This small area southwest of Siena encompasses in just a few square kilometres some of the most beautiful cities in Tuscany: Pienza, Monticchiello, San Quirico D'Orcia. Less well known than Chianti, this wonderful valley was declared a World Heritage centre by UNESCO in 2004, and has inspired the most famous Sienese painters from Duccio to Lorenzetti. Among imposing medieval towers, Renaissance masterpieces and some of Tuscany’s real jewels of the Middle Ages such as the Abbey of St. Antimo, Val d'Orcia also offers other attractions to the visitor. For example, Bagno Vignoni, famous for its spas and its health centres, and also Montalcino, where they produce the famous Brunello, one of the most celebrated wines in the world. Montalcino Dominated by an imposing castle, Montalcino has preserved its walls, gates and towers of the XVI century, recalling the days when it was the main ally of the Republic of Siena. Montalcino, however, owes its fame mainly to red wines, particularly the Brunello di Montalcino, famous throughout the world. 9 kms from the village is the magnificent Abbey of Sant’Antimo, one of the main Cistercian abbeys in Italy. San Quirico d'Orcia Located in the heart of the beautiful Val d'Orcia, San Quirico d'Orcia is a fortified city well worth a visit. A must see is the Collegiata dei Santi Quirico e Giulietta featuring the beautiful Gothic-Romanesque portals, the churches of Santa Maria di Vitaleta and Della Misericordia, the Praetorian Palace and the Palazzo Chigi. To complete the tour, the Leonini Gardens are splendid examples of Italian gardens, which were created in 1540 by Diomede Leoni. Pienza Pearl of the Italian Renaissance, from an artistic point of view Pienza is the most important city in the Val D'Orcia. Transformed in 1462 as the summer residence of Pope Enea Silvio Piccolomini (Pius II), Pienza is a perfect example of the realization of philosophic and architectural theories of the Renaissance, aimed at creating the "ideal city". Since 1996 Pienza is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the major monuments, the Cathedral and the 15th century buildings (the beautiful Palazzo Piccolomini, Palazzo Borgia and Palazzo Comunale) overlook the splendid Piazza Pio II. This town is also famous for having hosted the sets of famous movies such as "Romeo and Juliet" and "The English Patient." Do not miss the walk on the walls overlooking the Val D'Orcia, a taste of the famous local cheese, and the "pici", which are traditional home-made pasta. Montepulciano Montepulciano, the most important town of the western Val di Chiana, is old and charming, and is built around the beautiful medieval Piazza Grande. Among the most important buildings are the Palazzo Comunale, the Church of St. Augustine and the Tempio di San Biagio by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder, whose dome was inspired by the Renaissance dome of St. Peter. Montepulciano is also famous for its wines, particularly the "Nobile di Montepulciano, known since the eighth century AD and defined in 1549 as “the perfect wine" by the bottler of Pope Paul III Farnese.