Photo: Alexandre A Kupac via Flickr

Modern tourists aren’t the only ones to marvel at Arcidosso’s splendour. This town has been heralded by famous Italian writers from Giacomo Barzellotti to Cecci Angliolieri for centuries.

Sitting at the feet of Monte Amiata, Arcidosso is humble, but its monuments are striking. Everything in this town appears as if it has been carved out of rock. Nothing appears out of place, from the powerfully imposing castle to the faded pastel-coloured houses and the quaint little Parco del Pero garden. Absolutely everything fits into the mountainside as if it was always there and always meant to be there.

Tourists flock to Arcidosso for this atmosphere and for the honest beauty of its streets. The town was first mentioned in the 9th century when the area was owned by the Abbazia di San Salvatore. Its name is probably derived from the Latin words ‘arx’ and ‘dossum’, which mean ‘fortress to the back of the mountain’.

Much of Arcidosso’s traditions and heritage stem from this original fortress. It has dictated the shape of the houses and buildings in the town for centuries, the colours of the walls and the style of the terracotta roofs. It also faithfully protected the locals until it was stormed by Sienese captain Guidoriccio Fogliano in 1331. Today it’s the historic heart of Arcidosso and open to visitors all year round.

But Arcidosso’s charm isn’t confined within the fortress and its walls. When you leave Arcidosso you step into the Parco Fauntisco del Monte Amiata, a nature park that protects and nurtures the incredible beauty of Monte Amiata’s flora and fauna. The town is also close to the slopes of Amiata Mountain, a skier’s paradise in winter and a hiker/biker’s paradise throughout the rest of the year.

Sights and museums

Chiesa di San Niccolò

The Chiesa di San Niccolò was built in the mid-12th century, but like most Maremman churches was completely rebuilt again and again.

Chiesa di San Leonardo 

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First mentioned in 1188, this church might have been heavily renovated over the years, but it’s still quite spectacular.

Chiesa di Sant’Andrea 

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Also built in 1188, it was eventually became the seat of the Confraternita della Misericordia – a refuge for the sick and wayfarers.

Santa Maria ad Lamula

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In local legend, a farmer finds his beloved mule genuflecting in front of this church. The locals renamed the church Lamula, which is dialect for donkey.

 

Fonte dei Poggiolo 

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This neo-Gothic fountain is like an ornate cathedral. Hand-wrought by Follonica’s foundries in 1883, it is simply stunning.

Rocca Aldobrandesca 

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Covered in moss, this fortress is a little worse for wear, but remains Arcidosso’s cultural heart for all intents and purposes.

Faunistico Museum 

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This is the starting point for anyone who wants to visit Monte Amiata’s Parco Faunistico – the territory’s premier nature park.

D. Lazzaretti Museum

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You’ll be hard pressed to find anything like this funny little museum. It’s a study centre dedicated to David Lazzretti, also known as the ‘profeta dell’Amiata’.

Events

La Castagna in Festa

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October 

La Castagna in Festa is a much loved festival not only in Arcidosso but in all of Monte Amiata. The event centres around the chestnut, which has almost achieved a god-like status in the area.

 

Photos left to right: Alexandre A Kupac, Carlo Ascani, Razvan Orendovici and nemo kanenas via Flickr. 

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