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VAL D'ORCIA: A MAP OF THE UNESCO HERITAGE SITE

About 40 minutes south of Siena and a bit over an hour from the Tuscan coast, Val d'Orcia lies to the east of the Maremma and to the west of Montepulciano and Umbria. The UNESCO world heritage site is made up by the territories of Montalcino, San Quirico d'Orcia  (with historic spa town Bagno Vignoni ) , Pienza, Castiglione d'Orcia and Radicofani. The Orcia river crosses two more municipalities (Castel del Piano and my hometown Cinigiano ), where it divides the province of Siena from the province of Grosseto (Tuscany's two southernmost areas) before flowing into the Ombrone river.    View VAL D'ORCIA MAP in a larger map
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Montalcino Jazz & Wine 2019

Edition 22 of Montalcino Jazz & Wine will bring seven jazz concerts to Brunello town. The first two are held in the courtyard of Castello Banfi (small space, make sure to book in advance, details below), while t he concerts from July 10 to 14, 2019 will happen in Montalcino's fortress, the long-standing, spacious festival venue und the Tuscan stars.  Montalcino Jazz & Wine 2019 The incredible Dee Dee Bridgewater, a frequent guest at Umbria Jazz, will be in Montalcino this year with her new program dedicated to Josephine Baker. Another big name is Grammy award nominated Canadian saxophonist Ben Wendel (who played at the Incontri festival in Val d'Orcia a few years ago) together with Mexican drummer, singer and composer Israel Varela.  Montalcino Jazz & Wine - July  As every year, the excellent Italian jazz scene is present on several nights with Rosario Giuliano, the Flavio Boltro trio, the Roberto Gatto quartet and Dario Deidda together with Ame

Brunello wine fairs 2019

Wine buyers and expert tasters usually travel to Montalcino in winter to taste the latest releases during Benvenuto Brunello . However, recently two new events have started to bring Brunello lovers to town in early summer.  Tutto in un Sorso / Wine without Borders  reunites some of the most interesting producers of the natural wine world in Montalcino. Small, mostly family-run wineries from Italy and France will lead tastings of their natural wines at the Sant'Agostino church in Montalcino. For wine lovers with an ample budget, the Long Live Brunello wine fair (tickets from 500 Euro) will be of interest. For the first time, 35 Brunello wineries reunite to open some of their oldest bottles (starting with the 1968 vintage). It's going to be hard to find another event that will allow you to taste so many riservas in one place. The fair will end with a charity auction at the Bertarelli concert hall in Cinigiano.  Long Live Brunello : June 21 - 23, 2019. Tickets from 500

MONTALCINO JAZZ & WINE 2018

Montalcino Jazz & Wine, July 12 to 22, 2018 All concerts start at 9.45pm in Montalcino's fortress, apart from the pre-concert on Ju ly 12 which will take place in the courtyard of Castello Banfi.  Banfi's courtyard can get jammed, but there is always space at the fortress even if you arrive late. However, if you want a table close to the stage, be sure to make a reservation via Montalcino's tourist office.  Phone : +39 0577 849331;  email:  info@prolocomontalcino.com  

Natural wine in Montalcino: June 3 and 4, 2018

A wine fair in Montalcino that isn't just about Brunello? Now, that's a first! Tutto in un Sorso promises an exciting weekend and fresh wind for the lovely but rather autocentric  Tuscan town. Organized by Francesca Padovani and Marco Arturi from Montalcino's  Fonterenza winery , the first edition of Tutto in un Sorriso will showcase 47 organic and biodynamic wineries from every corner of Europe.  Wine lovers will recognize Foradori, Occhipinti and a few other shooting stars of the natural wine world. But with this fair, the real treat lies in discovering little-known European grape varieties and inspiring wines from small family-run vineyards. Labours of love which can't be easily found anywhere else in Italy!    Tutto in un Sorso Cloister of Sant'Agostino, Montalcino: June 3 and 4, 2018 Tastings from 11 am to 7 pm.  Entrance 15€ 

The Temple of San Biagio - back to former splendour

The temple of San Biagio seen from the Pienza - Montepulciano road Tuscany has countless churches in incredible locations. But some stick out and leave a mark, even if you're the 'seen one church, seen them all' type of person. Montepulciano's temple of San Biagio is one of them. It's hard not to drive off the road when noticing it for the first time while approaching Montepulciano on the road from Pienza. Over the years, I've observed many a hazardous manoeuvre by tourists trying to get a pic of San Biagio taking a sunset bath during golden hour (and am guilty of some of them myself). Whether you pull over on the road from Pienza or look down onto the church from Montepulciano's town walls, San Biagio looks incredible from every angle and in front of every backdrop. No doubt, Tuscans know how to choose a scenic location but its thanks to the genius of Renaissance architect Antonio da San Gallo the elder that the church stands out like no other wh

WINTER WINERY VISIT

Brunello di Montalcino is not an everyday wine, and especially Brunello Riservas - produced only in outstanding vintages - are wines for big occasions, birthdays, anniversaries and, of course, the holidays.  But when visiting Montalcino and the Val d'Orcia during Christmas season, many wine lovers struggle to find a vineyard open for tastings. Understandably, after a year of hard work, most Brunello producers celebrate at home to finally enjoy their wine with their families.   Palazzone vineyard near Montalcino: open for tastings during the holidays Il Palazzone's holiday winery visits are an exception to the rule and the themed tastings are just the thing you need if you're still contemplating ideal wine pairings for Christmas lunch or New Year's Eve.  Sensory Tasting – Family Friendly  Deciphering the aromas in a wineglass is fun! Come and explore the world of aromas and scents. Includes: private winery tour, guided tasting of 4 wines & a leaflet. 

SUNSET TASTINGS IN BRUNELLO TOWN

Sunset at the Palazzone winery Tasting Brunello can be a daunting task, at least during the two hottest months of the year. When temperatures start to reach suffocating highs in July and August, only hard-core professionals will look forward to starting the day with a wine that often has an alcohol content of 14 % (let alone the even mightier Brunello Riserva). Most travelers would just ask for one more iced coffee, thank you, if it wasn't for, yes, Montalcino.  At Il Palazzone  - one of my  top ten wineries  to visit in Montalcino - Esther from Vino Vistas created a cool alternative to sticky Tuscan summer mornings spent spitting too warm wine: sunset tastings (I still can't believe that nobody has thought about it before!) . Swirl your wine at sundown and enjoy not just the gorgeous view but also a bit of a breeze. Montalcino isn't just known for Brunello, but also for its windy evenings, and you'll come to love them after a sizzling hot August day.