the home of Lazaretti, founder of the Giurisdavidismo religious movement, and the Church of San Leonardo can be found; and finally, the Sant'Andrea terziere, with Porta Talassese, on which the historic coat of arms of the Republic of Siena can still be seen. The Church of the Madonna Incoronata was built in 1348 as gratitude for the end of the plague.
Arcidosso also boasts the Monte Amiata chestnut IGP, celebrated every October with events, concerts and sagre, a kind of street party with food, as well as guided visits to the surrounding chestnut groves and with rivers of artisanal beers, another speciality of this town. Speaking of specialities, we can’t forget Arcidosso’s soup, a mix of local products, made from stale bread, fresh onions, tomatoes, ricotta, spinach and extra-virgin olive oil, meant to be eaten on toasted bread with scallions.