Unique Things to Do in Tuscany October 7, 2022 By Bellarome Travel Categories: Travel Blog Travel Tips Tuscany Tags: Things to Do in Tuscany, Truffle Hunting and Tasting, Tuscan Hot Springs, Unique Things to Do in Tuscany No comments A visit to Piancastagnaio truly feels as though you are stepping back in time to a forgotten world. This quaint medieval village in the province of Siena in Tuscany derives its name from the rich and imposing chestnut trees which add to the town’s charm.The cultivation of these nuts has been aided by the special soil in the region, and the village is famed for making all kinds of foods to enjoy such as chestnut flour, polenta and Brodolese – a special kind of chestnut soup with added fennel.Surrounded by ancient walls, the historic center winds around the mighty ruins of Rocca Aldobrandesca, named after the family who once ruled the area.These twelfth century fortified walls enclosed the highest part of the current historic center and are now surrounded by the subsequent expansion of the city. The fortress is now open to the public as a museum, and is a must-see if you are passing through the area and are a fan of Italian architecture and art. Things to do for tourists in Piancastagnaio When visiting Piancastagnaio as a tourist, there are many wonderful sights to behold. The fortress, the churches and the historic center are not to be missed if you love historical tours of Italy and adore the classical architecture of the more rural locations.The Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Pietro is located in the town of Piancastagnaio. A certain kind of calmness and peace envelops the sanctuary by reminding Italian tourists as well as the locals that only in God can one find true rest and serenity. It became an important place of worship from 1583, following miraculous events that occurred in connection with an image of the Virgin.According to legend, a young boy entered the church and knelt in front of the painting of the Madonna and Child, painted by Martino di Urbano. He felt that the Virgin Mary asked him to pray for everyone’s sins as Christians. This news spread rapidly among the inhabitants of the country. Awesome architecture and art combine In the 1600s, the church was totally renovated, and the painting of the Madonna was moved to the major altar where the facade stood before. In 1979 the facade was plastered in order to highlight the portal and the rose window of the church.If you are an Italian art tourist, there are some wonderful Francesco Nasini frescoes in the church too.The Rocca Aldobrandesca is a castle in the historic center of Piancastagnaio, on the southern slopes of Monte Amiata. It sits in a dominant position over the valley of the Paglia river, in the province of Siena. Of Lombard origin, the Aldobrandeschis descended from the dukes of Spoleto Ildebrando and Mauringo and were part of the lineage of the kings of Italy.Characteristic of the Aldobrandesche fortresses was the construction of a main building, which would have carried out the function of the main building, and of an adjacent tower used for sightings or, if necessary, defensive actions. Take a historical tour of Piancastagnaio Piancastagnaio, like other areas belonging to the abbey, was obtained by the Aldobrandeschi di Sovana. They were immediately threatened by Siena and Orvieto, and ended up becoming feudal lords of Siena in the second half of the 13th century.When the Aldobrandeschi died out in 1284, Siena and Orvieto again fought over the area. The municipality of Piancastagnaio ended up becoming part of the Republic of Siena in 1440.The municipality was formed during the thirteenth century, as an expression of the community of interests between local artisans, breeders and growers. The tall fir woods required for the masts of ships and for construction had great value.Piancastagnaio remained faithful to Siena until it was overwhelmed by Florence at the surrender of Montalcino in 1559. A few decades later in 1601, the Grand Duke of Tuscany granted Piancastagnaio to the Marquis Giovanni Battista Bourbon del Monte, a former general of the infantry of the Venetian republic.With him and his successors, the Marquisate of Piancastagnaio defined its territorial boundaries which still remain today. The Marquis granted money for the repairs of the church of the Madonna di San Pietro and the convent of San Bartolomeo. One hundred chestnut trees were also planted in the palace’s magnificent gardens which can still be seen today by tourists. Explore the interesting geological aspects of the Piancastagnaio region The Siele mine is located in Diaccialetto in the municipalities of Piancastagnaio and Castell’Azzara and was the largest cinnabar deposit in the Amiata area.There were cinnabar contents up to 38% in mercury and the deposit was mined up to a depth of 200m.It is one of the most famous mercury mines in the area and seems to have been cultivated in the Etruscan age. The Etruscans used cinnabar to paint terracotta and tomb frescoes.The mine was reopened in 1847 together with the nearby Schwarzenberg sulfur mine. When work resumed in the 19th century, it emerged that almost all the richest veins had already been cultivated in ancient times and some mining artefacts were found. Fantastic traditional Italian festivals for tourists to enjoy Definitely not to be missed is the characteristic Palio delle Contrade. Every year on August 18 the four districts of Coro, Voltaia, Borgo and Castello challenge each other to win the banner of victory. The period preceding the Palio is characterized by various events that change every year, organized by the individual Contrade.The Crastaone is another famed festival, taking its name from the roasted chestnuts which grow in the area. You can try all kinds of wines and chestnut based foods on the stalls that are open and stretched along the town centre. As a tourist here you’ll get to experience the real joy and scents that emanate throughout the streets at this special time of year in the Feast of Saints. Classic Tuscany can design you a tour around your tastes and preferences. Get in touch with our Tuscany travel experts to start planning. Visit our tours page to view our predesigned Puglia itineraries.